This is kind of an odd Interiors post, but it’s topical; this week is the 48th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s mind-blowing science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which premiered in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 1968. Any self-respecting SF fan or cinema buff has seen the movie, and it makes an impression on everyone. At the end of the picture, wayward astronaut Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea), the sole survivor of the Earth spaceship Discovery, comes through some sort of dimensional gate and winds up in this room. It’s not clear why, or where the room is or who built it, though it’s implicit that it’s the work of some super-intelligent alien race who built the gate and drew Bowman into it. In any event, this room at least resembles a room on Earth, with Renaissance paintings and sculptures, a sort of neo-Baroque style furniture, and most notably glowing floor tiles. Note that the photo above is actually a model of the bedroom, on display in the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Art. The real thing was a set, deconstructed shortly after shooting wrapped in 1967. The black slab in the middle is the “monolith” that is a frequent motif in the film.
Kubrick was a perfectionist, and you can rest assured that every aspect of this room and its design was subject to his own personal approval. The paintings are actually set into the walls, not just framed and hanging on them. There’s sort of a neo-Classical style to some of the furnishings, but note that Kubrick resisted the temptation to deck out the room in gaudy 1960s-era colors or patterns, as a lesser designer might have done. Of course the room has no windows, no doors that we can see and is essentially a prison cell. The strange way the final scenes of the film are shot suggest that Bowman lives out the remaining years of his life in this room, ultimately becoming oblivious to the passage of time, or if not oblivious, perhaps uncaring. After encountering the monolith on his deathbed, he is reborn into a sort of cosmic baby, the “Star-Child” who appears in the film’s final shot–but which we see, in the shot before that, sort of “forming” in a mass above the bed in this strange bedroom.
This close-up of the model is from a Flickr user, Jeremy Sternberg. Although I’ve put it into this article (Creative Commons license), I recommend you visit where it’s hosted on Flickr, because there you can click it on to magnify and move it around on your screen to examine details. It’s really an interesting piece of interior modeling. Pretty interesting–and it makes you want to see the movie again!