Shot-by-Shot Analysis
Table of Contents


For the real film buff, I've gone through and listed shots, images from each, and length of time of shots. Because I raised myself on the old Evergreen Black Cat cinema books which took pains to do the same and loved studying them. And because that is the only way to really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally and in their relationships as an oeuvre.

Kubrick's films elicit a lot of whys and wherefores, "What does this mean?", because he included so many seeming puzzles inviting review, mysteries that demanded second and third notice, editing quirks and both subtle and obvious shifts in staging. My analyses haven't much to do with the psychology, but look at Kubrick's choices of stories, music, places he filmed, staging, the differences between the literature and the script that made it onto celluloid and how he chose to edit it all together, carrying themes from film to film, and based on these elements I dip into a variety of possible influences.

Table of Contents for this Analysis
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Supplemental posts
Notes on the Analyses (Disclaimer)

TOC and Supplemental Posts | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Films Home

An In-depth Shot-by-shot Analysis of Stanley Kubrick's Film 2001: A Space Odyssey - Table of Contents

Headings/subheadings and some subjects covered:

The Beginning of the Odyssey, Shots 1 thru 105 (about 19:48)

The Eternal Return, Shots 1 through 2
Commentary included with the screengrabs. Gyorgy Ligeti's "Atmospheres". Richard Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra" inspired by Nietzche's. The sunrise section. Nietzche's conception of the eternal return. Kubrick's repetitions.
The Dawn of Man, Shots 3 through 105
Commentary included with the screengrabs. Among those things examined: The use of still photography. The hominids presented in Museum of Natural History diorama-like settings which show often a kind of vignette of brush-like vignette effects. The effect of this. The inability to largely identify the opposing bands from one another (refer to opening of Fear and Desire and the use of doubling). The repetitious use of a sunrise image, also for a seeming sunset.
The Monolith and its Symbolic, Unnatural Conjunction
Ligeti's Kyrie Eleison from his Requiem. The monolith occurring with a once-reversed shot (55) of the previously used sunrise shot and clear examples of this. Return to "proper" orientation in shot 56. Comparing the foreground in shots 46 and 56 with shot 439 in The Shining, the one from behind Jack, he in silhouette as he suddenly appears after Wendy has read his writing. The impossible alignment of the sun and moon above the monolith which means it is symbolic and represents perhaps the "hour of noon" in Neitzche's writings. Sample given. Examination of memory in relationship to the primate killed by the panther. Shot 105 of the thrown bone which revolves counter-clockwise ascending and then briefly is out of view and when we see it again still ascending it is now moving clockwise.

To the Moon - Shots 106 thru 222 (about 54:33)

To the Moon -- The Eternal Return Waltz, Shots 106 through 126
Johann Strauss II's "The Blue Danube Waltz" and doubling in the choice of music from Johann and Richard. The bone becoming the satellite. The red-tipped floating pen maintains a clockwise rotation (most things change). Ancient hominids and their anxiety over vulnerability while asleep as opposed the sleeping Heywood. Notes on the reversal in spin of the space station. The pilots of the Orion and doubling. .
See You on the Way Back -- Meeting with the Russians, Shots 127 through 144
It's morning for Heywood and Miller so this is, in effect, another "sunrise" section, as with the Dawn of Man. Differences of spin of the earth through the windows of Space Station 5. Helen, the Odyssey, and "Paris Match". Symslov named for chess player Vasily Smyslov. The conversation as chess. Smyslov and the hotel clerk in Eyes Wide Shut. Smyslov as Barry's rival in Barry Lyndon.
The Moving Djinn Chairs
Djinn and the protean morphing theme in Kubrick's films.
The Bushbaby
The Eternal Return Waltz Redux and Aries Vistas, Shots 145 through 169
Karate and the refinement of fighting to an art form. Food (divorced from its origins) and the language of symbol. The stewardess revolves 180 degrees to enter the pilot cabin when instead she should have revolved 90 degrees and exited through the portal foremost to the camera. Shot 159 giving a clear view of the pilot windows at the "top" of the craft, their orientation about a 90 degree turn from the passenger area rather than a 180 degree turn. The pilots of the Aires 1b as doubles, just as in the earlier Orion shuttle. It is impossible for the pilots to have a view of the moon and the base as they do in 162 as their windows are actually pointed away at an 180 degree angle. The antrhopomorphizing of the Aries.
Karate and the Open Hand
Grave Potential for Cultural Shock and Social Disorientation -- The Conference, Shots 170 through 181
The 12 conference attendees and the last supper (continuing with the them of the Requiem Mass). The structure of the shots of the speech.
Communion, Shots 182 through 205
Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" (eternal light" and the communion antiphon for the Requiem Mass. Anamnesis and the paschal mystery. TMA, Tycho Magnetic Anomaly, relationship to "magnesia" and the philosopher's stone. The seeming 5th person in on the moonbus.
The Crater, Tycho, and the Communion Cup and How We're Not Seeing What We Believe We're Seeing
Heywood's Encounter
Tycho and "bull's eye". Orion and the hunter. Aries and the ram of the vernal equinox golden fleece, the Reborn Sun. Relationship of the crater Tycho to the waterhole in the Dawn of Man section. Orientation confusions approaching the monolith so that shot 211 feels like 206. Monolith as the "between", a dividing line. The photographer as the first to react to the piercing sound. The impossible convergence above the monolith (we have alreasdy seen the earth was just above the lunar horizon and the sun way off to the side).
The Photographer

The Oracle - Shots 223 thru 360 (about 1:27:02)

Gayane and a Disorienting Introduction to the Ship, Shots 223 through 229
Khachaturain's Adagio from the 1942 Gayane ballet. Orion and the killing of the wild beasts. Slaying of Orion after the healing of his eyesight. Dave as the intellectual where Frank expresses concerns of the body (exercise). Their twin aspects. Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Discovery One as a nervous system (spine and skull). Flips of orientation during the exercise scene. In shot 227, not only is the camera now following behind Frank instead of preceding him at the beginning, Frank is running in the opposite direction. Furthermore, not only is Frank running in the opposite direction, Kubrick has flipped the orientation of the film horizontally. We don't notice the change because the shots of Frank open with him running in an orientation 90 degrees turned from a normal standing view. I clearly outline the process in the analysis (an easy way to keep track is by the part in Frank's hair).
The Role of the Photographer in an Interview with HAL, Poole, and Dave, and a Great Big Question Concerning HAL, Shots 120 through 256
Who is doing the filming for the interview on the ship--which I consider as we have four different angles. The reverse image shots of the hibernators. Parallels between HAL and the photographer. The headrests and their disappearance. Changes in the shots of HAL's eye. How Dave and Frank watch slightly different versions of the interview.
A Second Birthday, Shots 257 through 263
236 in 2001 and 236 in The Shining. During the talk with Frank's parents, the views of the instead empty tanning bed and Dave asleep in his pod. The one shot of a nature scene on earth above Dave's pod. The 90 degree rise of the tanning bed's head and its seeming relationship to Frank's disappearance. How we have the same with Danny's disappearance in the maze in The Shining. Frank's orange sunglasses and HAL.
Chess with Poole (Alternate Moves and Simultaneous Views), Shot 264
The number 64 sometimes accompanies Kubrick's chess games and boxing matches. How HAL's chess game with Dave plays out, shown with descriptive images. 3 ways the chess game can play out due the language used. (Kubrick sometimes gives 3 perspectives, such as of the happenings in Room 237.) Only one game results in a checkmate but all involve the 90 degree diagonal jump of the knight. The capture of Charlotte's queen in Lolita. The 2001 chess game based on Roesch vs. Willi Schlage in 1910. Considerataions on the bishop. The horizontal flip mirrorings, dualism. HAL's ability to see both sides at once, which is his error, that he expresses the chess board from Frank's POV.
Sketching with Dave, an Oracle from HAL (whose Eye is not What it Seems to be) and More Chess, Shots 265 through 287
HAL takes after Symslov (named after a chess master) who had identically apologized for being too inquisitive before posing a question. As with Floyd, Dave replies he doesn't know what (HAL) means. The occlusion in HAL's eye. HAL's programming and duplicity. The flatness of Dave. How the communication "dish" is an evolution of the moon crater which was an evolution of the water hole. HAL's rotation of the AE35 unit (simulation) so it is turned at a 90 degree angle, and as it finishes the turn the target aspect disappears. Possible connection of the Alpha Echo 35 to the ECO codes that are a classification for chess opening moves. ECO A35 as a symmetrical opening move. The picture of the Tycho Magnetic Anomaly suggests chess with its suggestion of 64 squares. Frank and Dave at a 90 degree angle from one another. The growing similarity of Frank and Dave.
Dave's Space Walk, Shots 291 through 333
Comparing the audience's view of Dave entering the pod in 293 with Frank's view in shot 294, nearly identical but reversed. Horizontal flip. Dave's horizontal flip in shot 310 during the EVA then return to "appropriate" orientation.
AE 35 and its Maze Aspects
In Error, Shots 334 through 346
A Hidden Convergence and Various Aspects of Taurus. 346, an unusual shot of HAL's eye in which we see a hidden convergence, HAL's eye as the sun and a crescent above it. Taurus, the vernal equinox, and the Cretan Bull. Taurus containing the red star of Aldebaran. Taurus and Pesach Shani, the second passover.
The Theme of Crises in Communication in Kubrick's Films, Shots 347 through 360
Comparing crises in communication in 2001 to Dr. Strangelove and The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. The final shot before intermission is 360 so we have a full revolution. However it may instead be 361, for the final shot of the "orgy" scene in Eyes Wide Shut is 361 and is paired with the idea that there is "no turning back". So 361 would be surpassing the point of turning back. We may have the same here. We have the opportunity to move this to be shot 360 back at shot 105 when the bone, traveling upward, changes direction in seeming midshot. In other films I have handled such breaks as two shots (see shots 225 and 226 in Killer's Kiss and shots 319 and 320 in The Killing for examples).
HAL's Error

The Oracle Unfolds - Shots 361 thru 511 (about 1:56:56)

Atmospheres, Shot 361
This part is a doubling of Dave's EVA by Frank with doublings of shots that appear slightly different. Comparison to the same reduplication of a journey by Alex the new man in A Clockwork Orange and Bill after his experience at Somerton in Eyes Wide Shut. Deja vu and anamnesis. HAL's oracle and predetermination. The assurance of the fruition of the oracle by the elimination of free agents. HAL as a conscious entity, but he is without breath.
Lather, Rinse, Poole's Space Walk. Shots 362 through 380
Repeat. Comparison of repeated/duplicated shots in Dave's mission and Frank's EVA. Shot 368 and the impossibility of Dave viewing this shot of Frank. This is a reduplication of the shot of Dave leaving the pod but the audience viewed that, whereas here Dave is viewing Frank leaving the pod, and it is absolutely impossible for him to view it. (I love this. It's so much fun.) The Little Things. The bar of light in the pod window. The 3 lights in the CU of Pod's eye and the 3 lights in the window behind the slain girls in The Shining. Danny's single eye and HAL's eye. The continued zoom of HAL's eye eventually shows the eye with the occlusion that is supposedly back on the ship, not the eye of HAL on this pod outside the ship.
The Show Down, Shots 381 through 511
Dave Pursues Poole in Absolutely the Opposite Direction From Which He'd Disappeared. Frank's hurtling away is reminiscent of the astroid that flies past in Dave's EVA. Frank spun off to the "left" of Discovery One. Dave flies off to the "right" side. The Dreamless Sleep of the Hibernators. Again, the Eye of HAL Which is Not There. The emotional power in Dave's release of Frank's body to the void. Comparing shot 482 with shot 291--so similar as to be identical but are not. Compare with Wendy's running down the red hall in The Shining and the emergence of a new connecting hall not observed before. The color pink in this scene and the pink in the Space Station flight attendant scenes. "See you on the way back." 486 and the new view of HAL's eye never seen before. Why is the prerecorded message staticky, cutting in and out?
Comparing the Death of Poole with the Assault of Danny in The Shining
Perceptual and Conceptual Knowledge

Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite - Shots 512 thru 597 (about 2:20:22)

Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite
The silent gap. The experience now shifts to being that of the viewer.
The Mind's Eye, Shots 512 through 563
Dave goes to the end of the rainbow with, in shot 563, his eye shown in numerous colors. See, of course, Eyes Wide Shut and the invitation for Bill to go to where the rainbow ends. Iris.
The Hotel Room, Shots 564 through 597
The floor of the bedroom is as if what was the ceiling of the Space Station where we saw the Hilton and Howard Johnson's Hotels. The ceiling becoming the floor is anticipated with the 180 degree turn of the flight attendant on the Aries. The painting by Boucher, Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Faustus. The turquoise in the background, beyond and reflected in Dave's red helmet, in shot 572, and its relationship to the titles in The Shining and the "reversing" rug in The Shining. The inversion of color. These colors seen also when Dave cut off the communication in the pod so he and Frank could speak. The peculiar reflection in the window of Dave's helmet, reversed, brings back the scene of Heywood speaking with the Russians on Space Station 5. And now is when I discuss the Djinn chairs designed by Olivier Mourge and the protean nature of Djinn. Go to Fear and Desire for Proteus as the dog and Eyes Wide Shut for the book Kubrick includes which has shapeshifting djinn. I discuss elsewhere morphing throughout Kubrick's work, such as signaled in The Shining in music titled "Polymorphia". Where the character of Symslov (named after a chess player) should be seems replaced by a monolith type object? HAL had at one point duplicated Symslov's dialogue. The monolith figure appears to be the cause of the occlusion in HAL's eye. Plato's Republic. A comparison with Bowman in 573 with Frank in shot 364. Dave confronts his elder self in the bathroom mirror just as Jack confronts the old, decaying woman in the bathroom mirror in Room 237. The double wheel of the space station and the dining cart. Shot 584 establishes the room as a chess board with 64 squares on the floor. Shots 584 and 585 have the same move of a chess figure on the floor (the Rook, which is the chariot of the dining table) as observed in the shots of Danny on the "reversed" carpet of the Overlook. Though not actually reversed (he moves diagonally) this does incorporate the idea of being able to see both sides at once due the seeming reversal. Dave's shattering of the glass and Alex's drinking of the wine. The water glass of Dave's breaks on chess board square E1. This is the moment at which, back in the chess game between Frank and HAL, Frank moving his rook from F1 to E1, that HAL says, "I think you missed something." Dave now looks up and sees himself in the bed. And then the monolith appears which would be an approximation of HAL's move of the Queen two spaces to Bishop 3 (Bishop 6) with HAL seeing both points of view at once. We then see the duality on either side of the monolith, the mirrored opposites, and the monolith as the space between the opposites. This 2nd section of the film is 237 shots just as is the number of the perplexing room in The Shining.

Supplemental Posts

Examining Kubrick's Single Horizontal Flip of a Front Screen Projection Landscape in the Dawn of Man Section in 2001 and the Meaning of that Flip in Relation to the Final View of the Monolith in the Film

The Relationship Between the Chess Game in 2001, Dave’s Dinner in the Room Beyond the Infinite, and Danny on the Reversed Rug in The Shining

Kubrick's 2001 and the Paintings in the Beyond the Infinite Hotel Room . Examining the use, in 2001, of Francois Boucher's La Tendre Pastorale and the painting from Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much

A Brief Primer on Stanley Kubrick's Counting of Shots in His Films

The Nietzsche Stone, The Shining, and the Opening of 2001 : The Influence of the Nietzsche's Madness and Dostoevsky's Horse

Notes on the Analyses

Are you one of the league who find Kubrick's cinema fascinating and wonderful but are also confused by seeming peculiarities? Are you certain those often under-the-radar-over-the-head weirdnesses must mean something? Or maybe you're just curious? Here's my request. That you, please, think in terms of art with intention, which isn't conspiracy and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. Would you think of music composed of unspoken themes as being conspiracy? What's difficult is teasing out the artist's conscious intention as versus accidental as versus the viewer's role as an active pilgrim walking the road that art provides to accessing the unconscious and mythic, the vast knowledge that has been archived in your brain from birth forward of symbols and metaphors and archetypes through navigating the warehouse of such that is actively and passively feeding you in the cultures of everyday society. As an author and artist, I know what it is to hope for at least a few such pilgrims, confident they are the minority, that most think in terms of being only entertained, and to attempt to compose for both. Even with those who are just wanting a good story, or who want to dissect a film for practical good-cinema purposes, the majority would likely admit that it is the inherent mystery in Kubrick's films that functions as their primary gravity. It is that sense of something deeper, a subterranean coherence that provides the glue, that compels individuals to return and perhaps begin to move, without their even realizing it, from a passive state into a more active, participatory role where art becomes a transformative experience rather than just visual popcorn. For that matter, even a simple detective story can actively engage the viewer, and Kubrick's films have a touch of the detective genre to them. For instance, at the end of The Shining Kubrick zooms in on Jack seemingly appearing in an old photograph of The Overlook, and he is holding what looks like a little slip of paper, a little rectangle of white in the palm of his hand, as if displaying it for us, but what is it? One is compelled to try to solve the mystery of Jack in the photo, what could be in his hand, so one watches the movie again. That's the sleuthing, detective part of watching Kubrick's films.

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this deconstruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates and reveals these elements that betray the overt and naturalistic story line as being artifice, a studio fiction that rests upon something both more solid and also bizarre. The surface story lines are the principle ones, but they are maintained and supported by the sub rosa dialogue. These deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and play with a purposeful sense of disorientation that when locked into exposes a puzzle that annihilates the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept, and it's easy enough to stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors. But they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why" of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form in the hands of the participant viewer who is engaged rather than a passive recipient.

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