Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of Lise's Hal's Birthday Rewatch list
Mood, well, excited. In these dark days small pleasures mean a lot. We had a charcuterie with wine before descending to the theatre, so a bit of a buzz but not much. These days I usually puff before the show, as I just love letting the visuals wash over me, but I delayed until the end of Dawn of Man. The reason being is that a friend is staying with us during COVID, and she’s rather averse to scenes of violence. I didn’t want her to see the ‘bone’ scene while high, so waited for the beautiful and poetic waltz that is Pan Am seducing Space Station IV.
Of course, the first thing that hit me was during Floyds meeting with the Russian scientists ( 2 being women I might again add … with names and speaking parts who don’t talk about men ) where Leonard Rossiter, in his worst Rushlish accent gravely inquires about the rumors of an ‘epidemic of an unknown origin’ at the American Clavius base. It’s so strange to think that at my last year's HAL’s Birthday watch what we’re going through now was just about to unfold.
In previous reviews I’ve noted the sexual allusions of the space ships. The Pan Am clipper docking sequence, the Orion being greeted by the petals of the Clavius base landing station opening, and even the Moon Bus touching down at the TMA-1 site. What just struck me on this viewing is that while these are humans replicating their own biological behavior on their technology, I never thought that ‘the technology’ might notice this, particularly if you have technology that might be on the edge of sentience. Maybe this emboldens technology to think that it’s on-par, or maybe even superior to its creators.
Up until this viewing, I always regarded the struggle between the human astronauts and HAL as a ‘test’ that the aliens placed on humankind. Upon ruminating on this viewing, I think that it might not have been a ‘test’ but rather a ‘contest’.
Dave, as a human, ultimately triumphed. But what if he didn’t?
Another thing I noticed this time is passion. The man-apes had it, and it was only enhanced by the visitation and imbued knowledge and what that power gave them. The ultimate power … the power over life and death that they never had. I’ve previously written about how after Dawn of Man, humankind has maintained it’s same need for control over others of our species, but it became calculated and cool … calculation taking over from passion. While it may appear to be a progression, it’s still an aim to dominate your enemy. In the struggle between HAL and the astronauts, HAL is the one with passion until he takes action against Frank. This ignites the passion within Dave.
Is passion why we won?
Also part of my Jonnie's musings on 2001 list