Issue No. 2001: A Space Oddity.
This has EVERYTHING. A caveman ready to fight a sabre toothed tiger, planets and exploding stars, an astronaut, a monolith, a weird space monument, and yes…tentacles that are coming from some unknown source. I don’t know what that astronaut thinks he’s going to do to help here. I mean…he needs a space suit to survive on the surface of that moon, and Cap has Silver Age Alien American Powers. Is he going to say something to those space tentacles? Harshly rebuke them?
For post number 2001, I wanted hard to understand science fiction nonsense, like the film version of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In researching the film for the post, I found out (new information to me) that the film and the novel were developed concurrently. Huh. Interesting.
So…if you have no idea about the film, I’ll do a brief history lesson. The screenplay was written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”. The film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution, deals with themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life. The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of spaceflight, pioneering special effects, and really @#$%ing ambiguous imagery. Sound and dialogue are used sparingly and often in place of traditional cinematic and narrative techniques, and the film is famous for employing a number of pieces of classical music, among them Also sprach Zarathustra. So…there you go.
The end of it is…pretty abstract, and hard to understand.
Today, “2001: A Space Odyssey” is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. That doesn’t make it any easier to get the creators’ point, despite how visually interesting it is even if you don’t “get it.”
What’s the part that’s hard to understand? Good question. Then end of the film…and I am skipping a whole lot here, is at the planet Jupiter, where Bowman (Dave Bowman, an astronaut) leaves Discovery One in an EVA pod to investigate a monolith discovered in orbit there. The pod is pulled into a vortex of colored light, the Star Gate, and Bowman races across vast distances of space, viewing bizarre cosmological phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colors.
Then, Bowman finds himself in a bedroom appointed in the French neoclassical style. He sees, and then becomes, older versions of himself, first standing in the bedroom, middle-aged and still in his spacesuit, then dressed in leisure attire and eating dinner, and finally as an old man lying in the bed. A monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a fetus enclosed in a transparent orb of light, The Star Child. The new being floats in space beside the Earth, gazing at it.
Right? What’s that all about?
Apparently, Stanley Kubrick told us what this was all about, ages ago. As I was researching the content for the post, I came upon something posted at BoingBoing.net, TODAY, addressing that very point. Thank you BoingBoing.net, and the internet in general.
Eyes on Cinema (then quoted by BoinBoing.net) posted a newly discovered 1980 interview with Stanley Kubrick in which he explains the ending of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Here’s what he told journalist Junichi Yaoi:
“The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.
They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what they think is their natural environment.
Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made some kind of superman. We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.”
There you go. Space Zoo, followed by mega-evolution. Case closed.
Obviously, the post’s title is a reference to the David Bowie song, because David Bowie is simply fantastic.