90° OVER REALITY
UPDATED SEPT. 2004
By Agostino Ambrosio
Rotation is a basic feature in the universe and a powerful ingredient in "2001: a space odyssey". Stanley Kubrick knew how to take full advantage of it by emphasizing the photographic aspect of countless breathtaking shots throughout the movie.
There is not one single detail in 2001 that doesn't look absolutely convincing. That is with the exception of one puzzling item: the Aries-1B spacecraft.
By repeatedly watching all the shots involving this spherical spacecraft (carrying Dr Floyd from Earth's orbit to the moon base of Clavius) one gets a good idea of the external and internal shape of the vessel.
Everybody remembers the spectacular galley scene in which a hostess carrying food trays walks on a curved velcro tread and slowly finds herself upside-down before entering a sliding door on the left. From the very beginning of this movie segment, we can clearly notice that the crew is located at the "top" or "north pole" of the sphere.
Having this in mind we can go back to the upside down hostess: to really get inside the cockpit she should have made a 90-degree rotation, her back side parallel to the ground, and then she should have gone straight ahead through the "top" sliding door. Instead we see her doing a 180-degree rotation and go in an unusual direction, perpendicular to the expected destination.
For a better understanding see drawings at the page bottom.
This impossible situation is also present in the scene involving the moon landing of the Aries-1B. In one of the most spectacular shots from the cockpit, we can see the moon terrain and the landing site as if seated in a very special place near the "equator" of the ship, ignoring the fact that the pilots were located, as said previously, at the "north pole" of the sphere. In reality pilots had no direct visual contact with the ground because their line of sight was oriented in the opposite direction.
From the cockpit window the only features that should have been visible, at landing, were the sky and stars. From a logical point of view the inside of the lunar spacecraft is a surrealistic place more like an Escher maze (see lithograph below) than an existing coherent space.
Unless something was misunderstood in this analysis, I personally believe that Stanley Kubrick intentionally distorted the inside appearance of the ship to maximise the visual impact of the whole Aries sequence, both for the stewardess take and the landing take. Please don't hesitate to send your feedback.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
RELATIVITY by M.C. Escher
NEW: POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS FROM OBSERVERS
(Thank you for all your feedbacks)
Coming soon: ABOUT DISCOVERY ONE
Original drawings by Agostino Ambrosio ć 2001-02-14
Etching by M.C.Escher
WEB DESIGN by NORVEGA