When astronauts Bowman and Poole realize that HAL has made a mistake they go to a capsule to discuss their thoughts in private. They turn off comms with the ship and test that HAL doesn't follow their orders to make sure HAL can't hear them. However HAL is watching through the capsule window and is shown reading their lips.

This dialog is however as silent for HAL as for the rest of us, and I for one couldn't do any lip reading to save my life. Is this dialog a rehash of previous shown conversation or some new dialog? What are they saying? Is there a transcript?

  • 1
    Kubrick had a way of not going by the book if get the gist. In the Shining he changed the room number and about a hundred other fine details. I really do believe Kubrick has been intertwining his own cryptic tales in almost every film he's made. I saw 2001 again the other day after 20 years or so and couldn't help but notice that the words didn't seem to match up with what the lip read close-up/inserts were showing but then again I can't read lips. Maybe Next time I'm around deaf company I'll bring it up.
    – user14223
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 9:56
  • The scene is not in the book, so there is no transcript beyond the subtitles in the film. Commented May 31, 2013 at 12:01
  • Worth pointing out the book and movie were made side-by-side, so changes were happening on both sides.
    – ench
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 1:00

3 Answers 3


I'd have to dig out my copy to be positive, but I'm pretty sure that before they cut to the silent scene of HAL reading their lips, they show Bowman and Pool in the pod, testing if HAL can hear them and then discussing if he's malfunctioning. (And what they'll have to do if he is.)

Here's a Youtube clip of the scene I'm talking about. First it shows what they're saying, then it repeats the same dialog from HAL's point of view.

  • 2
    How can you be sure it's the same dialog? Commented May 20, 2012 at 16:55
  • 12
    Because it's a simpler explanation than assuming they discussed something else, and also because it's in the book. Commented May 20, 2012 at 16:59
  • 2
    +1 Their exact words don't matter, but the fact they are discussing whether HAL is malfunctioning and what to do about it.
    – Andres F.
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 0:31
  • 8
    @AndresF. Don't matter for what? Personally, this site has become one of my most reliable sources of "futile" information. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 1:14
  • 1
    @MatemáticosChibchas Don't matter for that particular scene and for the movie; i.e. knowing this detail wouldn't enhance your understanding of the movie or its message. (Also, as I've stated in meta, I couldn't care less for random trivia. If I want trivia, I go to TVTropes, which is tons more detailed than scifi.SE, and does it better).
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 17:57

In an interview with the actors, Keir Dullea said that the footage of their silent lips was likely part the dialog that we'd already heard, since they didn't film any extra dialog specifically for the lips closeup.

  • 3
    Welcome to Sci Fi and Fantasy SE. Do you have any source for the interview that you could link?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 23:20
  • Also, rather than adding the link, you can add quotations directly Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 23:52

In this interview with Kier Dullea (Bowman) he states, admittedly with some uncertainty, that the silent dialogue seen from HAL's POV is essentially identical to the dialogue heard earlier in the scene.

Keir Dullea: “People have what we were saying at this moment. I don’t recall, but I am- but my memory- you know, I would imagine that this was just probably the same dialogue you’ve just seen redone because it didn’t matter since it was silent.”


  • 1
    I'm not sure why this merited a downvote.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 9:14
  • 1
    I'd guess because some people thought it was too similar to the existing answer from 5 years ago, but that didn't include the actual quote or source
    – Mohirl
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 13:18
  • 1
    @Mohirl - I'm actually pretty underwhelmed with both existing answers. Neither would survive if they were posted in 2022
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 13:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.