April 02, 2021

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

Open the pod bay doors Hal
On April 6, 1968, director Stanley Kubrick’s visionary science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey was released to movie theaters nationwide in the United States.

The film, developed from the short story “Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke, had its initial premiere in Washington, D.C. on April 2nd, followed by local premieres in New York City and Los Angeles.

On April 6th, with the film’s general release, movie audiences throughout the country first heard several memorable lines that are cited by many books and websites as being among the most famous movie quotes of all time.

The most widely-known (and spoofed) line from 2001 is spoken by astronaut David Bowman (actor Kier Dullea).

He says it to HAL, the sentient HAL 9000 computer on the US space craft Discovery One, which is on a mysterious mission to Jupiter. (The name HAL is short for “the H-euristically programmed AL-gorithmic computer.”)

It comes near the end of the movie, after 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 asks HAL to let him back inside with the famous line: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

This leads to one of most chilling exchanges in movie history:

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) poster by Robert McCallDAVE:  Open the pod bay doors, Hal.
HAL:  I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
DAVE:  What’s the problem?
HAL:  l think you know what the problem is just as well as l do.
DAVE:  What are you talking about, Hal?
HAL:  This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
DAVE:  I don’t know what you're talking about, Hal.
HAL:  l know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that's something I can’t allow to happen.
DAVE:  Where the hell’d you get that idea, Hal?
HAL:  Although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
DAVE:  All right, Hal. I’ll go in through the emergency air lock.
HAL:  Without your space helmet, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.
DAVE:  Hal, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors!
HAL:  Dave...This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Dave uses a desperate maneuver to get back into the spaceship, without the helmet he’d left behind. He then heads determinedly to the room that houses HAL’s “brain,” and begins to shut down the rogue AI computer.

During the shutdown process, HAL senses what’s happening and utters one of the other famous lines from the film:

       “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 minds of the movies’ viewers are blown away by the final scenes.

First comes the psychedelic “star gate” sequence, then a series of scenes showing Dave Bowman aging, dying, and finally being reborn as a shining “space baby.”

Would you like me to tell you what it all means?

I’m sorry, folks, I’m afraid I can’t do that.    

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