September 20, 2013

A montage of last moments.



(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Isn't it odd that the most iconic last moment is the image of a fetus in "2001," from 1968? Like it's the ultimate profundity, 5 years before Roe v. Wade. How did that happen? A strange cultural convergence, possibly more mysterious than "2001." What was going on with that big baby? Wikipedia says:
Stanley Kubrick originally intended that when the film does its famous match-cut from prehistoric bone-weapon to orbiting satellite that the latter and the 3 additional satellites seen would be established as orbiting nuclear weapons by a voice-over narrator talking about nuclear stalemate. Further, Kubrick intended that the Star Child at the end of the film would detonate the weapons at the end of the film. Over time, Kubrick decided that this would create too many associations with his previous film Dr. Strangelove and he decided not to make it so obvious that they were “war machines.” 
That's news to me. I thought the big baby was supposed to be uplifting. That throws a different light on my abortion question!

Please don't let this issue overshadow the montage, which is excellent and worth watching for all sorts of interesting and interestingly similar shots.

9 comments:

St. George said...

The Star Child's detonation of the satellites bearing multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (a mouthful of H-Bomb MIRVs) would have been to warn human's below to disarm, not to destroy life on Earth.

People on the ground would have been able to see the destruction in the heavens and been thus chastened into evolving further.

Otherwise, 2001 makes no sense. So...the movie is uplifting. Otherwise, why would the aliens want us to evolve? So that they could destroy us?

The Godfather said...

I thought the movie was cool when it came out, because the special effects seemed very realistic, and they portrayed on the big screen a lot of the future science I'd been waiting for since seeing stuff like this in the illustrations by Chesley Bonestell in the '50's. But all the "deep" stuff seemed pointless and draggy, including the final sequence. I did like killing the robot, though. I tried to rewatch it (albeit on the small screen) a year or so ago, and couldn't stand the incredibly slow pace.

eddie willers said...

What's disheartening is that in 1968, we really did expect to have a space station with a Hilton Hotel by 2001.

William said...

I always thought that the end was like a Möbius strip where at the end you found the beginning, and the embryo was the astronaut in uterus.

JohnG said...

The baby in utero image was very in vogue then thanks to Lennart Nilsson's "A Child is Born" book from 1965 and the Life magazine cover story from April of that year. I was born in '65 and as a kid I came across that issue of Life a lot even though it would have been years after it came out; people held onto that issue, so clearly it resonated.

Ann Althouse said...

@JohnG Thanks for naming that. Writing the post, I was going to speculate about that, but I didn't find it easily enough and moved on.

I remember that Life, and I also remember being in art school circa 1970 and the fetus being a common theme in drawings and paintings, common enough that a teacher complained about it.

SGT Ted said...

I am glad that Kubrick didn't ruin Arthur C Clarkes story by changing it into what Kubrick wanted to say about the Cold War.

Pianoman said...

What I found interesting is the number of films I *didn't* recognize ... and the number of films that *didn't* make the list. I'm thinking about films like Fight Club, Planet Of The Apes, Inception, and Raiders Of The Lost Ark.




lemondog said...

2021(or sooner) A Space Odyssey