2001: A Flash Odyssey
July 28, 2005 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Kubrick 2001: The space odyssey explained. Finally: all that monolith nonsense explained in big, bright Flash.
posted by ford and the prefects (55 comments total)
posted by gubo at 10:26 PM on July 28, 2005

posted by vagus at 10:34 PM on July 28, 2005

ah! good post for me though. I really enjoyed the part about how men who rule earth are like children in space. I still didn't completely get the whole 4th dimention thing except for it's symbolism. Which I guess is what it mainly is anyway.
posted by freudianslipper at 10:37 PM on July 28, 2005

The fundamental mistake behind this and like-minded analyses is the assumption that the director has a complete, crystalline structure for the narrative a priori, and that he then proceeds to align every tiny detail toward realizing this structure. This is rarely the case in literature*, and almost never the case in film, where visual sumptuousness is so important. I think we can best understand 2001 as a kind of subjective, visual movement through the text of the book: Kubrick is constantly playing, inventing, taking turns. Certainly, Kubrick had a certain vision that informs his work, but to suppose that all details constitute a visual riddle that is solved like an algebraic equation with one unknown is shallow.

* Dante's Divine Comedy is the only example that comes to my mind.
posted by ori at 10:38 PM on July 28, 2005

Kubrick is best explained by the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from Aqua Teen Hunger force:

Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of man as we knew him, there was Sir Santa of Claus, an ape-like creature making crude and pointless toys out of dino bones and his own waste, hurling them at chimp like creatures with crinkled hands, regardless of how they behaved the previous year. These so-called toys were buried as witches, and defecated upon, and hurled at predators who were awoken by the searing grunts of children. It wasn't a holly-jolly christmas that year, many were killed...
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:50 PM on July 28, 2005

A good interpretation of "2001", and very well done.

Nice link.
posted by caddis at 10:57 PM on July 28, 2005

Not really sure what ori is getting at here. It seems that you're objecting to the very attempt to posit an interpretation of a work because it is subjective. Sure, this is fairly superficial, but it has some decent ideas and is coherent, succinct, and supportable, the very definition of a good interpretation. Despite the fact that it says that it "explains" 2001, it's clearly just an attempt to understand how it all fits together. It certainly doesn't replace or preclude any other, more complex interpretations. Just because 2001 is "subjective" doesn't mean one can't or shouldn't attempt to figure out what it "means."
posted by papakwanz at 11:04 PM on July 28, 2005

Meh. They used Arial instead of Futura.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:05 PM on July 28, 2005

papakwanz: "Not really sure what ori is getting at here..."

Actually, I mostly agree with you. The things I object to in this interpretation are (a) its self-presentation as the secret to unlocking the ultimate meaning of 2001, and (b) the way it hammers complex three-dimensional figures of meaning into too-perfect square holes for the sake of sustaining the illusion of (a).
posted by ori at 11:22 PM on July 28, 2005

If ori is 'objecting to the attempt to posit an interpretation' of 2001, i enthusiastically join him. But i don't think that's what this animation does. It is a piece of comedy, pure and simple. I mean, i totally cracked up when the "Starchild" popped up and the upbeat music kicked in. And what other explanation could there be for a throbbing gristle lead-in?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:25 PM on July 28, 2005

What an umitigated piece of garbage. A few short paragraphs would have done the work of this butt ugly (save for the first space sequence) and fucking interminable animation. "The Starchild is born." Thanks a lot, Einstein. I actually want to hit the people responsible for this.
posted by nanojath at 11:40 PM on July 28, 2005

Metafilter: Do not hit the monolith.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:53 PM on July 28, 2005

Metafilter: Do not take the room too literally....imagine it's in the fourth dimension.
posted by ori at 12:03 AM on July 29, 2005

Metafilter: Starchild of the internets.
posted by NewBornHippy at 12:16 AM on July 29, 2005

What I think this misses is that HAL isn't evil in any way. He is given conflicting orders, to keep the mission secret and to keep the crew alive, and acts rationally based on the more important objective when the two come into conflict. The fact that he is not malfunctioning is part of what makes the whole 'technology is escaping our control" point convincing.
posted by sindark at 12:46 AM on July 29, 2005

Yes, too long. Perhaps it was imitating 2001's slow pace. But in 2001, the slow pace helps viewers meditate and imagine meanings. This flash, on the other hand, is so literal and lacks the symbolic depth of 2001, that the slow pace is a bore.

The flash is an interesting take on the film's meaning though. Sure it's not the complete story, but it does help decipher some bits. And no, there isn't one single meaning to decipher, which is part of the beauty of 2001.
posted by philosophistry at 12:57 AM on July 29, 2005

I've always hated that daft, ugly 'explanation'. 2001 is at least as much about cinematography and mood as it is about any meaning or plot. Kubrick deliberately stripped away detail, leaving something designed to make an impact without needing to explain why.

It has its flaws, but for me it's undoubtedly the most beautiful, awe-inspiring film ever made, and the only one Kubrick made that fully suited his skills and limitations. Is anyone else even trying to produce work on the same epic scale nowadays?

(I once got asked to produce a Flash intro for a used car dealership. I hated intros, and so took the piss somewhat and produced a sequence featuring a silhouetted monolith that, as the music reached its crescendo, was lit up to reveal the company logo and a message about buying a car before 2001. They loved it...)
posted by malevolent at 1:05 AM on July 29, 2005

I liked the part where that alien burst out of John Hurt's chest! That was really cool!
posted by ZachsMind at 1:32 AM on July 29, 2005

That was ET, moron.
posted by shoos at 2:13 AM on July 29, 2005

Nano: Take a fucking valium.
posted by nyxxxx at 4:03 AM on July 29, 2005

and it's shoos for the win (with an assist from ZachsMind).
posted by bashos_frog at 4:28 AM on July 29, 2005

Imagine it’s somewhere in the fourth dimension

Ok, major pet peeve right there. Discredits the whole thing.
posted by signal at 5:14 AM on July 29, 2005

Hal? …
posted by gubo at 10:26 PM PST on July 28 [!]

posted by hal9k at 6:00 AM on July 29, 2005

1. I kind of knew the point with the whole bone/spaceship thing.
2. This video helped me understand it a little better.
3. It didn't have to be an A. O. Scott "Guide to 2001."

posted by NickDouglas at 6:07 AM on July 29, 2005

I watched the whole thing and I still don't understand how Toynbee's Idea in Kubrick's 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.
posted by eatitlive at 6:22 AM on July 29, 2005

sindark makes a very important point: any explanation of perceived symbolism in regard to the whole HAL9000 situation should at least be accompanied by the completely obvious, rational explanation that the movie gives as HAL dies and displays his secret mission information. Maybe this didn't fit with the whole "our machines!! nooo!!1" thing, but it certainly isn't "hidden meaning."
posted by odinsdream at 6:32 AM on July 29, 2005

I'm siding with nanojath on this one. At this length it should have covered several Kubrick movies. (wishing it was a little more like this post)
posted by Hanover Phist at 6:55 AM on July 29, 2005

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
posted by loquacious at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2005

You know, folks could just read the book.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:26 AM on July 29, 2005

You know, folks could just read the book.

You're talking crazy talk!
posted by ori at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2005

You know, folks could just read the book.

Wait, are there differences between books and films? I'm confused. I'm going to go read the Peter Greenaway Cliff's Notes.
posted by gramschmidt at 8:02 AM on July 29, 2005

Yes, but the book is Arthur C. Clarke's vision of the story, which Kubrick ran with and... hid behind one of the moons of Saturn (or was that Jupiter?)

Or get the "2010" DVD - that explains... come to think of it, it doesn't even explain what Dick, the High Commander is doing hanging out with human astronauts...

And, odinsdream, does it ALWAYS have to be "programmer error"? Can't we blame the bleeping machines at least once in a while.
posted by wendell at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2005

Yes, but the book is Arthur C. Clarke's vision of the story, which Kubrick ran with and... hid behind one of the moons of Saturn

Not exactly. Clarke and Kubrick developed the screenplay and book together based on Clarke's 1948 story The Sentinel.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:30 AM on July 29, 2005

Please, would someone summarize in 4 easy sentences what the flash was about for those of us weak of will and short on time to watch it all?
posted by Laotic at 9:09 AM on July 29, 2005

man, i love the part at the end when they block the doors with the cross and then jump on the bus full of old people!
posted by Satapher at 9:12 AM on July 29, 2005

This thing sucked the first two times it was posted, and it just gets worse with age. Won't someone please make it die?

Also, what signal said.
posted by dilettanti at 9:33 AM on July 29, 2005

God, Laotic, well you better keep away from profound movies like 2001 or like Mysterious Skin. Stick to skin flicks and Stephen Segall.

OK, four sentences: Some dorky people had an idea: "Wouldn't it be great if everyone understood 2001 as perfectly as we do when we get stoned?" So, while still stoned (over the course of several weeks, it looks like), they illustrated their flaky, new-age interpretation of 2001 with a crappy Flash movie. The movie took a big happy poopie all over 2001. But it was a tribute.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2005

I liked the flash but I prefer this interpretation of 2001. (Start reading at "The classic science-ficiontal..." up until "... replaced by their AIs".)

In short, Hal did not make a mistake. He deliberately wrecked the antenna and killed his crew so they could not interfere with Hal's goal of meeting the monoliths.

The "4th dimension" and "body and wine" described in the flash movie is more elegantly described as the alien AIs simply taking care of the unfortunate human in a "cosmic Hilton" where he is allowed to live until he dies.

FWIW: Here's some music which samples Hal. By SIANspheric
Album: Else. Track 1: "Planet Hal".
Try listening here.
posted by ecco at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2005

Alchemical Kubrick
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:18 AM on July 29, 2005

Your Eyes Wide Shut (this one's not as easy to follow)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:20 AM on July 29, 2005

Anywho, this kind of thing is much better explained with bunnies.
posted by signal at 11:11 AM on July 29, 2005

sonofsamiam, I'd never seen that. Thanks.
posted by gramschmidt at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2005

I learned more about 2001: A Space Odyssey (my favorite movie, by the way) by watching the one minute long Lego version than anything else.
posted by zsazsa at 12:54 PM on July 29, 2005

gorgor_balabala: "you better keep away from profound movies like 2001 or like Mysterious Skin"

No need to heat up like that gorgor. I did not ask for an interpretation of 2001 (which is hardly needed), but for a sum-up of the flash 'interpretation'. Thanks for the explanation anyway.
posted by Laotic at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2005

I watched the whole thing and I still don't understand how Toynbee's Idea in Kubrick's 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.

Dave and the monkeys are part of the same civilization. Monkeys are chased off the puddle-oasis, win it back, kill monkey. Dave is chased off the Discovery-oasis, wins it back, kills Hal. Dave does this because Toynbee's Idea extends a creative minority's victory to the rest of their civilization. Because the monkeys touched the monolith, Dave knows how to win back an oasis with tools. Dave is challenged by death, seeks out the monolith. Therefore he is a creative minority. Therefore whan Dave changes, the dead are ressurected and all members of the Dave-monkey civilization are integrated into the Space Baby.
posted by queen zixi at 5:29 PM on July 29, 2005

Nice interpretation overall, but... like with Signal, the "fourth dimension" thing bugged me.
posted by May Kasahara at 5:56 PM on July 29, 2005

sonofsamiam can you give me a hint as to how "Revelations" ties into Eyes Wide Shut and where they are getting those color meanings from?
posted by 517 at 6:17 PM on July 29, 2005

I had the exact same reaction as nanojeth. For some reason it made me really angry. It went on too long, they acted like their interpretation was the only true one, and then they had that condescending self-satisfied "Get it now, Earthling?" part near the end.

So Kubrick lost control of his advanced tool -- the motion picture-- before he faced death. That would be Eyes Wide Shut, I suppose.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:19 PM on July 29, 2005

And you can't just disregard the monolith! "Oh, nevermind the monolith." Feh.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:20 PM on July 29, 2005

Jeez. Everybody hates this thing. Sure, it is a Cliff's Notes treatment set to flash, but so what? It isn't like the movie is much deeper than that. It's decent sci-fi with awesome cinematography and a whole boatload of pretension. I think this little flash thingy captured all of that quite nicely.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on July 29, 2005

if you make anything unique youre a pretentious fuck... why do you hate america?
posted by Satapher at 8:49 PM on July 29, 2005

Stanley Kubrick himself: "Margaret Stackhouse's speculations on the film are perhaps the most intelligent that I've read anywhere, and I am, of course, including all the reviews and the articles that have appeared on the film and the many hundreds of letters that I have received. What a first-rate intelligence!"

It's rare to see Kubrick this effusive. More interesting still is that Stackhouse wrote her reflections when she was only 15 years old.
posted by New Frontier at 9:20 PM on July 29, 2005

I noticed that Stackhouse tosses out multiple theories for single events as well-- certainly a good idea. All the other interpretations I've ever read of 2001 settle on only one explanation per event.
posted by May Kasahara at 6:20 AM on July 30, 2005

517: no, I'm not sure myself.

The Stackhouse link is great.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:52 AM on July 30, 2005

ooh, Laotic, i am sorry. Really. I totally thought you were joking, and i riffed on it. Sorry. Promise. :)

second the stackhouse -- youth power
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2005

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