This is beyond any doubt, the greatest movie ever made. If we pitiful hominids are to leave something of value behind us to demonstrate our collective genius (after the Solar System explodes), a copy of this movie would qualify. It was made in 1968 and has not aged a day. You could view it today and its vision of Mankind’s future in space and beyond would stand up to scrutiny.
The spoilers will follow; if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch the DVD until you can get to the Cinerama Dome for a big-screen showing (they have them every other year). And don’t forget to sit in the very front row, center seat at the theatre; you’ll be immersed in a psychedelic journey beyond your wildest CGI-addled dreams.
PS. When I talk about the Monolith I am referring to that big, black, rectangular piece of ebony artwork that makes an appearance throughout the film. And yes, I’ve seen the Monolith written with a capital “M” for reasons that will appear in the review that follows.l
Obvious fact #1:
The Monolith is God or something like it. Actually, it was Christian adherents that first proposed this idea. The Monolith appears at different places during Man’s development from a primitive ape into a higher-dimensional being. Who would have the power to effect these transformations on Man?? Since I am a Bible-thumping engineer, I must answer: God. Hence, the Monolith is God, or a representation of Him. I like the fact that God the Father has always been represented as a alien-looking apparition in the Old Testament: burning bush, floating light seen by Abraham, a wind that speaks. It is not until Jesus makes an appearance in the New Testament that we can feel like we can have a man-to-man chat with God and perhaps even have lunch with Him and go swimming afterwards. Which I believe Jesus did from time to time.
In any case, even the atheists in the audience admit that there is something deep and incomprehensible going on with the Monolith. Some say that it represents a door thru which Man is passing, tracing a path that cannot be undone. A creative reader said that it looked like a bookmark, placed here and there in Man’s history to remind us of a particularly meaningful passage that should be noted for its significance.
Obvious Fact #2:
The apes are prehistoric humans that eventually evolve.
Listen, I already went over this contentious issue of Evolution vs. Creationism (See “Kaleidoscope” in this blog) so I’ll just say that the jumping monkeys at the beginning of the movie are taught to use tools and eat meat by the Monolith. After that, they become fat, cholesterol-laden masters of the world and lose all of their hair and start wearing two-piece casual ensemble suits later in the movie. They become us.
By the way, I must make a disclaimer. All responsible biologists agree that this could not have happened (duh!!) because a species does not become meat eaters in a single generation. We don’t suddenly grow canine teeth overnight in preparation for that thick juicy tapir steak that’s awaiting back at the cave. And our digestive systems would need to be tweaked for meat processing. But if you’re only eating tapir meat once a month, I suppose we could work our way into it. And we were able to cook the meat on our new-fangled fire, so perhaps it’s not totally unbelievable. My apologies to the vegetarians and vegans in the audience; Man was made to eat meat. Blame the Monolith.
Obvious Fact #3
Everyone has a problem with this one. Why does the ape grab a bone and throw it up to have it turn into a spaceship?
In what is called the longest fast-forward in cinematic history, the director (Stanley Kubrick) has the ape throw the first weapon developed by Man (the bone) and have it turn into the latest weapon developed by Man (the orbiting nuclear warhead). It would have been pretty cool, but why didn’t he post a big “ACME nuclear warhead” sign on the side?? It would have made things so much easier. I myself did not discover this fact until several months after I saw the movie, when I read the book.
Obvious Fact #4
The stewardess is not using magnetic shoes !!!
In a memorable scene, the stewardess walk 360 degrees up a curved wall in a zero gravity environment. She can do this because without a special shoe that clings to the carpeting, she would be floating in space. The shoes are clearly marked “grip shoes” and can therefore not be magnetic. And the shoes’ adherence to the carpet would not be enough to hold up her weight here on Earth; they must be used in zero gravity.
This is a different phenomenon than the later shots of Dave and Frank walking around the curved walls of their spaceship. In that instance, there *is* gravity being created by the spinning centrifuge in which they spend most of their waking hours. This centrifugal force was also demonstrated in the movie sequel “2010” but be warned that the movie has aged badly. How could a movie made just a few years ago (1984) look more dated than the 1968 version?? Amazing but true.
Obvious Fact #5
The HAL 9000 computer is not a play on the IBM trademarked name. It really is a coincidence that the letters H, A, L can be transmuted into I,B,M by taking the next letter in the alphabet. The author and all other parties involved with the book and the movie will attest to this. It just sounds too good not to be true !!
Obvious Fact #6
The big floating space baby is actually Dave, after his transformation into a higher-dimensional being. The novel makes this all so very clear. But the movie took some artistic license with the transformation scene. (it was very well done too!!)
There. I’ve been waiting 30 years to get this knowledge off my chest. Now we can go back to good old planet Earth. My next piece will be “Obvious Casablanca” or I as call it “Rick is gay.” Stay tuned.