“It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology...”
July 6, 2018 8:50 AM   Subscribe

This May Be Stanley Kubrick Himself Explaining the End of 2001: A Space Odyssey [YouTube] “According to the YouTube channel that posted the video, the footage is from filmmaker Jun’ichi Yaoi. In 1980, he was making a documentary about paranormal experiences and chose to explore Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining through a set visit and interviews. The feature was never released but, reportedly, a VHS of the raw footage sold on eBay in 2016 and has now made its way online. It’s a full one-hour, 24-minute video [YouTube] which, at one point, features Yaoi speaking to Kubrick on the phone. That’s when he asks him about 2001, which is the clip [above].” [via: io9]
posted by Fizz (37 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Turns out Dave Bowman was a Replicant the whole time.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:54 AM on July 6 [4 favorites]


Transcript.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on July 6 [8 favorites]


It's not really that much different from Clarke's book ending, which isn't that surprising considering that both the book and film were conceived at the same time. And it mostly jibes with the critical analyses that I've seen over the years. So I guess I can count it as a relief to know that contrary to its reputation for impenetrability, Kubrick consciously designed this film to be basically intelligible, through careful viewing and contemplation.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:18 AM on July 6 [8 favorites]


Hmm. I still prefer the interpretation that old man Bowman represents humanity and the child represents our spacefaring AI progeny.
posted by rodlymight at 9:19 AM on July 6 [4 favorites]


From the article:

I always saw it as a metaphoric rebirth of humanity through another leap in technology, never a literal rebirth as a creature who returns to Earth.

Why not both?
posted by mr_roboto at 9:23 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Doesn't seem like there's much new here. He's pretty much just describing what we see on the screen.
posted by octothorpe at 9:28 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


If you are really looking for something new on 2001, I highly recommend the new book Space Odyssey by Michael Benson. You'll be surprised by how many people involved with the production were on heroin!
posted by vibrotronica at 9:36 AM on July 6 [5 favorites]


What you can't see in the video though is that on the other end of the phone, Stanley Kubrick is actually providing his interpretation as a dance... That's right... interpretive dance...
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:37 AM on July 6 [4 favorites]


I like the theory that the Monolith is a gourmand trying to get humans to eat a varied and sophisticated diet. Why does it intercede in the 21st century? Because it's sick of watching us drink rehydrated pea puree through straws. Pointedly, Dave can't be reborn until he sits down to an honest-to-god meal, complete with a buttered Parker House roll. (It's hard to source fresh butter in a timeless pocket dimension, but the Monolith's cousin has a raw milk hookup.)
posted by Iridic at 9:55 AM on July 6 [19 favorites]


I think you can only understand 2001 if you read ACC's book. Which lacks the poetry of Kubrick's film. It's a trade-off.

I must say that, besides Jaws (or the other Lucas and Spielberg films of the era), 2001 was the first "adult" movie I connected with
posted by JamesBay at 10:00 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


Doesn't seem like there's much new here. He's pretty much just describing what we see on the screen.

Yeah, this isn't new information. It more or less matches what happens at the end of the book and what Kubrick himself has explained in other interviews, as well as what happens in the movie.

2001 is only difficult to understand because most of the narrative is conveyed visually, in contrast to most other films, where vital information is always communicated through dialog, like a radio play. Audiences are more used to following the story through the dialog while treating the visuals as supplementary.

For example, no one ever talks about "aliens" in the movie; the viewer is expected to deduce that a smooth, black, geometric figure in the time and places where it appears could only have been created by an alien intelligence. Then you're expected to make the connection that, since the apes started using tools when the monolith appeared, that the aliens must be guiding the evolution of human intelligence.
posted by zixyer at 10:04 AM on July 6 [8 favorites]



This May Be Stanley Kubrick Himself Explaining the End of 2001:

on the other hand, it may not be.

I think you can only understand 2001 if you read ACC's book. Which lacks the poetry of Kubrick's film.

I wonder how stripping something of its poetry aids understanding. I suppose it may strip things down to raw basics, but that feels to me like examining an skeleton in order to understand the human ...
posted by philip-random at 10:06 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I have not listened to this year, but I have listened to just one shy of nine billion explanations for the ending. Let me listen now.

My god. Overhead, without any fuss, the stars are going out.
posted by maxsparber at 10:10 AM on July 6 [13 favorites]


This is all well and good, but if you really want to mess with a Kubrick fan, you must insist to them that 2001 is a meditation on fame and celebrity written in consultation with the Eagles, and that the meaning of its ending is most clearly expressed in "Hotel California."

You must continue to press your case in spite of all evidence to the country. For example, if your interlocutor points out that the movie predates the formation of the Eagles, dismiss their concerns by saying, "The song had to be written."
posted by compartment at 10:17 AM on July 6 [12 favorites]


Watching my teenage daughter watching 2001 for the first time when she was expecting something like a grandpa version of Apollo 13 or Europa Report was a lot of fun.
posted by straight at 10:19 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Compartment, please download the youtube video and create a new version with your theory.
posted by condour75 at 10:22 AM on July 6 [4 favorites]


but if you really want to mess with a Kubrick fan, you must insist to them that 2001 is a meditation on fame and celebrity written in consultation with the Eagles,

I'm personally partial to the notion that the real sequel to 2001 was not 2010: The Year We Make Contact but Terence Malick's Tree of Life. It's mostly set in Texas in the 1950s, you say, there's no space travel, no evidence of aliens or monoliths, not a single computer (except maybe in Sean Penn's office). I say watch it, and then let's talk. And if you've already seen it, watch it again.
posted by philip-random at 10:31 AM on July 6 [5 favorites]



It's not really that much different from Clarke's book ending, which isn't that surprising considering that both the book and film were conceived at the same time


I was always given to understand that the two - book and film - were meant to go together; that you they were designed in that way, so that the book might fill in some of the gaps of the film or vice versa. I know that once I read the book, the movie became far more accessible.

The book is also has some strong themes about the militarization of space and IIRC the ending of the book strongly implied that the Star Child returned to Earth to start removing orbital defense platforms. Basically, there seemed to be a point being made about how our use of tools always moving towards weaponry was not a sustainable path in terms of continued evolution of the species.
posted by nubs at 10:49 AM on July 6 [4 favorites]


I still prefer the interpretation that old man Bowman represents humanity and the child represents our spacefaring AI progeny.

Well, "representation" and "presentation" are two different things. What the story presents is Bowman evolving into the StarChild, a new form of being and the next stage in human evolution. That's what happens in the story.

What that "represents" -- what it means to you outside of what happens in the literal narrative -- is a different question. There's always the desire to make a text mean something other than what it says: Hamlet represents man's uncertainty, the monolith represents the unknown, Batman is an allegory for George W. Bush, whatever. The more I've studied and written about artistic texts, though, the more I'm convinced that trying to translate the text into some different coded message is the wrong, or rather, the less productive path than reading the text itself and creating meaning from the story that's told and how it's told.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:23 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


What the story presents is Bowman evolving into the StarChild, a new form of being and the next stage in human evolution. That's what happens in the story.

It goes Bowman on deathbed, cut to monolith, Spacebaby in Bowman’s place. I’m not seeing evolution on the screen.
posted by rodlymight at 11:48 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


Saw it again this weekend because the local indie cinema had it in 70mm for the 50th anniversary. It amazes me how well it still holds up. For as long as it may take for one to process that ending, it’s still a damned visual masterpiece.
posted by azpenguin at 11:56 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I wonder how stripping something of its poetry aids understanding. I suppose it may strip things down to raw basics, but that feels to me like examining an skeleton in order to understand the human ...

In terms of relying on ACC's hard-science fiction book versus Kubrick's more poetic movie, I'm the kind of person who looks up spoilers. I sometimes start reading books in the middle and, when I get to the end, I then start reading the book.

I am probably an unimaginative person, lol.
posted by JamesBay at 12:13 PM on July 6 [5 favorites]


It's also satisfying to figure out what the hell is going on. A great example of this is Priscilla Page's review (moreo of an essay) on Annihilation.
posted by JamesBay at 12:19 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Remember reading that the book and the movie were essentially worked on together simultaneously. The book was intentionally published just prior to the film to avoid the stigma of it being a novelization of the film.
posted by sammyo at 12:26 PM on July 6


As I recall, in the book the mission is headed towards Saturn and the moon of Iapetus. Lost Worlds of 2001 has some even cooler details.

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s and early 80s, my uncle had left behind a copy of The Making of Kubrick's 2001 by Jerome Agel in my grandparents' house. It has all sorts of cool shit in it. A great book that's out of print, although I may have my uncle's copy someplace in my house now.

People have been trying to pick apart the meaning of that movie for a long, long time.
posted by JamesBay at 1:17 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


My girlfriend and I just went and saw it at Hollywood Theater in 70mm, which was beautiful. I never put too much stock in many of the theories and basically took the movie at face value, since I don't totally understand the symbolism of the ending, or the monolith, but I love that food theory that Iridic posted above!
posted by gucci mane at 1:26 PM on July 6


As much as I love 2001, I've always kind of hated Clarke's novel version and the sequels even more. He just couldn't help himself in over-explaining things that didn't need to be explained.
posted by octothorpe at 1:56 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, 2010: Odyssey 2 is not really the same species as the film 2001. I did enjoy reading 2010 as a kid though
posted by JamesBay at 2:02 PM on July 6


It goes Bowman on deathbed, cut to monolith, Spacebaby in Bowman’s place. I’m not seeing evolution on the screen.

It also goes "Ape-man throws bone in the sky, cut to satellites orbiting earth." Since we didn't see the millions of years of evolution and development in between, I'm going to assume it didn't happen and the world just suddenly transformed.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:15 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I think one of the most notable details in the book that isn't in the movie is how the monolith inspired the proto-hominids to dreams and trance states of a more advanced existence, where they didn't worry about food all the time and explored their bodies and surroundings more. The movie doesn't really depict their inner process, only them seeing it suddenly and going apeshit. It's still easily inferred that the monolith was put there for them to question things, but spelling it out that it actually interacted with them psychically is taking it a lot further.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:33 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


The movie doesn't really depict their inner process, only them seeing it suddenly and going apeshit.

When the main ape starts playing with the bones and realizes that smashing one against another can cause damage, there are various shots of animals falling as they are killed. This, I would argue, depicts his inner state of mind: not only does he make a connection between his action (using the bone) affecting the external world (smashing the other bones), he is also able to imagine things, to visualize himself in other situations, extrapolate from something he's done to something he could do. Their entry into tool use is also their entry into time, in a sense, into a temporality that extends beyond their immediate experience. This is the transition into the human life cycle out of the animal life cycle, which is what we see Bowman re-experience at the end of the film. Of course, the human life cycle, even though it encompasses a broader temporal sensibility than that of animals, it is still largely defined by the exigencies of survival: food, water, basic resources. The first war is a war over resources (the ape men battling over the oasis), and this smash-cuts to 2001, when humanity is still largely defined by their use of tools (satellites/orbiting nuclear weapons) in the contest over resources -- hence the constant shots of people eating. When Bowman enters the monolith and is transported to the Room, we see him experiencing the entirety of his life in an instant, as it were. He can "see" himself at different ages; he's transitioning out of the human sense of time -- which is sequential -- into a higher order of being and perception that can "see" in 4-dimensions. Of course, we the audience are still human, so we can only witness this taking place in sequential time, so it appears to unfold over time before us. Just as the Apes became Humans, the Human down becomes the Starchild, but this is a more thoroughgoing transformation, a cut or a potential new beginning, hence the cycle of life circling from old age & death into a new infancy (as opposed to the continuity of violence between apes & humanity implied by the smash cut at the beginning of the film).
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:56 PM on July 6 [10 favorites]


2010: Odyssey 2 is not really the same species as the film 2001

I grew up idolizing Clarke and no, he should never, ever have done sequels, or worse, endured the sort of elder abuse that must have been involved in his name being attached to those Gentry Lee atrocities.
posted by sonascope at 5:19 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I was in Colombo for a week last December and *almost* made it to Clarke's old house there. I tracked down what was supposed to be the email of the caretaker, but sadly it bounced. I checked out the area around Gangaramaya Temple instead.
posted by JamesBay at 10:02 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Then you're expected to make the connection that, since the apes started using tools when the monolith appeared, that the aliens must be guiding the evolution of human intelligence.

Woah.
posted by petebest at 12:27 PM on July 7


When the main ape starts playing with the bones and realizes that smashing one against another can cause damage, there are various shots of animals falling as they are killed.

It's notable that the "Apes usie tools to kill" scene came during the height of the now obscure killer ape theory in physical anthropology. The idea was that as we transitioned from frest to savanna, our hominid ancestors were primarily hunters- tool use made them better killers, and the more intelligent, the better at killing. The whole ape scene is referring to that theory.

By the mid 80s, that theory had fallen out of favor. My Physical Anthropology teacher in fact, ridiculed that theory using the movie. Australopithecus was about 3'7" tall, and weighed about 65 pounds. And the theory (and movie) said that this small creature would stroll up to a leopard, and smack it with a bone. And somehow survive. his conclusion? "In a word: bullshit."

More modern theories posit that Australopithecus was primarily a scavenger and gatherer. And given that Bonobos seen to be our closest relatives, making war probably wasn't their main obsession. Which would have made for a very different 2001.
posted by happyroach at 12:29 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


In terms of relying on ACC's hard-science fiction book versus Kubrick's more poetic movie, I'm the kind of person who looks up spoilers. I sometimes start reading books in the middle and, when I get to the end, I then start reading the book.

I am probably an unimaginative person, lol.


You're not alone. I don't have the time and energy to read a story that's going to make me feel like I wasted the investment of time and energy it took to read it. The best way to persuade me to read/watch something is to show me bits from the middle that I like.

And given that Bonobos seen to be our closest relatives, making war probably wasn't their main obsession. Which would have made for a very different 2001.

It would have been equally sexist, surely. Otherwise I'd totally watch that.
posted by dialMforMara at 10:27 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Also, I like this alternative interpretation of what the Monolith was.
posted by happyroach at 3:05 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


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