Re: 2001's gospel message

David B. Fenske (
Fri, 05 Nov 1999 00:28:41 -0800

Jumping out of lurker mode...

I read 2001 back in grade 7. I saw the movie many years later. I must
confess I
found the film to be rather dull and slow in many spots, particularly the
and end. What struck me about the end in particular is that nobody would
be able
to make much sense of had they not read the book.

In the book, Dave is taken to the room, and eventually is transformed into
the star
child, a being with great powers, who senses the nuclear missiles
surrounding earth
and simply gets rid of them. The book ends with the star child pondering
what to do
next. At least, thats how I remember it. What I don't recall is what
happens during
all that time in the room, and whether there is any sense of Dave yielding
to the alien

I always took it as a statement on man's possible future development,
evolutionary if you will,
guided by an alien intelligence, who have decided we are ready to move
forward. But if there
was a sense of Dave having to yield to the monolith before being
transformed, then your
interpretation would at least parallel that of the book, with the
difference being in whom one
yields to. But I doubt that Clarke or Kubrick saw the ending as any kind
of religious metaphor.

Still, I like your reading of it. It fits.


At 04:46 PM 11/04/1999 -0500, you wrote:
>In his masterpiece film 2001, Stanley Kubrick illustrated a deathbed
>conversion scene. This has gone unnoticed by most critics but I
>recognized it immediately when I first saw the film in 1967.
>In the ending scenes, Dave finds himself in a strange white room,
>with no sound and nobody around. He is eating breakfast, just
>passing time away. Then he is seen as an astronaut in his
>spacesuit. Then he is seen as an older man. Finally, he is seen
>as a very elderly man in bed. At the foot of the bed stands the
>black monolith, vertically, facing him.
>At that moment Dave weakly raises his hand toward the monolith.
>It is a gesture of submission, and recognition.
>In the next scene, the final one of the movie, Dave appears as
>a fetus, or a newborn baby, suspended in space. The music is
>My interpretation: Dave took a long time, trying to save himself,
>trying to escape death by means of technology, proud of his
>victory in even overcoming the murderous HAL. But when he is
>imprisoned alone within himself, after an extended period of time,
>he comes to the end of himself. On his deathbed, he finally
>gives in and submits to the will of the Power that is greater than
>him. Immediately the heavenly gate is opened, the key having
>been found. Dave is reborn in a new creation.
>(Go back and see the film, and check out my interpretation for
>Now, do you think Kubrick would have interpreted it that way?
>Who is right?
>Paul Arveson