Yes, it’s a really long article, but if you only read 3.8 “Renaissance” you will understand perfectly, plus it is the part I am most interested on. What do you think? Do you support all these theories? Does he realizes he’s just in a movie? It has its own arguments, worth-reading.
Many years ago, David Letterman had a routine on his TV show where he would wander into “The Museum of the Hard to Believe.” On one of these visits, he came upon a plaque that listed “all the people in the world who understand the ending of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The plaque had two names on it.
It seems to be little more than a recitation of Rob Ager’s Youtube analysis of a little more than two years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P95NWAHWLrc
Of course, one reading of the monolith could be that it represents the movie screen. But the movie screen itself can represent anything: civilization and human intellectual activity… I’m sure that realizing that we live in a movie was a thought that struck chord with the audience of the late 60. But this is only one of possible readings. I somehow tended to think that the pseudo-renaissance world represents post-modernity: a world that actively but clinically re-uses cultural references to the past.
Probably the most definitive question is this: Do you think the star-child ending is a good ending?
@Frank, who are the two people? ))
I read the ending of 2001 as a bunch of conceptual weirdness for it’s own sake, with hints of the smallness of humanity. It’s kind of like the last episode of Twin Peaks. The Black Lodge sequence really doesn’t mean much of anything except for the emotions and themes in conjures, and neither does the ending of 2001.
This article makes a good argument for the theme of manipulated perception based on Hollywood, but a pretty weak argument that the monoliths are false and planted. There’s clearly a disconnect between reality and perception of reality, but that doesn’t mean it’s a false flag, it just means the seekers of truth care more about perception than truth.
If you read the book it’s perfectly clear, thematically sound, and jam packed with meaning.
After the film’s initial release Stanley Kubrick received a letter that precisely unpacked the film, including the ending, better than any journalist or critic had even attempted. It was from an eleven year old girl.
The answers are all there in the film itself, really. It’s not like we’re discussing “who sent the tapes?” in Cache.
EDIT: Oh, and I assume Frank’s “two people” were Kubrick and Clarke, but of course Clarke published the novel they wrote together so it’s there if you want to read it.
I assume Frank’s “two people” were Kubrick and Clarke
Arguably, the artist does not have to understand his work. Because he is not 11 years old.
It’s one woman’s opinion, but there was a nice article in Film Comment by academic Martha Nochimson which had a solid explanation of the last episode of Twin Peaks. She basically sam Cooper as a passive-detective who was able to enter the Black Lodge through dreams earlier in the series because his approach was gently feminine in nature, allowing the secrets to come to him on their own terms. When he approaches the Lodge in a more masculine, aggressive style in the last episode his powers fail him because aggression leads to madness there. She asserts that when Cooper meets the snarling Dwarf doppelganger and is given the warning “WRONG WAY,” the dwarf is not referring to the direction Cooper is taking but rather the approach. In a way, this would match up with the way one has to approach fighting with the sound suits in Lynch’s Dune, where the slow hand achieves more than the quick thrust.
Sure, you can insert a lot of meaning into those kinds of endings if you try hard, but academic overanalysis is by nature subjective analysis. And they’re both jam packed with symbolic meaning, but that’s also subjective. It’s ‘soft plotting’. It’s a mirror for your own brain.
And I’m sure Kubrick and Lynch had specific ideas in mind, but if you have to go out of your way to explain what those ideas are, those ideas aren’t what the film is about.
Given the prologue of 2001 the meaning of the ending of 2001 doesn’t require one to go out of their way.
No need to explain it logically, but on the emotional level do you like the star-child?
Interpretation, shmerpretation! It was all wine and roses until the Pink Floyd cut came along.
@Mike Spence and Jirin
Back to Mike Spence writing about my article about Twin Peaks. I enjoyed your comparison between Cooper’s “WRONG WAY approach” and the fighting strategies in Dune. Thanks, Mike! That really works for me. Just one thing, my article was in Film Quarterly, not Film Comment. (Jirin, you really know how to hurt a girl.)
Best not to try to “interpret” the film too much, ultimately you just have to feel it as an incredible visual and aural experience. Of course, I enjoy reading about various aspects and interpretations of all of Kubrick’s films, because they are all very intellectually rigorous, but with 2001, I just find it useless to try to talk about much, it just has to be experienced and “understood” on a visual and emotional level and that’s it.
Its funny how Kubrick has such a reputation as a cold and austere director, because I find 2001, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, and hell, even The Shining to be profoundly moving emotional experiences. They all, (especially Barry Lyndon) can bring the tears to my eyes.
Wow. That article was one of my favorites when Twin Peaks was my favorite thing on earth. Yes, of course it was Film Quarterly and it can also be found in the academic anthology Full of Secrets. Welcome to The Auteurs, Martha!
Believe it or not, but 2001 is the first film I clearly remember seeing as a child as well as being, possibly, my earliest clear memory overall. My parents went to see the film back when it came out or came to a second run theater, likely due to the publicity it was receiving, and they took me along. I was four or five at the time and I remember being incredibly sad when Hal was shut down, the Bicycle Built for Two song hit me hard, as well as feeling good that Dave managed to do it since he was a good guy. As far as I can recall, the feeling that would be closest to encapsulating my experience of the monoliths in general and the ending in particular would be awe. Awe in traditional sense of witnessing a power beyond ken, both destructive and creative like a god, although I obviously couldn’t parse it in those terms, so the ending to me was beyond consideration of good or bad, it merely was. I feared the room and the old Dave though, so perhaps there was some slight relief that he left them behind for the Star Child, but mostly, I was just too enthralled to feel a distinctness of emotion.
Who knows? It is such a vivid memory that maybe the experience made me the person I am today.
I should have sued Kubrick when I had the chance.
re: RT Rolston
“Its funny how Kubrick has such a reputation as a cold and austere director, because I find 2001, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, and hell, even The Shining to be profoundly moving emotional experiences.”
>>After the film’s initial release Stanley Kubrick received a letter that precisely unpacked the film, including the ending, better than any journalist or critic had even attempted. It was from an eleven year old girl.<<
I’ve always maintained that if you can’t understand the ending (or the rest) of 2001, you’re trying too hard.
re: the article
“To defy Hollywood seems to have been a recurring theme with Kubrick. There have been political commentaries interwoven symbolically into literally all of his films since 2001 (and some before), that most likely would have caused his Hollywood publishing companies to deny production if these commentaries were laid bare for all to see.”
—I agree here…
“(Coincidentally, a majority of these symbols were buried from widespread knowledge for 40 years from 1968-2008, while in the movie, the monolith was alleged to have been buried 40 feet below the lunar surface.) "
—…but I find this latter sentence particularly exemplary of the author’s over-zealously free associative strategy. Yes, both of those sentences you wrote have the word “buried” and the number “40” in them. No, that doesn’t mean Kubrick predicted your sentence structure while making 2001. It’s a fabricated coincidence.
This is the first instance in the article in which he directly acknowledges a connection he’s observed to be “coincidence”, and I wonder if he is aware of how coincidental many of his observations seem, and how spurious his data is, therefore. I’m not convinced by a lot of the smaller arguments herein, and that makes the larger arguments fall apart. However, I do get the feeling while watching his movies that Kubrick obsessively maximized instances of coincidence by regularly falling back on techniques of mirroring, symmetry, patterning, numbering…geometrically minded visual, spatial, and narrative constructions that actively invite and stimulate associative viewing more than most films. I’m just not still convinced those constructions point to a single correct interpretation of the director’s concrete intentions. His movies evoke incredibly imaginative and researched responses (such as this one…check out the mastermind article on THE SHINING, also at http://www.mstrmnd.com/log/802), but the obvious subjectivity of the resultant analyses always leave me colder than the purported coldness of Kubrick’s films ever has.
Also, when I began reading the article, I thought to myself, “Christ, this is the ZEITGEIST: THE MOVIE of 2001 analyses.” Turns out that was what the author is setting up:
“Homework: Can you name any modern monoliths? Hint: Was there an event that inspired shock and awe in 2001, which led to greater control by the elite by using it as an excuse to give up our rights, and to support the invasion of foreign countries? Have you done your own research into what really happened, rather than relying on the same media (Movie Screen) that is controlled by the same power elite?”
In case you couldn’t get down to the crash site in person to do “your own research” (I presume the author means, collect and analyze rubble or review countless video tapes that didn’t happen to catch the planes on screen), there’s always this:
I may have missed the part on this thread where Kubrick’s monolith was supposed to be a prediction of the Twin Towers attack in 2001, in a Nostradamus kind of prophecy. That’s one that’s hard to believe, in part because MANY (if not most) skyscrapers are shaped like rectangles, there are TWO Twin Towers and only ONE monolith, and the monolith is not attacked or destroyed in 2001. What kind of vague prophecy is that?
It’s almost easier to believe the Web site below about 9/11, which involves folding a $20 bill to create the images of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers ablaze:
After all, 9 + 11 = 20 (as in the twenty dollar bill). And, if you fold that bill a few more times, you get a paper airplane! :-)
Good God, Frank….9+11=20!
You’ve blown it wide open!
(I love that this money-folding trick has its own site…appropriately named, no less. Thanks)
To clarify, the prediction of 9/11 isn’t part of the thread, its part of the article…that middle paragraph is pulled from segment 3.1. There’s no direct definition of 2001 as a prediction for 9/11, but it does seem kind of implied given the article’s increasingly apparent bent. Perhaps that’s reading too much into the article, but then again, the article is itself an education in reading too much into stuff.
Yeah…I’ve officially decided this article is a bit off. If you’re going to warn people to be more wary about hidden agendas, don’t create an article founded on one. It reminds me of the BIBLE CODE whose abundance of predictions was quite stunning until information theorists pointed out that similar instances of purely coincidental hidden words and phrases could be found in any book of comparable size to the Bible, regardless of how sacred or profane the text was.
Can’t wait to read or watch Rob Ager’s analysis of 2001…I tend to find his stuff very interesting.
It’s a strictly formalist work. Visually it can still outclass much larger budgeted CGI extravaganzas.
… but meaning? The film looks gorgeous. And Kubrick kinda hates technology but presumably not the technology that made the filming possible (you listening, Cameron, you hack?).
Not to mention that the some of the tapirs’ eyes are glowing in early shots…so there goes THAT part of the argument as well. Unless they are the REAL secret, undercover elite. OF COURSE! THE TAPIRS REPRESENT THE SHADOW GOVERNMENT / THE SECOND BUSH ADMINISTRATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Further proof of Kubrick’s genius.
Well, i’m (99%) sure that 2001 is an allegory over Nietzsches philosophy (Abe Man – Modern man – Superman/übermensch). It’s a very tight and intellectual movie and it’s not open for speculation.
I would go as to say that, at least to me, 2001 represents something we cannot grasp, the unknown. The ending is better understood if one read’s the book but it still leaves some very interesting questions. If we knew everything how fun would it?
BEN, it’s not some Kantian epistemology about the frontiers of human knowledge. It’s centred on the fight between HAL (The creations of mankind, the apollonian culture, the community) and the human. With other words: its the conflict between man’s tool (the abeman becomes modern man when taking up the bone) and the individual human being – as Nietzsche would have said: the conflict between society and its individuals. According to Nietzsche man becomes superman when he is able to detach himself from society and create his own values. Due to this proces human beings advances to a new intellectual stage as (metaphorical) a child, given the fact that a child is pure (not influenced by society yet).
This happens when Bowman turns out to win the fight between man and it’s tool (HAL). Starchild ilustrates the free and pure mind beyond “time and space”, which is a metaphor for the laws and standards in our society. This is the ones Bowman breaks with – he isn’t anymore inhibited by time and space and does not need to travel with his spaceship (the society). He is free – there is nothing between him and his own nature (the universe), which human beings were seperated from in ancient time (the start of the movie) where abeman becomes modern man by using a tool.
There is a reason why “Also Sprach Zarathustra” is played when man goes from one step to another in the evolution of freedom: abeman → modern man → übermensch. Also Sprach Zarathustra is Nietzsches most famous work about the übermensch and the waltz of the same name made by Strauss is a musical interpretation of this book.
I didn’t read any of the theories on here but maybe someone had the same as me:
I notice most Kubrick films share the theme or idea that man destroys himself, although never for the same reason in his films.
And each episode seemed to me to focus on technology in some way (The bone with the monkeys being used as a weapon, HAL, etc). and this technology always led to disaster in each episode but not because of the tool itself, but because of man’s use of the tool. The idea of starting the film with a primitive man and then going on to a futuristic man who essential had the same problems was the point that man’s flaws are inherent in his species and not correctable through intelligent thought.
The star child represents the hope of a future evolution of man that will live on Earth and not have this flaw, but only after modern man has already destroyed himself. Although i never saw any mention of the A-Bomb in this film(Kubrick tackled it in Dr.Strangelove), i think this movie comes from that fear.
The film is ultimately about how man will destroy himself with technology.
Furthermore:Did the Illuminati Kill Stanley Kubrick Because of EYES WIDE SHUT!?!?!?!?!!?