Anti-Technology in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey

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  • Topic: Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick, HAL 9000
  • Pages : 5 (1896 words )
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  • Published : April 29, 2010
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Director Stanley Kubrick once said in a Playboy Magazine interview, “…You are free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film – and such speculation is one indication it has succeeded in the gripping audience at a deep level…” (1). In his science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick declares that the viewers have the liberty to wonder about the films’ philosophical issues, such as the human condition – a science fiction characteristic. Science fiction is a fiction that incorporates a blend of scientific fact and imaginary elements and utilizes futuristic technology such as spacecrafts and robots. Two examples of technology used in Kubrick’s film are The Discovery spaceship and the HAL computer. They cogitate on what might happen in the future in our universe; hence it has some foundation in our reality. Science fiction stories take place where things are very different than Earth in a way that highly engages science or technology (Trietel). Science fiction stories also “…contradict some known or supposed law of nature” (Card 17). However, this is not the case for 2001: A Space Odyssey. There is conflict that when traditional items are not utilized, technology takes its place, which is disapproved of. Although science fiction stories include technology that opposes known laws of nature, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey uses the very technology it creates in three evolutionary stages: apes to humans, humans to machines, and machines to the Star Child, and removes the power of the dependence of technology by utilizing simple tools. The beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the first evolutionary stage: from apes to humans. A group of apes are seen scavenging for food, when a leopard attacks and kills one of the apes. In this scene, the apes show emotions of terror, curiosity, and courage. When the black monolith is presented to one of the apes, his curiosity and courage surmount his fear. At this moment, the lead ape “…wields the first primitive tool – a bone – extending his physical reach and allowing his mind to grasp the idea of function. Employed also as a weapon, the tool carries the idea of the destructions as well – a characteristic of Kubrikian irony” (Walker 164). All the apes learn to use this bone as both a weapon and a tool. This is an advantage for the apes in which they learn to kill animals with the bones and eat them. However, the disadvantages are displayed when the apes encounter a tribe competing for a water hole. The apes fight the tribe and kill their leader in this process. This shows one example of Kubrick’s irony, in which the use of this new “technology”, a bone, can be destructive in this evolutionary stage. When the apes gain control of the water hole, one of the apes, triumphantly, throws his bone into the air. The perspective changes as the bone is then depicted as a satellite, along with other few satellites. These satellites are recognized as orbiting nuclear weapons (Castle 2). This is a second example of Kubrick’s irony in which this scene foreshadows the disadvantage of futuristic technology, such as weapons of mass destruction. The bone as a tool is misused when it can also be used to kill – a weapon. The weapon is then advanced to higher technologies, so not only one can die, but more than one at the same time. The ape man figure is like that of a human’s; in addition to the way they think and act. Inside an ape, there is a human waiting to emerge once an ape’s intelligence advances (Kagan 148). Four million years later, in the year 2001, humans reach their highest peak of evolution. Humans have become so technologically advanced that the simplest things are not utilized anymore. Men are characterized as civilized, rational and scientific – very different from the apes. Aboard the spaceship Discovery One on a mission to Jupiter, are astronauts David Bowman and Francis Poole along with three scientists put...
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