2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

6.40 am. Mildly sleepy.

Dawn of Man scene metaphor for imperialism

Things that support this:
Scene set in what strongly resembles Africa
Two identical tribes of apes quarrel over a piece of territory
Sporadic attacks from leopards
Only with new development in weapons can one tribe drive other away

What this means:
Physical resemblance of ape tribes is a metaphor for being white - emphasises triviality of colonisation
Leopard attacks represent disturbances from the colonised - portrayed as inconsequential and momentary

Monolith performs same function in each chapter - to advance human progress - but has different significance:
Dawn of Man: gifts used for military purposes - reflects primitive, instinctively violent nature
Moon and Jupiter: time between instances of contact with monolith short, showing heightened rate of progress
Both apes and Floyd’s party touch monolith, but this doesn’t happen in the following 2 chapters - some vague instincts carried over from prehistoric times gradually being shed
At end, older Bowman reaches out to touch it - evolution isn’t that fast

Second (moon) scene has no major apparent function other than to highlight contrast between man millions of years ago and man today

HAL says “Putting [himself] to the fullest possible use” is “all... that any conscious entity can ever hope to do” - instantly emphasises his ability to clarify purpose of humanity against that of nominal humans to do so

Doesn’t strike me that Bowman and Poole feel need to get rid of HAL because HAL himself is evil, but more because innate human impulses tell them to protect their sovereignty. Maybe it’s both? Maybe two are bound up in one another?

“This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it.” - could signify HAL as guardian of human destiny - humans need computers to remind us of the direction we’re supposed to take as a species?
Bowman destroys HAL despite latter’s protestations of honesty
Could show human prejudice - we can’t accept those different from us - if so, this is carried over from Dawn of Man

Room at the end encapsulates entirety of human existence

Things that support this:
Older Bowman eating a meal
Bed (and other furniture)
18th century interior design

What this means:
Human nature at its most basic involves washing, nourishment and sleep
We adorn this basic truth with “culture” and “progress”, but these are superfluous because nothing will ever alter what constitutes humanity and life

Happy birthday, HAL.

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