A Space Odyssey 2001 – Ending Explained & Plot Summary

2001: A Space Odyssey or 2001 Space Odyssey (1968) is an undisputed science fiction classic, and arguably the best science fiction film of all time about space exploration. By an interesting coincidence, it was released in the midst of the space race between the USSR and the United States. At the same time, when Apollo 11 was just planning to land on the moon (this happened a year later, on July 20, 1969). And then, when modern technologies have not yet sought to seep into all spheres of human activity, thus predicting the impact that they will have on our lives now.

Read also: The best films about space in which it really is

Background and explanation of the name “A Space Odyssey 2001”

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

The plot of “A Space Odyssey 2001” based on the story “The Sentinel” (1951) by the English science fiction writer Arthur Clarke. And the original title of the film sounded like “A Journey Beyond the Stars.” The change to the current original was due to the fact that the number “2001” denoted the first year of the new millennium and the next century. Three months after Odyssey’s debut, Arthur Clarke published a novel based solely on the film’s script.

Complete analysis of the plot of “A Space Odyssey 2001”

A Space Odyssey contains almost no dialogue. The first spoken word sounds after 30 minutes from the beginning, and for the whole film – less than 40 minutes of conversations. Most of The Odyssey takes place in dead silence (simulating the absence of sound in space) and contains many impressive images that characterize it (The Odyssey) better than any verbal dialogue.

The film consists of four episodes, with three main sections with subtitles:

Episode 1: Dawn of Man

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

About four million years ago, a tribe of prehistoric monkeys (Australopithecus) discovered a mysterious black monolith (First Monolith), which stands in a shallow rocky depression. The leader of the anthropoid clan reaches out to the monolith (a reference to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel) and encourages everyone else to do the same. Later, the effect of the touch inspires the humanoid to discover that the bone can be used as a weapon. The tribe begins to hunt and compete with other non-enlightened monkeys. “Enlightened” proto-people conquer dominance in the animal kingdom, establish their territorial possessions and make an evolutionary leap towards humanity. Or, nevertheless, from him?

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Episode 2: Moon Voyage 2000 (untitled in the film)

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

Four million years have passed – in 2000 (in honor of the German film by Fritz Lang “Metropolis” (1927), which was shown in the futuristic 2000), the bone thrown by the Australopithecus dissolves and turns into a white space satellite. People have conquered space, and now they fly to the moon, where a black monolith was discovered (Second monolith). Like the anthropoid apes before them, humans are delighted and excited. But with dawn (the end of a dark 14-day lunar night), the object emits a high-pitched electronic screech (signal) directed towards Jupiter. Thus, the second monolith signals that people have discovered it and can now reach a higher level of development.

Does this mean that man of both eras – Australopithecus and the humanoid of the 20th and 21st centuries – is essentially the same aggressive creature with wild impulses that successfully survived in a different hostile environment?

From the same episode, we can observe the first stage of the intrauterine reproductive lifestyle: copulation and conception. In the darkness of space, the pilots of the Pan Am spacecraft (phallic symbol) dock with a giant, circular, rotating space station (egg symbol).

Episode 3: Mission Jupiter, 18 Months Later (in 2001 or 2002)

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

In the third section of the film, people travel to Jupiter in order to trace the path of the radio signal and find out the origin of the aliens who hid the monolith on the Moon. Reproductive analogies continue. The spacecraft resembles a half-developed fetus floating in the amniotic fluid of space.

In addition to five astronauts (three of whom are in suspended animation) on board there is an artificial intelligence of the last generation – the HAL 9000 computer. It symbolizes the third great achievement of mankind, right after the bone and the conquest of space.

Astronauts are just cleaners and seem unnecessary for a fully automated mission. The spacecraft is indeed controlled by the “sixth crew member” HAL 9000 – a calm, alert, “thinking” and “feeling” supercomputer. People bored of the routine in deep space are completely dependent on the complex machine that drives their spacecraft. HAL possesses anthropomorphic, human-like qualities: a shining, alert red eye and a pleasant TV presenter voice (with a slightly malevolent tinge).

Soon, HAL, hiding the true purpose of the flight to Jupiter, begins to lie, and then kill the unsuspecting crew members. Dave Bowman, the only surviving astronaut, deactivates HAL and learns the true purpose of the mission.

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Episode 4: Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

In the last part of the film, Bowman completes his flight to Jupiter alone in the spaceship Discovery. It reaches the outer borders of the planet with its characteristic striped coloration and discovers a monolith (Third Monolith), which flies through space to the moons of Jupiter. Bowman leaves the spaceship in a shuttle and begins chasing him.

The pursuit of the monolith throws Bowman into another dimension. He moves along complex planes of multi-colored grids and rectangles. Deep space views intersect with close-ups of a man’s face. Astronaut sees nebulae, swirling gases, exploding constellations, bright stars, flaming skies, giant reproductive images of floating sperm, and expressionist-like picturesque, desert-like landscapes.

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

The astronaut’s capsule lands and finds itself in a semi-familiar environment created from his own subconscious memories – a light green and scorching white “space bedroom” (or ornate hotel room / Renaissance bedroom). There the hero lives four transitions from one body to another, which, for convenience, are separated by sounds (clicking, clattering a glass, grinding a chair) seeing himself:

  • trembling in a space capsule;
  • standing in the room (the camera shoots from the inside of the capsule);
  • dignified diners in a dark robe;
  • a bedridden 100-year-old invalid.

Bowman, lying on the bed, slowly and weakly reaches out a trembling hand to the mysterious monolith (the fourth monolith), which appears at the foot of his bed. The old man presumably dies and transforms into a translucent fetus. At this very moment, we hear an explosion of musical chords as a signal of a decisive transformation.

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

Bowman transforms into a fetus, after which he is reborn as a cosmic, innocent, revolving Star Child who can travel the universe without any technical assistance.

Read also: The best films about space in which it really is

A Space Odyssey 2001 ending explained

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

Bowman’s stay in the “space bedroom” can be explained by the fact that he is the only survivor of the mission to Jupiter, and therefore is under the close supervision of an unknown alien race, which sent monoliths to mankind. The four dark blocks can be described as something that at different times stimulated the mind of humanity to accomplishments. Well, the monolith itself is only a physical form of what, in fact, has no form.

The last monolith in Bowman’s room symbolizes the superiority of the human race over primitive (within the universe) tools (HAL computer) and the reward of rebirth.

The many reproductive allusions in the film – childbirth, pregnancy, childbirth and childcare – are further visualized throughout the final sequence. Alien beings help Bowman make fundamental symbiotic changes in consciousness and become superhuman. The end result of a space odyssey is the perfect human machine that took over four million years to build.

The meaning of the movie “A Space Odyssey 2001”

still from the film 2001: “A Space Odyssey”

Cyclic evolution from monkey to man, and from astronaut to superman is complete. It was also directed outward – from the unremarkable cave dwellings on Earth to the journey of the Moon. And from the solar system to the universe. The incomprehensible potential of humanity in the future inspires hope and optimism. What is the next stage of his cosmic evolution?

The last lines of the book reflect the same feeling: “Then he waited, collecting his thoughts and contemplating his still untested powers. For although he was the master of the world, he was not sure what to do next. But he will think of something. ”

Music from “A Space Odyssey 2001”

In order to maintain a balance between silence and visuals, the film is enriched with a stunning orchestral soundtrack, namely:

  • Richard Strauss “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”
  • Johann Strauss “On the beautiful blue Danube”, waltz
  • Gyorgy Ligeti “Atmosphere” “Lux Aeterna” and “Requiem” for soprano, mezzo-soprano, two mixed choirs and orchestra
  • Aram Khachaturian “Suite from the ballet” Gayane “
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