2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that”

As I sat and watched the opening sequence to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I could almost feel tears in my eyes. Tears, because it’s all so beautiful and powerful, because this movie is so much more than a movie. It’s suspenseful, meditative, perfectly paced and is perhaps the most beautiful movie ever made, with unbelievable and stunning imagery all throughout.
But what the hell does it all mean?

In the track Right In Two by the American band Tool, Maynard James Keenan sings: “Silly monkeys give them thumbs, they forge a blade, and where there's one they’re bound to divide it” and he really puts his finger on something interesting there. Is it just the mere creation of thumbs that makes animals beat each other to death, as if we’re just waiting for evolution to give us the opportunity? What 2001: A Space Odyssey suggests is that it’s not the basic existence of physical ability that would spark a killing spree - the bones that lay there on the ground has basically always been there for the monkeys to use - but it’s not until the arrival of the monolith that they become weapons for the monkeys, to kill other of the same kind.

So rather than inflicting on the usage of tools, the monolith seem to affect the mind that perceive the tools – for the monkeys this is seen in the form of using the bone to kill each other and during the couple of million years that’s skipped over in the brilliant cut the monkeys have evolved into humans which have found other things to kill each other with. This could be nuclear weapons or just a shotgun, but the tools we've created can be used to kill. Enter HAL 9000, a genius computer we've built.

After being of great use, HAL slowly start to turn against the crew on the ship and eventually leading to some deaths, so once again the evolution has led up to tools of destruction. The bone that the monkeys found could obviously be used for a lot of things, but they chose killing and the multi-useful tool HAL kills people. But this time, it’s not we as humans who directly kills somebody; it’s outside of our hands because we've created intelligence capable of working on its own.

During the years that we've created machines - which in the long run seem like very few years – we've constantly improved them, the machine has evolved in a rapid pace, just like the evolvement of humans. Could it be that we've been so busy with creating constant evolution in the fields of science that we've forgotten our own evolution, what makes us humans? So when Dr. Dave Bowman takes up the fight against HAL – it’s not just a mere individual battling a computer, it’s the survival of human evolution, trying to fight of what we've created and for once it’s about a personal evolvement instead of mechanical.

Does this make HAL evil? Not necessarily, what if HAL is the next step in the evolution? A world where humans are no longer needed, because we’re a species so retarded compared to the artificial intelligence that we've created – and that would be just like the evolution has always worked, the lesser suited kinds eventually dies of for the growth of the perfected one, survival of the fittest. We humans has always seen ourselves as the top of the evolution, but with the power that the monolith’s unquestionably brought – maybe we have been too smart for our own survival?

After so many years of killing, first with bones and then more advanced weapons – one would think that things would settle down. This is implied in 2001: A Space Odyssey, seeing as the US has a collaboration with Russia but we still haven’t reached a full state of peace. With the machines we create – even if they’re not weapons per se – we still continue to create death and in that sense kill our self as a species. In the theory of evolution, that would only be natural and necessary for evolution – but what will come after us, and is it really the end?

In the end of the movie, we see the creation of the so-called “starchild” which could be seen as yet another step in evolution, after the contact with the monolith. So in a sense, that gives the human species another chance, a thought about trying one more time to make things work without ending up killing everything. The starchild is perhaps a kind of “superhuman” and further evolution of our species could probably be the salvation that’s needed – but what if it isn't? Maybe starchild isn't the rescue for the humans but just a mere evolution that will eventually end up the same way, but with even more evolved way of killing and creating death.

The million ways to look at 2001: A Space Odyssey is simply a million reasons to why it’s so brilliant. As the movie opened, I almost found myself crying – and when the credits hit I could feel the tears in my eyes. Tears, because it’s all so beautiful and powerful and most of all, tears because 2001: A Space Odyssey is perhaps the best movie ever made. It’s brilliance in every frame and I love it with all my heart, no matter which way I look at it. Maybe it’s an odyssey over the endless circle of death we’re stuck in, no matter if starchild will arrive or not. But right this moment, that’s not what I chose to believe, I believe in starchild.

I believe in us.

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