"2001" is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon's surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.Written by
The film took more than four years to develop and make. It cost more than $10 million, a formidable price tag in 1960s Hollywood. See more »
When David Bowman re-enters Discovery he uses the right "hand" of the pod to rotate the manual lift control for the pod bay door. While it it possible for this to work with the pod's thrusters compensating for the rotational torque, it would be more efficient if there were a left "handhold" to keep the pod from rotating around the control, instead of spinning the pod around. See more »
"Thus Spake Zarathustra" is the only musical piece in the film whose conductor and orchestra are not mentioned in the closing credits. For all other pieces, the orchestra which plays it, and the conductor who leads it, are given screen credit. See more »
The film originally premiered at 160 minutes. After the premiere, director Stanley Kubrick removed about 19 minutes' worth of scenes and made a few changes:
Some shots from the "Dawn of Man" sequence were removed and a new scene was inserted where an ape pauses with the bone it is about to use as a tool. The new scene was a low-angle shot of the monolith, done in order to portray and clarify the connection between the man-ape using the tool and the monolith.
Some shots of Frank Poole jogging in the centrifuge were removed.
An entire sequence of several shots in which Dave Bowman searches for the replacement antenna part in storage was removed.
A scene where HAL severs radio communication between the "Discovery" and Poole's pod before killing him was removed. This scene explains a line that stayed in the film in which Bowman addresses HAL on the subject.
Some shots of Poole's space walk before he is killed were removed.
I'm always surprised, given that the famous title track of 2001 is called "Also sprach Zarathustra", that nobody (nobody I've read, anyway) has noted the parallels between the movie and Nietzsche's famous work, "Also sprach Zarathustra". The idea of man's rebirth into a star child; an infant form of an indescribably more advanced being, is an explicit part of N.'s "Zarathustra"; there is a prominent passage called "On how a camel becomes a lion, and a lion becomes a child", in which N. describes the first incarnation of the overman as a child, transcending both the ascetic, altruistic side of man (the camel; always asking to bear more weight) and the rapacious, brutish, will-to-power side of man (the lion). The fact that the song plays during the star child sequence can hardly be coincidence. And also, Zarathustra said that "man is a rope tied between beasts and the overman." The structure of the movie fits that description: a brief history of man as beast, until we become truly man by mastering weapons and acquiring reason, then a long sequence about man (the rope, as it were), and then a brief glimpse of the overman. The inscrutability of how these transformations occurred, and the suggestion that an external force caused them, is also Nietzschean; in "Zarathustra", he makes it pretty clear that he doesn't have a clue how people are going to be able to enact these changes themselves and suggests that we will have to depend on an outsider (Zarathustra) to show us how to "go under". Bowman's psychedelic sequence at the near-end could be seen as Kubrick's best 1960's-style attempt at depicting the mystical "going under".
I know these parallels are pretty broad, and almost certainly have been noted elsewhere despite the fact that I have not personally seen it. But I just wanted to mention them, if for no other reason than to try to dispel the myth that Nietzsche was ultimately a gloomy philosopher. Few people find the ending of 2001 to be gloomy, and it is in my opinion, explicitly and unmistakeably Nietzschean. The case could certainly be made that 2001 is above all a dramatization of "Zarathustra" updated for the modern age. Feel free to disregard the outright snobbishness of my tying everything to Nietzsche.
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