Part 3: Epic Cinematography and Philosophy of 2001 Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick

0 walking through entry red suit

Continuing from Part 2: Epic Cinematography and Philosophy of 2001 Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick:

Also see Part 1 on 2001 Space Odyssey

Download/Access all the files/composition/PSD/jpeg images

You can download all the images used in this series here on Google Drive (274 MB):

Lesson: Confuse the viewer by changing perspective

The part which also blew my mind: the confusion of perspective:




Dynamic angle


The next transition scene: note the epic tilted (dutch angle) dynamic angle composition of the camera.

And not only that, but note the curved perspective (outlined in pink):


Mundane scene

Then the nice mundane scene of “DAVE” (main character) heating up his food, while his co-pilot is watching a live ‘BBC’ stream of themselves on planet Earth:

mundane scene-1mundane scene-2mundane scene-3mundane scene-4mundane scene-5mundane scene-6

Lesson: To make a movie feel more ‘real’ put more ‘everyday/mundane’ scenes into it.

Switch-up of angles and perspectives

Then we have a nice switch-up in the scene.

First, you get a head-on shot of HAL (the computer) // (I also like the grid design layout of the shot):


Second, you see ‘Dave’ shot on the right side:


Here are the angles:


Third, you see Dave’s co-pilot mirrored on the left side:


Also angles here:


Lesson: Switch up the camera angles, and play with symmetry to make more effective visual-storytelling.

Also a fun note: I guess Kubrick nailed the concept of the ‘iPad’ watching-while-eating cultural norm!

Shifting perspective

Then you see a nice shot of the crew in their ‘hibernation pods’:


Note the orientation of the astronaut in the hibernation pod (quite horizontal).


This is important because in the next scene, the orientation of the astronaut in the pod changes:



Then a wider shot of the two astronauts on board, in their life pods:

life pods-1

Then a close-up of the UI of their life support (very important to pay attention to, when later on in the film something…bad…happens to them):

life pods-2life pods-3life pods-4life pods-5

And who is the benevolent individual looking over them? Oh, our trusty HAL computer:

life pods-1

Then this angle/perspective switch is great– you can “see” from HAL’s perspective, via his fisheye lens — looking (kind of creepily) at the crew:


This is great as a technique, because it ‘puts you in the shoes’ (or in the eyes) of HAL. You can see what HAL sees– which makes you (the viewer) more engaged in the movie.


Then a nice fun scene: you get Dave sun-tanning (I guess this is how you need UV/sun radiation while in space), while he is calling his family back home (his parents wish him a happy birthday), and mention about his “earth credits/salary being increased” — which is hilarious, because what is the point of earning money, when you’re alone in a spaceship?

Visually, I love the colors of the hyper-orange sun glasses, and the shifting movement of Dave in the seat (he also asks HAL to constantly adjust the height/seat of the chair):

uv radiation-1uv radiation-2uv radiation-3uv radiation-4uv radiation-5uv radiation-6uv radiation-7uv radiation-8uv radiation-9

Color composition of the video call

This closeup of the video call terminal almost looks like a painting.

First of all, note the proportions of the squares (outlined in cyan and pink):


Even note the beautiful compositional proportions in the close-up of the family in the terminal:


Even see the negative space between the mom and father’s head from the background:


Now see it abstracted, in terms of the color combinations and the composition:


Color palette of Dave sideways

Love the aqua greens on the left of the frame, orange of his glasses, and the purple on the right of the frame:


Up, down, up, down, shift in perspective

Another masterful Stanley Kubrick shot.

First, you start with a high angle, birds-eye-view (looking down) at Dave, of him sketching something. Then as you pan out, you get confused with the perspective of his co-pilot (that is shot head-on). Then Dave changes his position, and sits down. Absolutely epic:

up down up down perspective-1up down up down perspective-2up down up down perspective-3up down up down perspective-4up down up down perspective-5up down up down perspective-6up down up down perspective-7up down up down perspective-8

Epic leading lines, centered, orange-red suit:

Then one of the most iconic scenes, the first time Dave walks through the epic tunnel of lights, and the leading lines, with his red suit:

0 walking through entry red suit

All photos:

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More to come in Part 4…

2001 Space Odyssey Series:


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Cinematography and life lessons: