Kubrick explains the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey in rare video clip

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/11/kubrick-explains-the-ending-of.html


This was also in the Arthur Clark novel, in addition other printed interviews with Kubrick that have been around for years.

It is rare that it’s on tape, which I suppose is what the internet generation requires… :roll_eyes:


Well there it is. The whole movie is ruined forever. :wink:


That was pretty much exactly what I thought it was about.


Back in high school I wrote a parody critical essay “explaining” the ending of 2001 (including the unexplainable lightshow sequence) in detail for my film studies class. Kubrick’s explanation is lot more succinct and a lot less esoteric than I recall mine being.


I’ve tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out. When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it, but I’ll try.

And that, right there, is why Stanley Kubrick was such a genius. He knew his art, and he knew how to use it to effectively communicate an idea with it. Simply telling you the idea would leave you with no wonder, no questions, no process of thought that enriches your life.

Just the idea, fully formed, sitting there, unquestioned. Doomed to be known, but never experienced.

Some modern directors could learn a lot from that.


That didn’t sound foolish at all.

I like the part about humans not quite getting zoos right-- that idea is right there in the film, but not super obvious until now.

This clip definitely enhances my appreciation of the film.


I read an interview with him once (probably before this one occurred) in which he demurred about explaining anything and compared it to the Mona Lisa’s smile, saying something about “how would it improve the painting if Leonardo had written at its bottom, ‘the lady is smiling because she’s hiding something from her lover’”. And I appreciate that. But his explanation of the ‘human zoo’ is actually a wonderful enhancement of what’s there on screen without spoiling anything.


Oh, Kubrick Schmubrick - what does he know?


That was exactly my thought - “Or, instead of reading the interview, you could’ve read the book…”


The zoo was a great explanation, fantastic. I also liked the mention of time passing in real time with the movie, and then thinking about how they portrayed that on screen when Bowman is glancing from scene to scene.

It is inspiring to hear a true artist talk about his intention- how story telling goes from ideas to art.

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The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence

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 wasn’t quite sure.

I’m sensing a contradiction there…


You probably had a few pages of padding to add for the assignment requirements though.


Invention, thy mother is necessity.

Also, I’m a little disappointed he skipped the part about the strings of lights being other less-than-godlike aliens’ ships traversing the Monoliths’ roads, and the Monoliths being an automated network to shepherd life for their long vanished builders.

Kubrick was a great filmmaker, but I’d bet Clarke was the brains in this case.

Insert whynotboth.gif

After all, Clarke wrote the book as Kubrick made the movie, which is one of the reasons it’s among the better adaptations.


great question!

If the light beings had the understanding to give Bowman everything he wanted and needed in perfect detail, that might give him the appearance of a play thing being watched by The God. But in the story, it’s nice to see the “lighters” are fallible like humans, and then to watch Bowman apparently evolve past both lighters and humans into a new entity.

I guess what I am saying is that the lighters were evolving as well, it’s not just a step for Bowman/humanity.

Guess we will have to wait till the next reveal tape to know.


You’re probably used to thinking of gods as being Abrahamic omni-everything, whereas for most of history gods were more limited. In today’s sci-fi, such beings would be described as “weakly godlike”.


Eeesh! at this point I think I prefer the simple transformative ideas of the monoliths and the lights, rather than knowing how the sausage is actually made.

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The lights/room are NOT the ending, ALMOST, but not quite.
The ending (in the novel) is the Earthling astronaut, having transformed into an EMBRYO of the “alien” civilization and being imbued with their knowledge (of how they taught the primates to use tools, then planting the monoliths on our Moon to alert them when Earths’ evolution reached the ability of leaving planet). DESTROYS EARTH.
Transforming into one of them, being imbued with their knowledge, the former astronaut and now embryonic alien determines Earthings are too warlike to be allowed to escape into the universe.
The films’ U.S. ending shows the embryo and the planet Earth shining in the stars.
The U.K film version the embryo continues to shine and the Earth EXPLODES. Hollywood could not handle the truth.


Sorry, this isn’t true at all.

The ending of the film (the star child staring at the Earth and then the audience) is the only ending for the film. The Earth did not explode in any version shown.