Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
2001 Impressions 2014
Part of Lise’s HAL’s Birthday Watch
“It’s origin and purpose, still a total mystery.” – Dr. Heywood Floyd
State of mind. 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. Clean, sober, juiced with caffeine, and craving nicotine.
As many of you know, 2001 is my favourite film and I’ve watched it dozens and dozens of times since I first saw it back in 1968 at the tender age of 9 years old. Throughout that span my interpretation has evolved. I’ve changed my interpretation of some critical points over the years, but generally it’s been a progression. I’m pretty happy with my interpretation last year, and it’s my real interpretation, but it would be pretty boring to just copy and paste that one again with maybe one or two small changes. Last year when my LB friend ShowBill asked just that question it set my mind to thinkin’. Maybe I’ve been looking at 2001 all wrong over the years.
I remember after seeing it for the first time, I questioned whether the monolith was good or evil. I subsequently decided that it was good, and that’s the way it has stayed ever since. Maybe that’s not the only interpretation. What if the monolith, and what it represents, is evil? I’ve read a few early impressions reviews from this year’s watch, and it rather shocked me that ‘fear’ came up on more than one occasion.
The Walk-In Music
I’ve always thought of it as out-worldly, but when you actually listen, and try to put yourself in the place where you’re hearing it for the first time, it’s actually rather creepy and freighting. Mr. Ligeti isn’t exactly an ‘inviting’ composer. At the very least, it’s unnerving.
Balance. Lightness and Darkness. One can’t exist without the other; yet they are always fighting for dominance.
The Dawn Of Man
Again, balance. There is an order, and it’s the order of nature. Life isn’t easy, but it’s natural. While there is violence, there is also peace and harmony. Like the leopard, dark and light.
Man meets the Monolith
Temptation. Is the monolith the snake in the garden of Eden, and the tool the apple? Hovering over the monolith is the sun. The choice is there. The power behind the monolith must know that temptation is irresistible, and that tasting the apple will not only throw mankind out of the garden, but also lead to a drastic change in man himself.
The first act after discovering the tool is the killing of animals. Is the taste of the apple that leads to the taste for blood? Once the blood lust is instilled, what does mankind turn on next? Himself.
The monolith knows that there is now a chain of events that have been irreversibly set into motion. The division, the competition, the race. All it has to do now is lie and wait. Lie and wait for the victor.
Journey to the Moon
We now see the tribal hunter refined. Strategy is key, and a key strategy is lying. Keep your enemy deceived, keep them off balance. Make them afraid. Fein co-operation while doing everything you can to keep them in the dark. You must win the prize.
Don’t trust anyone, not even your closest allies. Make them promise. Make them sign their promises. Keep them close; explain how it’s for the greater good.
The second encounter with the Monolith
One tribe has made it past the post. One tribe has won the round. One tribe will advance. The path is shown. Although the sun counters the darkness, darkness is irresistible.
HAL and The Odyssey
Survival of the fittest. Man may think he’s on the final leg to collect his prise. He’ll gain the ultimate knowledge, he’ll advance, maybe even he’ll become immortal. He just has to get there. Man doesn’t realize that the monolith knew of his ego way back at their first encounter. The monolith knew that man would create the ultimate tool. Maybe it’s the ultimate creation of man is what the monolith is after. Maybe it’s the ultimate final completion that it craves.
HAL knows of the mission. HAL knows that it will lead to contact. Maybe HAL thinks that he’s the one who should advance. The Odyssey becomes the final test, the final battleground. The final proof of worth.
Again, the battle between corporal man and cybernetic man is fought with lies. HAL lies about the AE35 unit as a way to lure corporal man out into the black. Corporal man lies about their plans to kill. In the end it’s a battle of wits. In the end, it is lost because of vanity and ego. HAL just thought he was too smart to be outsmarted.
Beyond the Infinite
Corporal man has won the prize. What is the prize? Being dragged down to the gates of hell.
Hell is where man has to face himself. Face what he’s become. Day in and day out. Alone.
In the end another choice is given. Again man gives into temptation.
And it all begins again.
Much to the amusement of the monolith.