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'2001' in 2014: Reimagining Kubrick via Chris Nolan's 'Interstellar'

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2001 Interstellar

EXT. THE DAWN OF TIME – DAY

A proto-human HOMINID kneels on the ground of the prehistoric Earth. Suddenly, a large shadow covers him. He looks up and sees a large rectangular MONOLITH.

A voiceover begins, British.

BRITISH VOICEOVER: The first recorded monolith appeared on Earth 4 million years ago, in the Pleistocene era.

INT. LABORATORY FILLED WITH CHALKBOARDS – DAY

Dr. HEYWOOD FLOYD stands in front of chalkboards with important-looking quantum-physics proofs scrawled across them. He is old, British, and probably played by Michael Caine.

HEYWOOD FLOYD: That would dovetail almost precisely with the first appearance of simple tools. It could very well be that these monoliths were instrumental in the evolution of man from the animal state into a higher state of consciousness. We believe this monolith is a window into a higher dimension.

Dr. Floyd is talking to DAVE BOWMAN, a brilliant engineer who is also a space pilot who also has deep thoughts about the purpose of humanity.

DAVE BOWMAN: But why are you telling me this, doctor? I’m just a simple everyday everyman who also happens to be a fabulously overqualified action hero.

HEYWOOD FLOYD: Because, Dave. We found another monolith on the moon. It sent out two signals. One signal was directed toward Jupiter. The other led us right to your door.

DAVE BOWMAN: So you’re saying this monolith chose me for something? But why me?

HEYWOOD FLOYD: We don’t know. But we do know that we have this prototype spaceship that’s built for deep-space travel, and we need a pilot to fly it. Ideally, the pilot should be someone with a thinly sketched backstory that provides an emotional hook for the story. Like, are you married?

DAVE BOWMAN: My wife is dead, but I do have an adorable daughter.

HEYWOOD FLOYD: Perfect!

INT. BOWMAN RESIDENCE – DAY

Dave is hugging his adorable daughter, OCK. There are loud organs playing on the soundtrack, so we can tell this is a really emotional scene.

DAVE BOWMAN: I’m sorry, Ock. I have to go into space. It’s the only way to save humanity.

OCK BOWMAN: Wait, you’re saving humanity? I thought you were just going into space out of the spirit of exploration.

DAVE BOWMAN: That didn’t seem like an urgent enough motivation. Now there’s a plague on Earth, or something, and only the monoliths can save us, maybe.

OCK BOWMAN: Well, daddy, if you get in any trouble, remember that the simplest solution is probably the correct one.

DAVE BOWMAN: My razor-sharp little girl. That’s why your mother named you Occam.

OCK BOWMAN: Yeah. Thanks for that. Also, I had this weird dream last night, daddy, where this tall monolith-looking thing was speaking to me.

DAVE BOWMAN: What’d it say?

OCK BOWMAN: “Beware of what comes before the one.”

DAVE BOWMAN: I’m sure it’s nothing, honey.

The organs start playing LOUDER.

INT. DISCOVERY ONE – DAY

Dave walks around the circular bridge of the DISCOVERY ONE. He’s flanked by his fellow crew members: FRANK POOLE, handsome and well-dressed; VICTOR KAMINSKY, well-dressed and handsome; JACK KIMBALL, well-dressed but not handsome; and CHARLIE HUNTER, woman.

FRANK POOLE: Dave, we just launched into space, so now it’s time to meet the sixth member of our expedition.

DAVE BOWMAN: It makes sense that I didn’t have time to meet him, since I think I only heard about this mission 10 minutes ago.

Frank gestures to a LARGE ROBOT with a FUNNY TV SCREEN HEAD. This is HAL.

HAL: Hello, Dave. I’m the Heuristically Progammed Algorithmic computer, but you can call me Hal for short.

DAVE BOWMAN: Hi, Hal.

HAL: I’ve been programmed to provide comic relief, although most of my humor will be focused on the fact that I’ve been programmed to provide comic relief, thus creating an ourobouros of comedy.

CHARLIE: That’s like a snake eating its own tail!

DAVE BOWMAN: Nice to meet you Hal. [Pause.] That’s weird, for a second I almost thought that our interaction might go to an interesting, dark place, like maybe you would do bad things for good reasons, and we’d all have to meditate on what it means to be sentient, and ask ourselves deep questions about consciousness.

HAL: (produces fart noise from his speaker system)

Everyone laughs. The speaker system suddenly cracks to life.

HEYWOOD FLOYD (on speaker system): “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both, and be one traveler, long I stood…”

DAVE BOWMAN: What’s that?

CHARLIE: Oh, Doctor Floyd recorded himself reading every poem that high school kids have to memorize in sophomore year English. He said it would provide our mission with a crucial layer of self-importance.

HEYWOOD FLOYD (on speaker system): “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

DAVE BOWMAN: Hell yeah, poetry!

INT. DISCOVERY ONE – NIGHT

The crew of the Discovery One sits in an important-looking room. Everyone is holding a whiteboard.

CHARLIE: We’ve got a problem. It turns out space travel is pretty boring on a purely narrative level. The good news is, it turns out that there was another mission sent to Jupiter before us, so we can investigate that while we bide our time getting to the good stuff in Act Three.

JACK KIMBALL: Another mission? Impossible! We’re the Discovery One.

CHARLIE: And this ship is called the Discovery Zero.

DAVE BOWMAN: “Beware what comes before the one…”

CHARLIE: What’s that, super pilot Dave Bowman?

DAVE BOWMAN: Something my daughter told me before I left. Hey, have I told you guys about my daughter yet?

CHARLIE: Literally only every minute of every day for the last 18 months.

EXT. DISCOVERY ZERO

Dave floats toward the apparently abandoned Discovery Zero spaceship, alongside fellow astronaut Frank Poole.

DAVE BOWMAN: When did the crew of the Discovery Zero stop transmitting?

FRANK POOLE: What do you mean, “When did they stop transmitting”? We’ve had months to plan this rescue mission. Didn’t you read the file?

DAVE BOWMAN: I prefer for people to tell me expository dialogue right in the middle of an action scene. It makes the exposition sound more urgent.

FRANK POOLE: Why don’t we just have, like, a real conversation? My name’s Frank, I’m from Flagstaff, I really like Radiohead but only their early stuff…

DAVE BOWMAN: Listen, pal, unless you have a daughter or maybe some kind of dead wife, I guarantee that no one cares.

INT. DISCOVERY ZERO

An exciting action scene happens that only kills the unimportant characters. The soundtrack has so many organs.

INT. DISCOVERY ONE

Back in the room with the whiteboards. Charlie is drawing on her whiteboard while Frank and Dave watch.

CHARLIE: From what we can tell, there was nothing biologically wrong with the crew of the Discovery Zero. It appears that, somewhere around Mars, they stopped having real conversations and only conducted long-winded expositional soliloquies.

DAVE BOWMAN: Biological, shmiological. Don’t you think it’s possible that there’s more going on here than science, Dr. Woman?

CHARLIE: Of course I do! I believe in love! Just because you can’t quantify something doesn’t mean it’s not there. Scientists knew about the existence of black matter for decades before anyone discovered it.

DAVE BOWMAN: DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE MY DAUGHTER!

FRANK POOLE: Guys, the mission? Monolith? Wormhole?

Dave and Charlie continue arguing about love.

HEYWOOD FLOYD (on speaker system): “The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day / The score stood four to two, with but one inning left to play.”

Frank takes a sip of whiskey.

INT. VIEWING STATION

Dave Bowman sits inside the viewing station of the Discovery looking out at Jupiter. He’s drinking a beer and is wearing a Rolex™ Submariner™ Brand watch.

DAVE BOWMAN: You know, Frank, a lot of people say that space is dead, that this whole universe is just a graveyard of life that never happened.

FRANK POOLE: You know, Dave, I get that you think that you’re the last optimistic human being ever. You’re reducing the complexity of science and the modern era to a binary straw-man argument, where if people don’t believe in your willfully optimistic perspective, then they’re cynical nihilists. The truth is a lot more complicated, and…

DAVE BOWMAN: But if you ask me, space isn’t a graveyard. It’s a garden. Someday, life’s gonna flourish out here, beyond the stars.

FRANK POOLE: (drinking heavily from his flask) That’s a really nice idea, Dave.

DAVE BOWMAN: You know what, though, life isn’t just about living. Life is about getting out of the way so the people after you can live.

FRANK POOLE: Sure, yeah. Your daughter.

DAVE BOWMAN: My daughter.

Dave nods his head.

EXT. JUPITER

The camera is outside of the spaceship, so everything is in IMAX. The scene is shot using practical effects and 70mm film, so you can really appreciate how the bizarre camera angle makes it impossible to see whatever the shot is trying to show you.

INT. DISCOVERY ONE

Back in the whiteboard room.

CHARLIE: We sure have had a wild time these last two and a half hours, haven’t we? Remember those flashbacks to Earth, and those scenes with Dave’s daughter doing stuff?

Frank overturns the table, draws a gun.

FRANK POOLE: I can’t take this anymore! Since there hasn’t been any interpersonal drama in this entire movie, I’m going Space Crazy!

DAVE BOWMAN: Calm down there, Frank.

FRANK POOLE: I won’t calm down! All you people do is talk about saving the human race, but you’re just a bunch of vapid automatons! Hell, the only likable character is this damn robot, and that’s because he occasionally talks about things not relating to the plot!

Hal: (produces fart noise from his speaker system)

FRANK POOLE: Maybe the human race doesn’t deserve to be saved! And WHY THE HELL IS THIS CAMERA ALWAYS SHAKING IN MY FACE? IT ONLY CREATES SYNTHETIC TENSION!

The shaky camera filming this scene bumps into Frank. The gun goes off and opens up a hole in the side of the ship. Frank flies out into space, with a smile on his face.

INT. DISCOVERY ONE – CONTROL ROOM

Charlie sits at the controls. She looks out the window at the mission capsule, and waves through the window at Dave.

CHARLIE: Okay, Dave, you know what to do. The explosion that resulted from that gunshot for some reason put us off course. Right now, we’re slingshotting back toward Earth. But once you fire those rockets, we’ll be back on course for whatever’s waiting for us by Jupiter.

DAVE BOWMAN: Gotcha.

Dave decouples the capsule from the ship.

CHARLIE: What are you doing?!

DAVE BOWMAN: Tell my daughter I love her.

CHARLIE: Wait, so you’re gonna go into the cool wormhole thing, and you’re leaving me behind? Me, a brilliant scientist? And you didn’t discuss this with me? And isn’t this all vaguely paternalistic, that you’re “saving” the only female character in the movie, after you’ve spent an entire movie talking about how you’re “saving” your daughter?

DAVE BOWMAN: I like to improvise.

CHARLIE: Ellen Ripley is turning over in her grave.

DAVE BOWMAN: Psh, Aliens was so unrealistic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go fly into a black hole.

INT. BLACK HOLE – ETERNITY

Dave falls into a wormhole. Crazy space stuff is happening around him.

HAL: Hello? Dave, are you there?

DAVE BOWMAN: Hal? Our transmitters are still working?

HAL: Yeah, man! Wormholes are crazy!

DAVE BOWMAN: What’s going on, Hal? Why are these crazy lights flying by all around me?

HAL: I think you’re experiencing a profound journey through the space-time continuum, punctuated by tantalizing images of the cosmos.

DAVE BOWMAN: Oh. I guess I didn’t really need you to tell me that.

HAL: But isn’t it more fun to experience something when you have someone explaining what you’re experiencing while you’re experiencing it? It’s like the director’s commentary never turns off, baby!

INT. SYMBOLIC MANSION – ETERNITY

Dave is inside of a mansion. It looks symbolic.

HAL: Dave! You’re inside of a three-dimensional space that was built by higher beings, probably the same beings who built that monolith!

DAVE BOWMAN: But why a mansion? That doesn’t necessarily immediately have something to do with the plot of this movie.

INT. BOWMAN HOUSEHOLD – ETERNITY

Dave talks to his daughter, just like back at the start of the movie. Meanwhile, Dave and Hal watch that scene playing, behind some kind of cosmic curtain.

OCK BOWMAN: Well, daddy, if you get in any trouble, remember that the simplest solution is probably the correct one.

DAVE BOWMAN: My God, Hal, Ock knew all along. She knew.

HAL: What’s that, Dave?

DAVE BOWMAN: The simplest solution. The monolith…Michael Caine said that the monolith was a window to a higher dimension. But it’s not a window, Hal, it’s a mirror!

HAL: WHOA. What an unexpected turn of events!

DAVE BOWMAN: I know, right?

INT. SPACE – MORNING

Dave Bowman has been reborn as a starchild. This scene is shot in IMAX, except for close-ups on faces.

DAVE BOWMAN: I’m a starchild now, which is the colloquial term for the next stage of human evolution, because this whole movie is a metaphor for the human spirit.

Ock Bowman floats alongside him, in a spacesuit.

OCK BOWMAN: That’s nice, daddy. So Earth is saved?

DAVE BOWMAN: It was never just about saving Earth, Ock. It was about saving hope. Because hope is the strongest force in the whole universe.

OCK BOWMAN: I thought it was love?

DAVE BOWMAN: Sure, whatever!

Organs play.