Saturday, July 07, 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey has most of the elements I tend to love in science fiction. It attempts scientific and technical realism. It moves at a pensive pace. It has stunning visuals and awe-inspiring music. The story as it unfolds is strong. The villain is fitting and worthy. What's front and center is ideas over action. It doesn't pander to the audience. In fact, quite the opposite, in its challenge to make the audience think, to ponder and wonder. It has a consistent and meaningful overall message. The film sits with you long after leaving the theaters, as it were. It's thoughtful, reflective, meditative. So I'd say I have a high appreciation for the movie as a work of art, as evidence of Stanley Kubrick's mastery as a filmmaker and storyteller.

However, the film's "philosophical statement about man's place in the universe" (Roger Ebert) is precisely why I don't enjoy watching it. It's secular through and through. Humanity evolves, then transcends itself, beyond man. Secular salvation on the silver screen. Although I suppose it reflects the fact that even secularists like Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke know this flesh and these bones aren't all we are, not all we're meant to be; that we're made for something more. In this respect, I think the star child is visionary, but it takes a cue from and riffs off of Christianity. A man of dust transformed into a man of "heaven". A seed is sown, it dies the death, then blooms into a "heavenly" body. Rather than God remaking us, we've remade ourselves, albeit with help from an apparently benevolent if enigmatic and god-like alien species tugging us along the pathway until we reach the next evolutionary stage. Born anew, the perishable clothed with the imperishable, from dust to stardust. Putting away childish ways, childhood's end, becoming true man, which is star man. The beatific vision of the star child depicted on celluloid is alluring indeed - man in wonderment over man, gazing upon the old earth from a perch in the new heavens - but in truth the star child is a gross caricature or twisted parody of the new creation in Christ. If we look past the cinematic mask, through the angelic disguise, then we might consider how the star child is nearer Frankenstein's monster than God's new Adam.


  1. I love 2001. It is testament to Kubrick's genius. Because when you read the novel it is just a simple story by Clarke.

    I agree with this article. In 2001 aliens, not God, give humanity immortality and transcendence.

  2. One of my favorite movies! Spot on in your analysis by the way.