July 11, 2018

"When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it," said Stanley Kubrick about the ending of "2001."

But he tries to just say it:
The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but weren’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what to do in zoos with animals, we try to give them what we think is their natural environment.

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made some sort of superman. And we have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.

63 comments:

mccullough said...

Most of Kubrick’s work is awful. 2001 might be the worst of his worst.

Bob Boyd said...

Oh.

Jupiter said...

Come off it. It's an acid trip.

traditionalguy said...

HAL is watching you.

Nonapod said...

Makes sense. Kubrick is known for being very visually oriented. His movies are often visually and aurally arresting. But just as often his movies have serious character, dialogue, and/or plot limitations. Dr. Strangelove was an exception I think.

Unknown said...

Most of Kubrick's work is apparently over mccullough's head.

mccullough said...

Kubrick’s work is about as insightful as a sports interview. If Unknown appreciates it, you know it’s tripe.


Unknown not only speaks in cliches, Unknown thinks in cliches.

Otto said...

Christian bashing by a nebbish Bronx photographer.

Bay Area Guy said...

Kubrick's work may be awful, but he did an excellent job with the fake moon landing. (just kidding!)

LarsPorsena said...

Love Kubrick, but 2001 way, way over-rated. A snooze fest.

joshbraid said...

Best part was the music.

Etienne said...
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Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drago said...

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made some sort of superman. And we have to only guess what happens when he goes back.

Easy.

He meets obama and realizes that he is no match for this earth-bound messiah.

buwaya said...

The godlike aliens were a Science Fiction trope long before 2001.

It makes quite a difference, being an SF fan or not, when watching 2001.

mikee said...

Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse 5, put a protagonist in an alien zoo, too, but without any deity-making.

And the movie monolith was black because the original clear plastic one didn't show up well on film, so they painted it. Of such details are mythologies made.

mikee said...

OK, just refreshed my memory, and articles say the black monolith isn't just a painted over plastic one, it is Scandi basalt. Of such details are mythologies overthrown and remade.

richlb said...

I've seen the first half of "Full Metal Jacket" dozens of times. I've seen the second half exactly once.

Fernandistein said...

mccullough said...2001 might be the worst of his worst.

Barry Lyndon. It didn't even have any monkeys.

Fernandistein said...

Bay Area Guy said...Kubrick's work may be awful, but he did an excellent job with the fake moon landing. (just kidding!)

It was good enough to fool me.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bay Area Guy said...

Kubrick's work may be awful, but he did an excellent job with the fake moon landing.

That's because he insisted that they shoot on location.

rcocean said...

Too bad it doesn't make the movie more interesting.

tim in vermont said...

I think it might be easier to read Moby Dick cover to cover than to stay awake through 2001. Though the product placement for the videophone from The Bell System is kind of funny from an anthropological sense, given that "videophones" are now everywhere.

MikeR said...

Yeah, it was a dumb ending. Couldn't make head or tail of it.
Difference from Kubrick: I know what that means. It means the author is an incompetent who doesn't know how to make something coherent.

Jim Daniels said...

I always liked his early film The Killing. Not as obsessed with parallelograms.

The classical pieces he chooses always work well (Bartok and Penderecki in The Shining) and complement the electronic work in the soundtrack (Wendy Carlos formerly a dude named Walter.)

The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...

Read the book to understand the movie.

tim in vermont said...

I seriously didn't know 2001 had an ending. I know that "artistes" don't necessarily believe it to be so, but movies that take our money do owe us a compelling plot.

tim in vermont said...

Blogger The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...
Read the book to understand the movie


So the movie's an "epic fail."

D 2 said...

The moon landing looked real enough but who decided to call one of the main characters Buzz. C'mon. That's a little much.

I didn't mind 2001 but I didn't see it until the late 80s and had no elaborate expectations. Maybe those around when it was first released get more heated about it. It's often that way.

I likely prefer 2001 to Strangelove or Full Metal Jacket and I completely gave up on the Lyndon film. Again am meh / neutralish on Shining. I think I saw all of them in a row back when you could rent like 6 or 7 VHS tapes for a week for some ridiculously low fee from the bigger local rental place who was trying to drive the other guys out of business. Before the corporate stores came to town.....

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CJinPA said...

There is so much more to talk about with that clip. I LOVE it. And I never saw 2001 and don't care about the ending. I want to know the story behind a Japanese man being filmed while doing a phone interview with an American in what looks like the interviewers den.

Char Char Binks said...

It was a stupid, pointless movie that killed Sci Fi until it was resurrected by Star Wars. That taught filmmakers an important lesson: Fuck off with your pseudo-intellectualism, whether philosophical or sciencey, and give us action, danger, chained women in bikinis, and explosions. And make those explosions audible, even where no one can hear you scream.

Mark Nielsen said...


I would have never gathered that meaning from the movie, but I had the benefit of having read Arthur C. Clarke's book version before watching the movie.

The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...


"Blogger tim in vermont said...
Blogger The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...
Read the book to understand the movie

So the movie's an "epic fail.""

An illuminated manuscript. Great book, beautiful movie.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Full Metal Jacket" was outstanding. Nobody has been better than Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

We needed men like him (perhaps characters like him) to fight and win our wars.

Was never really impressed by "2001," but I was way too young when it came out. I was more a Star Trek, then Star Wars kid.

Anthony said...

I think it was a masterpiece. Dated to some extent (isn't everything), but it was the first space movie to take space seriously. No goofy rockets and shiny spacesuits and aliens that are just people in a modified gorilla suit. Not to mention all sorts of sounds in space. It was loosely derived from Clarke's The Sentinel in which an alien object is found on the moon and took off from there.

It's not a dopey shoot-em-up-bang-bang space adventure thing. Those were a dime a dozen. It takes its time and lets the story unfold. The ending was weird, and didn't tie things up nicely; both Kubrick and Clarke wanted it that way; ambiguity makes one think.

Back in 1969 the visuals were absolutely stunning on a wide screen. And the attention to detail was bordering on obsessive; see: Zero Gravity Toilet instructions.

I thought much of the score was just plain weird, but often the fit was magnificent. The Blue Danube waltz captured the essence of all the myriad moving parts that had to come together for a space craft to dock with a rotation (half completed!) station, or land on the moon.

It's not a beer to pound, it's a cognac to be savored.

Anthony said...

(I saw it in the theater when it came out, albeit as a 7-year old)

Howard said...

Blogger mccullough said...

Most of Kubrick’s work is awful. 2001 might be the worst of his worst.


It must suck hard to be you. I'm very very sorry.

Be said...

I love this movie, only seen on the big screen. Recently, the new 70mm print showed up locally (bring earplugs). As it was nearly 20 years since (after living near Versailles, losing a good bit of hearing, etc), I found the final scenes sterile, though not quite claustrophobic. Housemate, who is a Mathematician, as well as, for a lack of better terms, "High Functioning," told me that he'd like such a setup, except that it'd feel too much like a zoo enclosure.

Gosh, which is my favorite Kubrick film: 2001, Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory, or the Shining.

Jay Elink said...

We're so used to blue screens and computer graphics now that we forget how absolutely amazing it was to see a wheeling space station floating serenely in orbit, and weightless astronauts maneuvering outside their ship without wires or other shlocky gizmos that never quite disappeared, no matter how hard the editors tried.

I saw the movie with a young Congressional aide, who objected that the astronaut sent outside to fetch the supposedly defective module couldn't do that---he would fall down!

The Godfather said...

Very disappointing. Now it's 2001 + 17, and where's the big wheeling space station? Those cargo-containers-in-orbit don't count. Don't blame Kubrick. Blame the world.

rcocean said...

Remember Comic Book guy?

His favorite Movie was 2001.

And his opinion of star wars?

"Worst SF Movie..Ever"

Dave in Tucson said...

If you read Clarke's corresponding 2001 novel (which is more than just a blow-by-blow retelling of the movie), it's a lot less oblique than the movie.

Roughcoat said...

Kubrick is visually oriented, an art director not a storyteller. His movies were driven by the visuals, by the scenes. He knew how he wanted each scene to look, how the entire movie should look, and this took precedence over plot and coherent storytelling. He was notoriously obsessive-compulsive about getting the look he wanted. I think it was often the case that the plots of most of his movies were definitively shaped only after filming was completed, during the editing process. His editors were more important to the storytelling process than he was, they were expected to make the movies coherent -- and sometimes they didn't always succeed. This is why his movies are often beautiful to watch but slow-moving, boring, and incoherent. This is why the endings are often ambiguous. The ambiguity is due to his not really knowing how he wanted to end them -- he didn't know what his movies were really about. Left to his own devices, he wasn't very good at telling a story, he had no feel for plotting, pacing, or rhythm. "The Shining" is a case in point. What was that movie about? What happened at the end? Kubrick was always coy about this. But his coyness was a dodge. He had no real idea what the movie was about what the ending meant. He filmed two endings and they were very different from each other. Somewhere in the middle of the movie he completely discards or forgets to deal with the concept of the "shining", i.e. what it meant or was supposed to mean. The movie was incoherent. It was a bunch of great scenes strung together which meant nothing and were thematically contradictory.

But, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed several of his movies. I even got to like "Barry Lyndon" after a fashion. "Dr. Strangelove" is a comedic masterpiece, in large measure because he was working from a brilliant and very tightly written screenplay. The first half of "2001" and the first half of "Full-Metal Jacket" are brilliant, the second halves of each are terrible -- because he's he a poor storyteller.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roughcoat said...

What I remember about "2001" when it came out in 1968 was that it made the science fiction genre respectable again: it was a big budget science fiction movie made by an A-list director that actually looked good. That was a big deal at the time.

William said...

Peter Parker had a far more interesting origin story. Perhaps if they had inadvertently left an alien spider in that zoo room, and the spaceman got bit by it and, then, the spaceman developed superpowers that enabled him to best the alien that put him in the room. Or maybe the alien to keep the spaceman entertained puts a minimally clad sex robot in the room. The spaceman and the robot actually fall in love and use their combined power to best the alien......I suppose the plus side of enigmatic images is that you can read your own brilliance into the obscurity. It won Dylan a Nobel....,.My studies of astrophysics leads me to believe that the cosmos is a Möbius strip and that everything repeats in an endless loop, but that's only true in one temporospatial dimension. YMMV.

Robert Cook said...

"I seriously didn't know 2001 had an ending. I know that "artistes" don't necessarily believe it to be so, but movies that take our money do owe us a compelling plot."

Why? Plot isn't always the most important element of a story. In the best work, it's never the most important element.

Each to his own, though. I think 2001 is compelling, one of Kubrick's best. His least satisfying movie, to me, is THE SHINING. Which wasn't bad, just nothing special. I never saw EYES WIDE SHUT.

Robert Cook said...

"It was a stupid, pointless movie that killed Sci Fi until it was resurrected by Star Wars."

You have it completely backwards. STAR WARS is a blight on popular culture, a cinematic pre-frontal lobotomy, both causing and requiring a deadening of part of one's mind to tolerate.

Robert Cook said...

"Fuck off with your pseudo-intellectualism, whether philosophical or sciencey, and give us action, danger, chained women in bikinis, and explosions."

There's nothing wrong with that, as long as it's done intelligently, and with daring. Tarantino, yes; Lucas, no.

Lucas did make at least one wonderful movie in his career: AMERICAN GRAFFITI. (I've never seen THX 1138, which I've heard good things about. Based on what I've seen, AG is his one film of merit.)

Howard said...

Robert: Don't be so harsh. Star Wars are great childrens stories. Camille Paglia and Joseph Campbell can't both be wrong.

gilbar said...

for years and years, i tell everyone how much i loved Dr. Strangelove, and how it was such a great movie; then i finally realized that the only parts i truely enjoyed were in the B-52. Thank GOD that Peter Sellers got himself hurt, and had to be cut from those scenes. Having him play Major Kong instead of Slim Pickens* would have Really sucked. James Earl Jones' character is my favorite though. The checklists are the good parts

Slim Pickens* Supposedly, when Slim showed up on the set in England; one the the crew members looked at him, and said: "My GOD! he's Already in character!"
And another crew member (that had worked with Slim), said: "No, that's just Slim"

Quaestor said...

You have it completely backwards.

At long last Cook and Quaestor agree on something without caveats.

My favorite Kubrick movie is one that most reviewers count as his least successful effort, Barry Lyndon. Yes, Ryan O'Neal wasn't quite up to it, and yes, it proceeds at the pace of a sarabande, but deliberately so. Frankly, I think it is his masterpiece.

As I understand the background story, Barry Lyndon as a project grew out of Kubrick's acquisition of three ultra-fast Carl Zeiss lenses which allowed him to film interior scenes lit only by candlelight and a desire to scout locations for his planned but never realized magnum opus — Napoleon. In effect Barry Lyndon was an experiment in cinematography. Could the art of cinema immerse the viewer convincing into a world lit only by fire?

CWJ said...

I may have been the only human other than Kubrick to have seen Barry Lyndon twice, intentionally, on purpose. And I know that I must be the only person who thought that Ryan O'Neal did a better job than Marisa Berenson. Maybe equal, they both played pieces of wood, but that was the point.

Full Metal Jacket totally lost me when they chose to stage the vietnam war as the ruins of Stalingrad.

CWJ said...

"Most of Kubrick’s work is awful. 2001 might be the worst of his worst."

There is much with which I disagree with mccullogh, but this may top the list. I don't think there has been anyone who has brought an unique take to his movies for so many different movies as Kubrick did. He was truly driven by the subject matter of each of his movies rather than some formula that made the movies identifiable as his. Missteps at time, sure, but always outside the envelope in different ways for each different story.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I createdmy own lyr ics such thatthe Fool on The Bi!! is 't unadulation but instead aspirational Beatle-wise perfection based ugly.

Ergo, foo! is king.

"Don't even go there (it's already done)
Don't even go there (it's already done)
Don't even go there (it's already done)
Don't even go there (it's already done).

Guildofcannonballs said...

So if weagreefoolishness was a(the goal) Kubrick can be seen scene-by-scene as intended: not to make you feel the foolbut himself for having any feels st all. too millenial before that became some....thing.

Guildofcannonballs said...

He aguy who said to himself "Sta elyHotel. Fuck thst I'llmakethat hotel shine with y movir" and did her.


Jack ain't ever been the same.

After whatthey did to her for your dol!ars.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Frozen brambles bedewed, sparkle never falsely.

stlcdr said...

Depending what you like in a movie, it's either one of the best or one of the worst. This type of movie has so much that isn't said or thoroughly explained to the nth degree that it's understandable that some people 'hate' it.

Apple pie doesn't taste as good as it should if you are expecting to take a bite of cherry pie.

Unknown said...

This brings back memories and not just of the film. I love the part of the interview where Mr Kubrick is accidentally hitting keys on his phone. I imagine it is him shifting the phone and his cheek hitting the number pad. Something we just don't see anymore.

Robert Cook said...

"I may have been the only human other than Kubrick to have seen Barry Lyndon twice, intentionally, on purpose."

No, you are not. Many people consider BARRY LYNDON Kubrick's greatest film.

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