Interpreting the Ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey


Not all videos on the internet need to be kittens falling asleep or trailer mashups. Rather, we can actually use them to think every so often.

For many movie fans, there is no film more cerebral than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like all of Kubrick’s films, there is much to analyze, and in 2001’s case, much to confuse the hell out of you the first time you watch it.

One of the most mind-bending parts of the movie is its seemingly nonsensical ending. But after much study, some fans have come up with their own theories as to what it all means. The above video offers one such explanation I found fascinating, and I thought I’d share it with you. Part 2 is below if you get all the way through this one:


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  1. A number of years back, I can remember having a debate with some fellow film buffs about whether or not 2001 actually meant anything (this was the question that was raised). The premise of the argument was that b/c there are so so so many wild interpretations to so so so many elements of the film AND Kubrick himself never wanted to spell out any specifics for any audience, the logical conclusion was that both the director and the studio had produced an end product that was entirely meant to have no meaning so that anyone viewing it at any time could interpret practically anything they wanted from the picture.

    Indeed, there have been so many conflicting ‘statements’ on what the film meant I’d have to still agree that’s most likely what Kubrick wanted as an end message: life has no meaning EXCEPT for its various interpretation in the form of art.

  2. You could read the book series, which answers everything.

    It’s seriously ridiculous this is still a mystery. You can also find the script online which explains everything.

  3. I have seem this film a few times and would not to analyze it because I think that any analysis would say more about my state of mind than anything the film could be about. but that’s just me.

  4. @Siahm: erm … maybe you haven’t watched the pieces above, but there’s a HUGE disconnect between the message of the film versus the book. As a matter of fact, I think I’ve read somewheres that both Kubrick and Clarke have stated for the record that neither the book nor the film share the same message.

  5. I understand that Kubrick altered the ending a bit. But the meaning of the monoliths, Bowman trips through them, and him as a baby are explained in the book series and script.

    You can analyze the movie as you like, but, it’s not as if there’s not answers out there.

  6. I have to say, I think the majority of the semiotic connections that are drawn here tenuous at best and have the flavour of being, largely, speculative gravy browning that one would add to bulk out a film school essay. Mind you – I guess that’s the beauty of interpretation.

  7. @Siahm: I’d encourage you to watch the piece, read the book, and see the film … then come back and TELL me how they’re not loaded with two entirely different endings. And, yes, if you look at what’s out there by both Clarke and Kubrick, then you know it’s deliberate on both their parts.

  8. The problem with these “answer” videos is that he’s trying to explain the ending in a vacuum when it isn’t necessary to do so.

    The movie script makes it crystal clear what the scenes are meant to convey, and in our day and age of internet the script is literally 5 seconds away for us to read.

    Taking away all context and disregarding the source material AND ignoring movie-script is not the way to go.

  9. Try Leonard Wheat’s 2000 book,Kubrick’s 2001;A Triple Allegory,showing all events and people are taken from the Odyssey and Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra-which also opens with sunrise and has the hero have an interrupted last supper,to this author,HAL=God,made in man’s image(beyond the infinite=beyond God)plus he’s the Cyclops.

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