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A little late... 2001: A Space O.... Questions (1 Viewer)

BertFalasco

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Sorry but my room has been under reconstruction for about amonth and a half and I finally sat down and watched this film (had some DVDs I got through the course of reconstruction and never watched them, I didn't want to hook everything up all ghetto and ruin the experience).

All I want to know is what is Stanley's message?

People die and they reincarnate? What is the enormous black bar? And, the ending, the baby?
.

Thanks

-Bert
 

Jack Briggs

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What is the enormous black bar?
There is more than one Black Monolith, each one serving a different, dedicated purpose. Essentially, the Monolith(s) is an alien artifact, the visitors' calling card, as it were. The first Monolith, seen here on Earth by our ancestors, was, basically, a "teaching machine." It ignited the spark of sentience in the proto-human tribe that first encountered the artifact. (Remember the jump cut as the lead man-ape plays with the tapir's bones? First we see him stopping for a moment and pondering the bones, and then Mr. Kubrick jump cuts for less than a second back to the magnificent shot of the Monolith and the Sun/Moon alignment. Intelligence is born!)

The second Monolith, excavated on the Moon, could be described as an "alarm clock." Our alien benefactors would not again be interested in us until we had demonstrated the ability to leave the home planet. Only then would humanity be ready for the next epoch in the evolutionary adventure. So, once exposed to the Sun after a four million-year-long wait, the Monolith triggers an alarm and directs a radio signal (for our benefit) toward the vicinity of Jupiter, where, eventually, Dave Bowman encounters ...

The third Monolith. Think of this one as a "porthole" or gateway into hyperspace. It propels Bowman on a journey through time and space to wherever it is the unseen aliens call "home."

And the final Monolith is the pivot point, overseeing Bowman's transmogrification from human to something more advanced, which is ...

The Starchild. The fetus at the end--spoiler bar not really necessary--is what was once David Bowman, but is now the vanguard of humankind's next level of development.

As such, the film is perhaps the most optimistic, uplifting, and inspiring appraisal of humanity's destiny ever filmed. A staggering, stunning accomplisment, and one of the greatest films ever made.
 

Luc D

Second Unit
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That's funny, I always thought the film was very pessimistic about humanity, like most of Kubrick's films. I saw Bowman's transformation as a failure, and so humanity is a failure as well, a mere child in the grand scheme of the universe doomed to watch and not participate. But then Jack's interpretation is just as valid. No wonder this is my favorite film.

Bert, this is a film you'll need to watch repeatedly in order to even begin to fully appreciate. I must have seen it twenty times by now and I still find new things I had never noticed before.
 

Jack Briggs

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Luc:

Co-writer Arthur C. Clarke himself said he cried with joy upon first screening the film. He and Mr. Kubrick both are on record that the film is very much an upbeat assessment of humanity's future. It's the style of the director--his alleged "icy coldness," but, in reality, his dispassionate way of telling his story that may seem downbeat. But he is being far, far from downbeat. The consensus is that 2001 is every bit as optimistic as Dr. Strangelove is pessimistic. There's no "interpretation" involved, really. The story posits that not only will humanity survive, but thrive. A good reference book would be Jerome Agel's long-out-of-print The Making of Kubrick's 2001. Another good one is Piers Bizony's 2001: Filming the Future.

JB
 

BertFalasco

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Did the people on the moon or wherever they encountered the "alarm clock" Monolith die? Are we supposed to know?
-Bert
Thank you most Jack, very in depth. :)
P.S.- Was the "alarm clock" Monolith put there for any one species to find it because you said (Jack)
Our alien benefactors would not again be interested in us until we had demonstrated the ability to leave the home planet.
. Meaning, the aliens put that there for, not just humans, but any species to find it and see the next step of "directions?"
 

Jack Briggs

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1) No, the scientists and Dr. Floyd did not die. In fact, it was because of the radio signal that the Discovery's mission became so secretive. Remember, it was Dr. Floyd who made the prerecorded briefing about the signal, which Bowman finally hears after disconnecting HAL's higher logic functions.

2) The lunar Monolith was intended by the aliens to be specifically for us. We were their "project," their "experiment." But would we be a successful experiment? The aliens felt we would be if we were to become advanced enough to achieve space travel. And that is why the second Monolith was buried beneath the lunar surface. The Moon, as logic would suggest, would be our first "target" away from Earth.

Hope this helps.

As Luc very correctly notes, more than one screening of this film will be necessary to uncover its many, many riches, nuances, and complexities. This film has perhaps the most complex plot of any major release from a major studio.
 

Holadem

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As such, the film is perhaps the most optimistic, uplifting, and inspiring appraisal of humanity's destiny ever filmed. A staggering, stunning accomplisment, and one of the greatest films ever made.
Great, now I have to go buy the fucking thing! :angry:
--
Holadem - have been holding up
 

Calvin Cullen

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Our alien benefactors would not again be interested in us until we had demonstrated the ability to leave the home planet.
I never saw any of these "aliens" in the film, nor do I feel they were directly implied. It is just as reasonable to interpet the BLACK STONE monoliths as quasi-religious artifacts -- after all, there is a clear Christian sub-text to Bowman's transformation. Or one can interpret the monoliths themselves, the "teaching machines", as our true "benefactors" (and HAL-9000 as an ironic graven image). Kubrick quite intentionally left the door open for many contradicting interpretations.

My own personal opinion is that the director felt that mankind was doomed to evolutionary stagnation as long as he was dependent on religions and, in particular, on science (a religion in and of itself). Of course, hoping some alien race will save us with their magic rocks, harmonic convergences and laser-light shows would be equally perilous. Humanity is the only hope for humanity, thus the "Star Child" returns to earth.
 

andrew markworthy

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It's perhaps worth elabourating on the Starchild. In the original script, the Starchild finished the movie by blowing up all the nuclear satellite bombs in orbit round the planet. 'What nuclear satellite bombs?' you may well ask. Well, near the start of the movie is one of the most famous jump cuts in cinema, where the bone thrown in the air by the ape suddenly changes to a satellite. Said satellite is supposed to be a bomb.

The destruction of the bombs was dropped because it was thought to be too reminiscent of the ending of Dr Strangelove (one of Kubrick's earlier films).

Incidentally, there were also plans to show the aliens at the end of the movie, but this was dropped fairly late in the day.
 

Sam Hatch

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I agree with Jack's assessment, but the last time I saw 2001 (finally on the big screen, but it didn't look any better than my laserdisc -- yes, yes, I need to get it on DVD still!) I was really struck by the progressing feel of cold inhumanity. I assume this is meant to be part of the process of our evolutional skin shedding, but it still gives me the creeps.
In the Dawn of Man segments, the humans are seen making physical contact -- babies are held tight to their parents. In the next step, humanity is progressing as a species, but they are no longer close to one another. Floyd is in space, forced to speak with his daughter over a vidphone. Unable to be there for her birthday and hand over a 'bush baby'.
In the next step, (some) humans are planets apart, and whereas Floyd was still emotionally connected with his daughter despite the physical distance, all such connections seem severed now. Poole's parents are even unable to speak with him in realtime for his birthday, and the psychotic/robotic look on his face freaks the hell out of me. In fact, the last time I saw it I thought 'This guy is one step away from frickin' Jeffrey Dahmer'. Luckily HAL dispatched him before he had time to eat his hibernating crewmates! :)
Don't get me wrong, I lurve 2001: A Space Odyssey. I did find that I enjoy it more at home than in the theater. As much heresy as that may sound, I find it to be more of a meditation than a group experience. I think it plays better in the comfort of your own home without other people complaining about the annoying sound effects (or lack thereof).
Uh oh... I'm disconnecting and becoming distant myself. *shakes fist at sky* Damn you Kubrick!!! :)
 

BertFalasco

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I'm reading the essay, wow. Lot of writing, nice.
Just a little sub question, is 2010: The Year We Make Contact done by Mr. Kubrick?
-Bert.. off to watch 13 Days...
 

RobertR

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is 2010: The Year We Make Contact done by Mr. Kubrick?
You've spoken the Briggs equivalent of blasphemy! :)
That film is always referred to as "the Peter Hyams thing" by Jack (he is loathe to even name it), meaning it has no connection with Kubrick.
 

RobertR

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Poole's parents are even unable to speak with him in realtime for his birthday, and the psychotic/robotic look on his face freaks the hell out of me.
Interesting. I interpret his look as one of cool intellectualism (certainly nothing even remotely resembling psychosis). From the moment we go into space in the film, I see humans making rational use of their ability to think. This contrasts with so much of what we have in filmaking today, where characters are motivated not by reason, but by emotion.
 

Michael*K

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So was Kubrick ever even mentioned when the role of director was discussed for 2010? I thought 2010 was an enjoyable film, though nowhere near the level of 2001. It also never provoked spirited debate and discussion like its predecessor does.

Not having read 2010, did it deviate a great deal from the book and what was Arthur C. Clarke's take on it?
 

RobertR

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It's my understanding that Kubrick did not like to repeat himself with movies. I think he viewed 2001as a complete statement, and nothing more on the subject needed to be said.
 

Luc D

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Jack, I have read the book and I am fully aware of Clarke's intentions (less so with Kubrick's), but like any other work of art 2001 is an open book and this is how I like to look at it. It may not be the most popular interpretation but it's the one that most satisfies me.
 

Jack Briggs

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Of course, hoping some alien race will save us with their magic rocks, harmonic convergences and laser-light shows would be equally perilous.
This is cinema. Mr. Kubrick was sailing into uncharted cinematic waters as he sought to convey the near unfathomable: a trip through hyperspace to the lair of an alien race so staggeringly advanced that it seems "godlike"--a theme directly borrowed from Arthur Clarke's oft-repeated observation that a technology sufficiently advanced would seem like magic to us.

Finally, the Black Monolith is not made of "stone." At the time of the Discovery's mission, scientists had no idea as to the artifact's composition.
 

Jack Briggs

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Sam posts:

Interesting. I interpret his look as one of cool intellectualism (certainly nothing even remotely resembling psychosis). From the moment we go into space in the film, I see humans making rational use of their ability to think. This contrasts with so much of what we have in filmaking today, where characters are motivated not by reason, but by emotion.
And to which I would add: The reason for the time delay in any sort of direct attempt to communicate with Mission Control or anyone else on Earth, the Discovery was nearing Jupiter. Radio waves/telemetry travel at the speed of light. There will be, depending on the distance between the communicating parties, an inevitable delay, upwards of several minutes. The longer the distance, the longer the communications lag.

As one would expect from a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, science prevails!
 

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