Today would be Stanley Kubrick’s 90th birthday, a director I love and respect very much, so I thought it would be fitting for my first ever blog to feature one of his best films, 2001 space odyssey, and also include my interpretation of the monolith found throughout the film.
The monolith, a featureless rectangular black slab, marks a pivotal change in evolution across the film. It is assumed to be something alien and ambiguous in terms of its purpose and origin, which under my interpretation is an enigma representing the complexity and absurdity of life, incomprehensible for a mere mortal to grasp. However, by noticing this void and ‘looking in’ (The great apes admire and touch the monolith), we are able to develop ourselves and gain greater skill and power just like these apes. After the great apes interacted with the monolith they were able to use a bone as a weapon and drive their competition away from their watering hole. This unexplainable phenomenon allowed the apes to utilise their potential, all they needed was an inspirational push for a eureka moment to form.
The complexity of life beyond human understanding is depicted in the ending scene, after the cosmic journey where Dr. Bowman finds himself in an unusual bedroom and sees progressively older versions of himself. The final version features him as an old dying man on his deathbed with the monolith at the end of the bed, implying, like Dr. Bowman with the monolith, we will always be searching for meaning and trying to understand the ‘monolith’ throughout our whole life’s. When the old Dr. Bowman tries to touch the monolith, he turns into a fetus which I interpret as it meaning as much as we try to understand the monolith and ‘life’, this concept it too complex for humans to truly understand and thus we are like a fetus/baby when it comes to trying to decipher it.
Even though we will never find the full answer, we must strive for seeking it and as a result the development that will occur will make us stronger and more powerful, just like the apes that learned to yield a bone as a weapon did. Without this ‘monolith’ we would have not evolved from the ape-man to space-man. The Monolith is a component within our own monomyth (hero’s journey). Embrace the unknown and as much as it may seem to be in vain, there will always be an outcome from the experience of curiosity that we can exploit for the betterment of ourselves.
About the author
Ollie joined the Acceler8 Training team a month ago and has now written a number of blogs for us. Keep watching for more. Way to go Ollie!