April 06, 2014

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

On today’s date in 1968, director Stanley Kubrick’s trippy science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey was released to movie theaters nationwide in the United States.

The film, based on a novel and an earlier short story by Arthur C. Clarke, had its initial premiere in Washington, D.C. on April 2nd, followed by local premieres in New York and Los Angeles.

On April 6, 1968, with the film’s general release, movie audiences throughout the country first heard several memorable lines in the film that that are now commonly cited as famous movie quotes.

One is spoken by astronaut David Bowman (actor Kier Dullea), to HAL, the treacherous, sentient HAL 9000 space ship computer. (HAL is short for “the H-euristically programmed AL-gorithmic computer.”)

Toward the end of the movie, as HAL begins killing off the ship’s crew, Bowman takes a small space pod outside to retrieve the body of fellow astronaut Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood).

As Bowman returns to the ship, he utters the oft-quoted and oft-spoofed line:

       “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

HAL responds chillingly:

       “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Bowman manages to get back into the ship and heads to the room that houses HAL’s “brain,” determined to shut it down.

During the shutdown process, HAL senses what’s happening and says the famous lines:

       “Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it.”

As HAL’s mind goes, he begins singing the old song “Daisy Bell,” which he was taught by his programmers:

       “Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer do.
        I’m half crazy, all for the love of you.”

After HAL’s mind is fully gone, the audiences’ minds get blown by the final sequences of the movie, which show Bowman aging, dying, and then being reborn as a shining “space baby.”

What does it all mean?

I’m sorry, folks, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that…

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