R.I.P Hal, the killer computer

I’d wager that most science fiction fans have seen the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film, 2001. I’d also wager that most of the viewers would agree on the movie’s most memorable character.

It’s not this dude, heroic astronaut Dave Bowman:

It’s Hal 9000, the Killer Computer!

Why do I bring this up now? Because Hal recently died at the age of 90 in Stratford, Ontario.

If you haven’t seen the movie, or even if you have, here’s one of the memorable confrontations between astronaut Dave Bowman the creepily calm computer.

Actually, it was the actor who voiced Hal who died. His name was Douglas Rain, and he was a founding member of the company at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Can you name any other science fiction actors who also played Shakespeare? Tell us you guesses in a comment, then check out SyfyWire’s listing of 22 Shakespearean space dudes . . . including William Shatner as Mark Antony.


But first one more Youtube tune for you. 2001 made composer Richard Strauss into a popular success, a couple decades after his death. Here’s the wonderful opening of Thus Spake Zarathustra used in the film.

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8 comments

  1. Diane Burton · · Reply

    Fascinating! I didn’t realize the connection between HAL and Stratford. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I found that interesting myself, which is why I posted this. I should add, though, that this is the Stratford ONTARIO Shakespeare Festival.

  2. Thanks so much for this, Ed, I got very nostalgice, playing the clips. I was absolutely blown away by this film the first time I saw it, having read the book (for me it was one of the few films that did the original book justice). I fell in love with Hal’s voice and chocked up in the scene where he is disconnected. So sorry to hear of the death of Douglas Rain, he was the perfect choice for Hal. RIP

    1. I was on a panel a Comic Con recently, and the conversation wandered to Robert Heinlein’s Door into Summer. The panelists all agreed that the only thing we remembered was the cat, even though he’s minor character. It’s a similar thing with Hal — he’s so vivid that you remember him even if you forget everything else.

  3. Oops, I meant nostalgic! 🙂

    1. It’s a bitch when we can’t edit our own words, isn’t it?

  4. Yep – especially when we can’t spell ‘choked’ properly either! :0 (Hindsight is a wonderful thing!)

    1. I guess I thought that was the Welsh spelling.

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