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The Symbology of 2001, a space idiocy.

  1. Apr 10, 2003 #1
    Err, I mean Odyssey, haha.

    Did anyone ever see this movie and wonder what it was all about?
    Would you like to share your take on it?
    ...I'll tell you mine if you tell me yourn...shhhh
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2003 #2
    Ummm...alienation and de-sexualization of humanity due to technology?
  4. Apr 13, 2003 #3


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    Hmm... I know it's supposedly a classic and all
    but - boredom ? :wink:
  5. Apr 13, 2003 #4


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    ETs visit Earth in our far past.

    They find our early human anscestors on the brink of intelligence but struggling for survival, so they give us "push" in the right direction. (Via the monolith as a "teaching Machine"

    They then leave, but not before leaving some "Artifacts" behind. One is buried on the Moon.

    We dig it up. Upon being exposed to sunlight, it sents out a strong signal towards the second artifact orbiting Jupiter. (The first Artifact acts as a type of Test. If the man-apes ever developed intelligence, crossed space to the moon and dug it up, It would signal the race that left it that the experiment had succeeded and this race was ready for the next step.

    The second artifact is a Stargate.(Part of a intergalactic transport system. Once re-awakened by the Beacon. It waits until we approach it . Our one surviving Astronaut enters its and is transported through space to meet the ETs. Of course such a race is so far beyond ours that interaction between them and are astronaut appears as a sequence of surreal scenes and sequence of events. (Maybe Bowman spents his whole life there while the ET learns about us. ) Finally Bowman is transformed into a new being, (Our next step of evolution) and sent back to Earth to start the next stage.

    The movie also has many parallels to Homer's Odyssey built in. Hal as the cyclops which is "blinded" in order to be defeated. Only one of the crew survives. Odyseus ages to an old man , and is rejuvenated before being sent home etc.
  6. Apr 14, 2003 #5
    Interesting interpretation and I enjoyed reading it.
    My take on this movie is quite a bit different and will likely be somewhat lengthy (may take two or three posts, I'm not for certain).

    I would agee that the movie was no doubt boring to a great many people, but according to the interpretation I will put forth this is because the movie was meant to speak only to a relative few.

    The way technology has advanced I can certainly understand where you may be coming from here.

    I hope some more members will post before I begin, and for those who have never seen the movie it might be worth checking it out.... or not.
  7. Apr 14, 2003 #6


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    Would it be cheating since I happen to have a biography of A C Clarke himself at hand?
  8. Apr 14, 2003 #7
    Haha, absolutely not, I would very much enjoy reading it.
  9. Apr 14, 2003 #8


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    The primary motivation of 2001.. (and the film and book were done at the same time, which is quite unusual for this kind of thing) was to create a "new" sci fi film. Kubrick was big on controversy, having just made Dr Strangelove and did not think much of the previous school of films. Think B movies, men in suits, lil' UFOs... The idea was to acheive a new aesthetic. Ie. Kubrick was not so much film maker but artist - getting people to like the film was co-incidental to his aims. Alot of the things we may find boring were quite revolutionary. For example, no one had previously thought of using classical music in sci-fi.

    The idea came from the Sentinel, an early short story of Clarke's.

    The Philosophy of the film was to question:
    (a) The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.
    (b) The impact such a discovery would have on earth.
    (c) Man's place in the universe, from a scientific view. (rather than religious)

    Kubrick's primary aims was to invoke Wonder, Awe, and maybe Terror. (Kinda like a certain US military campaign ). Presumeably confusion came into it and the idea was a kind of myth in space. Certainly make the audience feel utterly insignificant was acheived... Clarke's concerns was to push the idea of UFOs from overoccupying most film sci-fi.

    Part of the ending came from none other than Carl Sagan. Compare Contact, perhaps, to see some vague influences. Or not.
    And yes, the final thing was a Star Gate. And the film explicitly decided NOT to show the aliens.

    The Star-Child transformation is about Bowman's ascendency to the state of a cosmic consciousness. The baby represents his emerging nature. This continues in the other books...

    The film is meant to work on two levels... The viseral and emotional, and the philosophical.

    "If anyone understands it on the first viewing, we've failed in our intention" Arthur C Clarke
    "... because we were dealing with the mystery of the universe, and with powers and forces greater than man's comprehension, then by definition they could not be totally understandable."

    "Read the book, see the film and repeat the dose as often as neccessary."
  10. Apr 14, 2003 #9
    Revelation 12:1-2

    From the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=354" ...

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  11. Apr 17, 2003 #10
    What are you doing Boulderhead? (Read with a creepy computer voice.) :smile:

    The beginning of the movie is a little slow, but the makeup/costume effects are amazing. I like Mel Brook's spoof of this in, "History of the World: Part One."

    The movie is, as FZ+ said, a work of art.
  12. Apr 17, 2003 #11
    you know that always confused me

    thanks for clearing that up. mabey i should pick up a book on that too it sounds interesting
  13. Apr 26, 2003 #12
    The whole setup by Kubrick was that everyone who experience's the film should 'add their own dialogue'. My own own interperetation of the opening 20 minutes was, the 'dawn of thought', a bit obvious I know, but the interaction of the Monolith was to instigate emotion and inspire 'thinking'.

    I have just found this actual script that some genius placed on the web!


    I rate the film as one of the most thought provoking cinema experience, which it turns out what Kubrick intended!
  14. Apr 26, 2003 #13
    Yes, the dawn of thought is a big part of it. I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to post my interpretation of the movie. I will watch it once again (perhaps tonight) to refresh my memory on the finer details and try to get on with what I promised to do shortly thereafter.
  15. Apr 27, 2003 #14
    I’ll split it this into parts so that I don’t have to work so hard at it.
    Now it is time for an esoteric interpretation (note that I italicize the word ‘an’)…grab your popcorn, a soda, and pull up a chair. Virtually everything in that movie was symbolic of something else. The next time you watch it pay attention to the symbology and imagery that you are shown
    At the start of the movie you saw a world which was dark and lifeless. As the Earth moves down the moon appears, and then the sun. As the movement progresses there is a partial eclipse that takes place and those who know something about Egyptian tales will recognize the form of the boat of Isis. As the sun rises on top of the crescent it becomes Osiris. Together they symbolize Osiris riding across the heavens upon the boat of Isis. This is to signify creation, both of the universe and the world. Osiris also represents the triumph of life over death and note what this triumph is going to bring forth upon the lifeless, barren planet that is shown in the next few scenes…

    As the light of day begins to emerge you hear the noise of primitive life (insects) and witness a barren plain, rocks, desert, with essentially nothing growing on it. The sun continues to rise in the east above the horizon and this is meant to signify the birth of the world. Next, the wind begins to blow as the sun continues on its journey. The significance of the wind is to tell you that something was/is happening. Sure enough, in the next scene you see that small green plants make their appearance, and following that another scene shows the development of trees. Don’t overlook that you are being shown rock formations which bear a resemblance to the male reproductive organ, complete with testicles. For those who have some knowledge of the occult you would understand the significance of this. It is a symbol of the generative force of creation. This symbol has other forms too, but the thing to understand at this point is that the sun traveling across the heavens is not meant to signify a day, no, it signifies an age.
    As the sun reaches it’s most powerful aspect (zenith) animal life has developed. This is first seen in the form of an animal skull, then of a collection of bones including a humanoid skull. As this ‘age’ wears on you are then shown primitive man in the form of an ape munching on some plants/vegetable matter. This is symbolically important as what you are being shown (and are about to be shown) is that man and the animals lived side by side, neither harming the other. This represents vegetarian man living in a state of innocence. For an interpretation involving the Bible, this state of being is depicted in the book of Genesis as innocent, vegetarian man, living in the garden of Eden. Notice, even when man and the animals were competing for food in this desolate environment no one was harmed, just some grunting, arm waving, etc. As the day (age) wears on a leopard jumps one of the apes but is not shown to actually kill the ape who squeals loudly as he escapes at least once from the cat. The scene blacks out and leaves to your imagination how this encounter might have concluded…
    Next comes the watering hole episode. As a group of primitive man has been satisfying their thirst, another group approaches. There was a great amount of screeching, arm waving, and other body gestures before the group which had already taken a drink backed away and the next group moved in. The important thing to take from this scene is that no one was either injured or killed. As the sun begins to set in the west you see the leopard again, this time with a definite kill it has made. Primitive man seeks shelter inside a cave (a cave is representative of things too, but that is another story). Notice that they are all afraid, eyes open, afraid of the dark and the predatory animals that lurk about in it. There is a mother holding and comforting a small child to her breast. The symbology of this is that primitive man is beginning to evolve from apelike beings into humans that could actually think, as they clearly had some fearful thoughts going on inside their little craniums.

    To sum up a few points, the birth of the world occurred with the ‘rising sun’ and as it progressed across the heavens, first plants, then animals, emerged. Primitive man was living in a state of innocence, harming nothing. By the time it went down in the west primitive man was showing signs of what it shares in common with much of modern man. That being fear of the dark and the longing for the return of the son, err I mean, sun…

    More later, as my back is killing me.
  16. Apr 27, 2003 #15

    As the dawn of a new day (or, age) appears, primitive man awakens to what sounds like buzzing. The buzzing grows louder and louder.He awakens the others and they quickly encircle a monolith which seems to have been placed within their midst while they slept. Notice how they all dance about while one of the apes encourages the other until he at last touches the surface of the monolith. The symbology of this is Adam being encouraged by Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. Something significant has now happened and this is born out by the change and intensity of the sounds being heard. The other members of this 'tribe' also touch the object, being no doubt reassured after seeing the first one do the same. They have followed his lead and this can be interpreted in several ways. Notice 'Osiris' and the 'boat of Isis' shown above the monolith, and take particular note of the phallic stone formations shown in the next two scenes, for there is a pattern here...

    The symbology is speaking of 'primordial knowing', which is portrayed in the Bible as the story of the eating of the apple, in which the gift of intellect is bestowed upon mankind. The sound of those 'bees' relate to the beehive, which is a symbol of societal cohesion where individuals work together in the form of a society, the birth of primitive society, if you will. Notice the look of this primitive individual as first he looks at the bones before him then views the scene of Osiris riding upon the boat of Isis directly above the monolith. The sun would be at 'high noon', its zenith, and the symbology is of the ape/man making a connection and having the first original thought in the history of the world. He has been imparted knowledge/intellect and this is symbolized by the monolith, sun, and eclipse. You can see the gears turning as he invents the first tool. As the bones fly about he makes another connection and smashes the animal skull. His mind now is hard at work and being developed into a tool itself. As the skull is crushed an animal is shown falling and I'm sure if you watch this clip the meaning won't be lost on you. By the late afternoon of this day (age) primitive man has now become a hunter and meat eater...

    Notice what the gift of intellect brings as the next 'day' the watering hole confrontation once again occurs. We see that the group which has been given the gift of intellect is armed, while the other group which has not made the evolutionary leap is not. In the scuffle that takes place for 'watering rights' the death of one of the 'innocents' occurs as he is beaten with bones. The symbology of what you are viewing here is the murder of Able by his brother Cain, and the romantic age of innocence has officially come to an end. The fight for the future will be won by those who can make the necessary evolutionary jump in their 'thinking', and this is a point you need to remember. Where this jump in man’s thinking, through the use of the gift of intellect, takes him is shown symbolically by the tossing of the bone into the air and the next scene of a space vessel, which physically resembles the bone tossed. The symbology is that the progressive use and development of the mind of man will carry him out into space

    To briefly, and biblically, summarize my last two posts you have been watching the creation of the world by God, the gift of intellect given to man by Lucifer, the loss of innocence that came with intellect, and the symbolic removal of man from the Garden of Eden.
  17. Dec 30, 2010 #16
    Read the book, it's all made more or less clear. Plus they go all the way to Saturn, indicating in the story that the rings were an accidental side affect of the construction of the giant monolith.
    The whole LSD thing is a wormhole of sorts, meant to represent that a human could not comprehend what advanced technology he is seeing anymore than a dog can understand what a TV is.

    If it's any comfort, movie actor Rock Hudson walked out on the premiere, begging anyone please tell him
    what the movie was about...
  18. Dec 30, 2010 #17


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    How did you manage to dig up this old thread from 2003?
  19. Dec 30, 2010 #18
    Scrolling; not looking at the dates.
  20. Dec 30, 2010 #19


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    You can't go much further back in time, about 1 month maximum.
  21. Dec 30, 2010 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Heh, definitely not appropriate for dicussion in S&D anymore.
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