I am very intrigued by artists who convey a message concealed in a plot, film or painting. One work that has caught my attention is Kubrick's "2001" (based on Arthur C. Clarke's book 2001 - A Space Odyssey) and I think it is very relevant to the "Secret Rulers of the World" debate.
was very interested in secret societies, as his last film, "Eyes
Wide Shut", illustrated.
This is my interpretation of the film, garnered from reading various
interpretations, mixed with some of my own:
At once Kubrick is making a
reference to Nietzsche's anti-hero - Zarathustra and his
philosophical struggle with the nature of existence, his struggle
The sounds of Ligeti's "Requiem" and "Lux Aeterna" ("Light Eternal") stream during this encounter with this strange piece of masonry.
(Notice the subtle imagery, in the above picture, of a kind of truncated pyramid, topped by the "eye" of the sun.)
The ape men are afraid and jump around but the leader approaches the object and reaches out to touch it but at the last moment withdraws.
The music becomes more ethereal and the ape man leader reaches out to make contact with it again and this time he successfully touches its jet black, perfectly smooth surfaces. This is the last moment of sensuality in the whole of the rest of the film. Simultaneous to this portentous event, the sun is eclipsed by the moon and the monolith withdraws far away to a distant location. What a tease!
The ape man's childlike curiosity was aroused and then frustrated - like a child that is given a toy and then it's suddenly taken away!
Kubrick is telling us that something very profound has happened here - that the masonry and the position of the planets have had an influence on the destiny of mankind.
As a perfectionist, Kubrick planned and agonized over every scene and so they are all important and should not be discarded by the viewer.
In the next scene, we see the ape man with a pile of bones.
He has one in his hand and he realizes that it can be used as a tool. Kubrick was definitely making a specific statement here because it comes immediately after the contact with the black masonry.
strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" are heard again and during this
musical episode the ape man wields the bone above his head and
realizes that the bone can be used as a weapon, a weapon with which
he can kill! It is the dawning of a new age for mankind.
By jumping millions of years, we are left in no doubt
that Kubrick estimates the monolith and the effect it had on the ape
men, and what is about to happen in the rest of the film, to be more
We are now in the space-age future.
Strauss's "Blue Danube Waltz" is playing and we see an American spaceship spinning in space on its way to the moon. Kubrick seems to be celebrating advanced technology but this is only a whim of fancy. Inside the spaceship is a lonely character called Heywood Floyd.
He and his colleagues are completely without emotion, they seem so lifeless and pitiful. The green pastures and blue skies of home are left behind and the inhabitants of the space station have become like the computers and machines that they operate.
For the next two hours of the film there will
only be sterile environments and a tightly trapped mind in an
infinitely large universe.
Floyd drones on
about why it is so important that they should "spin" a cover story.
Basically, they should say that an epidemic has broken out at the
American moon base.
Again, the men involved here are humorless, lifeless and soulless and the men eat revolting food as they discuss the importance of the most important discovery in all the history of humanity.
A magnetic survey of the moon has revealed that something was giving off an anomalous reading just below the surface of the moon.
It has been dug up.
They discover that the object giving off the anomalous
reading is in fact a black monolith. When we actually see it, we
find that it is the same one that appeared to the ape men at the
beginning of the film. Kubrick does not tell us who buried it there
Without explanation, we are on this ship, on its way to Jupiter, with two astronauts, David Bowman and Frank Poole. The other crew are hibernating in sealed capsules. The two astronauts, Bowman and Poole, are even more lifeless than the men on the moon.
There is, though, a third "living" entity onboard the ship and this character actually does seem to have a soul, or at least the beginnings of one!
He is HAL, the onboard computer that runs the ship. It is
strange but the two astronauts never even wonder or question the
purpose of the trip.
All of Frank's other pieces are undeveloped, which in chess is equivalent to "hibernation".
HAL has focused on the development of his own pieces towards Frank's king. With Frank's queen and knight conveniently out of the way, busy capturing pawns, HAL is able to checkmate Frank. The activity in the chess game appears remarkably similar to what is going on in the mission.
of the humans are hibernating. HAL baits both Frank and
Dave out of
the ship pursuing relatively minor problems with the AE35, while he
(HAL) continues on with his plan of taking over the mission by
killing all the crew members and locking Dave out.
Why did Kubrick show us these scenes, were they just poetry?.
As a perfectionist, Kubrick planned and agonized over every scene and so they are all important and should not be discarded by the viewer.
Later in the movie, HAL is portrayed by a glowing camera lens. I have noticed that in real life camera lenses don't glow, so why did Kubrick choose to portray HAL with glowing eyes?
Kubrick is making a link here between the predatory tiger and
HAL. HAL is a predator. If HAL had succeeded he would have been just
like the tiger, glowing eyes sitting over the carcasses of the dead
crew members in Discovery.
But where does evolution lead from HAL?
To the monolith itself! HAL is still a predator, the destroyer of life, but as we saw with the ape men and later at the end of the film with the birth of the star child, the monolith without the glowing eye is the creator of new life, the bringer of the next step in evolution!
It appears that the evolutionary path
from organic life, to computer, to monolith is one possible
As its circuits are shut down, one by one, it garbles out the song: "A Bicycle Built for Two". It is only after HAL dies that Dave discovers the real reason for the Jupiter mission. A video of Heywood Floyd comes onto a TV screen as HAL dies. The tape was made for the astronauts for when they were to come out of hibernation.
Now that all the hibernating astronauts are dead, it is only Dave
who gets the message. According to Floyd, the reason for the mission
was to find out why the monolith was emitting the strange signal
There is a strange juxtaposition going on here. We have an outside force broadening our limited view of reality that we previously had.
What he seems to be
saying here is that it is not the monolith itself that is bad but
the forces that are in control of it. The monolith is 99% truth and
1% poison and that poison is powerful enough to destroy millions of
times over. It is only because humanity has been negligent and in
some cases willfully so, that it has had to go to hell and realize
the power of the Divine in order to find redemption.
are also failing to ask the relevant questions. There is also little
doubt that Kubrick knew this all the time; it isn't accidental in
anyway. Kubrick is actually telling us that the monolith is the
film, and conversely, the film is the monolith. His message was for
mankind to wake up.
But at what cost?
Kubrick is content
to show that the cost of this gift is our souls generally speaking.
When the ape man threw the bone up into the sky, that was the last
time that we saw any part of nature again in the film. From then on
Kubrick shows us the antiseptic hospital like future, implying that
this is the end of the trail that the bone weapon began four million
The last stretch of the film takes place wholly inside the human
mind. In a way, we all have the potential to be Dave Bowman.
Bowman is now Odysseus like the title assumes and like Odysseus, Bowman must go as far away from home as is possible. He must face monsters and experience things that he does not understand. All of this must be done before he can return home. Earth, or home, is a long way off now.
Bowman is just following
orders and he must now investigate the strange monolith that is
circling Jupiter. Like Odysseus, Bowman will be transformed by this
voyage beyond all recognition. When, and if, he does return, Bowman
will be the wisest of all - for he was the one brave enough to enter
the waters of eternity and come back home to tell us about it.
The very last shot in this sequence is the monolith crossing at a ninety degree angle with the moons of Jupiter. At that moment the famous 'light show' sequence starts.
The monolith is a gate that allows Bowman to witness the infinite. He is the first man who has ever experienced the truth of the monolith and what it has to offer.
Bowman first falls through a web of geometries and colors.
The universe is passing by at light speed and it has become porous and blended together. Seven octahedrons - all changing color and form - appear over the sliding universe. The core of a distant galaxy explodes. A sperm cell-like creature searches for something. An ovary? A cloud-like embryo is forming into a child. Now alien worlds fly by, all of their colors and hues gone wild.
Bowman is experiencing overload and looks like he might not be able to handle the amount of information that is being given.
This is humanity's initiation.
Bowman is our representative in this process. He is the first man through. In this experience of passing through the monolith, Bowman is transformed by a completely psychedelic experience. Real information is being passed to Bowman by the monolith.
Finally, the scene ends in the strange hotel room. This is the mysterious ending that Stanley struggled to shoot. The set is that of both a modern and baroque French-style room with startlingly modern lighting coming up through the floor. This is no normal hotel room.
The light just seems to glow out of the bottom of the scene causing everything to carry this numinous, incandescent quality to it. There are weird voices on the soundtrack that are laughing at Bowman. The uncomfortable feeling of incomprehension encourages us to look to physical features for familiarity; something solid to grasp onto. Kubrick does not offer us this.
This ambiguity heightens our sense of curiosity.
Bowman goes through three series of transformations during this scene.
He gets older with each transformation. Dave's environment, the decorated white room, becomes a metaphor for the human body. The body, Dave Bowman, becomes a metaphor for the human mind.
beginning of the scene, as Dave taps into a new level of
consciousness, he is initially shocked. This can be seen by the
alarming contrast between the red space suit Dave initially wears
and the near pure white background. As Dave begins to accept his
surroundings, we can see his body 'age' rapidly: the mind is
On the other hand, the elements, namely the artwork, tiles and furniture, that make up the contents of the room appear to indicate a myriad of human achievements spanning centuries and continents.
High technology, a yearning for
innovation, human creativity, classical architecture, cleanliness,
calculated precision and high art are just a few elements that
spring to mind; factors which distinguish the human race from the
rest of the animal kingdom. Already the viewer has received a
universally positive statement, whether or not they are aware of it
on a conscious level..
combination of geometric lines, the definition of the x, y and z
planes and bright white light give an impression of calculation,
purity and precision: elements that are synonymous with high
technology. It is known that bright cross lighting, used throughout
this scene, can be incredibly revealing and in most cases can expose
blemishes and imperfections in the set. In combination with the
white walls, ceiling and floor, it can be seen that this set
achieves nothing short of perfection, another reason to suspect a
shift of reality.
If, for example, were blue used as a substitute, the room could risk appearing overly clinical, perhaps too futuristic, which would emphasize a reliance on technology.
furniture itself appears to be sophisticated and stylized, as though
it came direct from an upper class nineteenth century western
European home. This furniture implicitly suggests the idea of human
sentimentality and an appreciation for the old and the aesthetic.
The artworks which appear to be in the renaissance style put forth
this idea also.
This action has been likened to the Jewish tradition of breaking glass at a wedding ceremony: a symbol of great change occurring. Stanley Kubrick himself was Jewish, which makes this parallel plausible. Aware of the Jewish tradition or not, the sight and sound of broken glass alone in the controlled environment holds enough contrast to shock us into thinking that change is about to occur.
Dave is thereby about to enter the new level of conscious existence.
Finally, right after the scene where Bowman breaks the wine glass, the monolith appears again for the last time. Bowman is in the bed now and he is extremely old.
He stares at the monolith, the single
stone that stands like a huge stone book at the foot of his bed.
But, momentarily, something does appear. It is an embryo with a nearly-born fetus in it.
This is the famous Starchild.
The Starchild comes more in focus. In the next shot, Kubrick tracks his camera into the very body of the monolith - coming from the direction of the bed.
He is showing us that the Starchild has
entered into and passing through the monolith. In the very next
scene - which is the last scene in the movie - the Starchild is
passing the moon and is heading towards the Earth.
With the realization of his own fallibility, and his
own trapped spirit, he is finally liberated from the realm of the
hotel prison, or the world of illusion. In that instant he
understands what the book of stone is trying to tell him. He lifts
his hand in a gesture of understanding. And in that moment he is
transformed - without dying - into the Starchild.
This film director has made the ultimate religious movie.
The film is the monolith.
In a secret that seems to never have been seen by anyone - the monolith in the film has the same exact dimensions as the Cinerama movie screen on which 2001 was projected in 1968.
This can only be seen if one sees, or rents, the film in its wide-screen format. Completely hidden from critic and fan alike is the fact that Kubrick consciously designed his film to be the monolith, the stone that transforms.
Like the monolith, the film projects images into our heads that make us consider wider possibilities and ideas.
Like the monolith, the film ultimately
presents an initiation, not just of the actor on the screen, but
also of the audience viewing the film. That is Kubrick's ultimate
trick. He slyly shows here that he knows what he is doing at every
step in the process. The monolith and the movie are the same thing.
He is also, like Christ, warning us that there are dark powers more powerful than human beings, and that these powers are, at the present time, in control of this Great Work here on earth. The monolith represents the, the White Pebble of Revelation, the Holy Grail, the Philosopher Stone, the Book of Nature and the Film that initiates.
Stanley Kubrick has truly made the
Book of Nature into film. Using powdered
silver nitrates, glued onto a strip of plastic that is then
projected onto the movie screens of our mind, Kubrick has proven
himself to be one of the ultimate esoteric artists of the late 20th
2001 - A Space Odyssey