A Space Odyssey Theory That Has Fans Looking Twice At HAL

Programmed with a human-adjacent personality, HAL is in almost every way a member of the crew in “2001.” He can engage in complex conversations, evaluate emotional states, judge intentions, read lips, play chess, and as it turns out, critique artwork. At one point, HAL strikes up a conversation with Bowman when he walks past, asking him if he’s been working on his drawings and then asking to see his work. Bowman holds various drawings up for HAL to see, and the computer compliments him and offers encouraging comments about how his sketches of his cryo-slumbering crewmates are getting progressively better.

Later in the film, after HAL has murdered most of the crew, including Poole, Bowman decides he has to shut HAL down. At first, HAL begs Bowman not to delete his memory cards before singing him a touching rendition of “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” as Bowman slowly, bit by bit, takes the computer offline. So yeah, Bowman kills HAL.

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Overall, HAL’s tone and general attitude toward Bowman have thus given rise to the theory that HAL, clearly imbued with the intelligence and depth of personality to develop strong bonds with humans, has developed romantic feelings for the astronaut. While Stanley Kubrick denied that HAL is gay (via Point of View Magazine), Clarke, on the other hand, refused to say (via Gizmodo). Either way, the theory that HAL was in love with Bowman does seem to have some fans giving this intriguing cyber-persona from “2001” a second look.


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