Non-Submersible Units

“[Stanley] had a contempt for narrative, I was hooked on narrative. But he said to me: forget it, all you need for a movie is 6 or 8 non-submersible units.”

Brian Aldiss

Non-submersible units are fundamental story pieces, the irreducible core of a narrative when all the non essential “padding” has been stripped away. According to Brian Aldiss, Kubrick’s collaborator on the scipt for AI, “One of the many sensible and perceptive comments he made over the years was that a movie consists of, at most, say 60 scenes, whereas a book can have countless scenes. So, he said, it’s very difficult to boil down a novel to make a film, as he found with The Shining. Much easier to take a short story and turn that into a major movie. ‘All you need is six non-submersible units. Forget about the connections for the moment […] once you’ve heard this, you see how 2001 was constructed.”

Following on from Aldiss’ last remark, here is a breakdown of 2001 into its 7 non-submersible parts.

1/ The monolith visits humankind in its infancy

2/ An early man discovers technology (Moon Watcher smashes the bones)

3/ The monolith is excavated on the moon by astronauts and sends a message to Jupiter

4/ Humankind send a manned mission to Jupiter to investigate

5/ Advanced technology (Hal) endangers the mission crew

6/ Technology is defeated and the surviving cremember rendezvous with the aliens

7/ The Starchild is born

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