Watch "2001: A Space Odyssey"

I watched the movies "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Interstellar" together, and after watching them, I felt dazed, as if several centuries had passed.

I had tried to watch the former many years ago, but I didn't finish it. It's hard for any ordinary viewer to accept such a movie—slow plot, few dialogues, unclear themes, no beautiful women...

But why is it considered a "great work"? After watching it, I personally think it's mainly because of the following points:

  • Forward-looking predictions;
  • Exploration of the grand theme of humanity's past and future;
  • Creative ideas and special effects that were ahead of their time in 1968;
  • Kubrick's charm, complemented by Arthur C. Clarke's novel.

What does it mean to make this movie in 1968? It means that while we were still smelting iron and steel, the director was already exploring space; it means that many directors were still making Hollywood-style films with fancy cars and beautiful women, while Kubrick was contemplating the future of humanity. It's like everyone in the martial arts world is fighting for martial arts secrets, trying to become the best, but Qiao Feng is thinking about how to use martial arts to bring peace between two countries. He's not even in the same dimension as the others. That's a true hero.

It's been praised too highly, let's come back to reality.

After watching this film, I was still confused, but I understood the general idea, and at the same time, I admired Kubrick's presentation techniques: like the bone transforming into a spaceship, HAL's profound gaze, calmly killing, and Bowman rapidly aging and evolving into a higher-dimensional being... It wasn't until I finished reading the novel that I fully understood the whole plot. I can't say I completely understood it, but at least I got the gist of it.

I don't blame the director for not understanding it. On this point, I agree with Clarke—Kubrick made it too mysterious, while the novel was too obvious.

2001: A Space Odyssey Poster

The movie assumes that human evolution is not a natural process, but rather inspired by some mysterious beings, known as the monoliths in the film. These mysterious beings possess advanced technology and are already highly civilized. The film and the novel do not explain where these mysterious beings come from or why they kindly inspire humanity. So, I guess there is a possibility that the beings who left the monoliths are actually future humans—just like in "Interstellar."

Inspired by the first monolith, humans evolve from animals into intelligent beings; guided by the second monolith, humans explore the vastness of space; pilot Bowman enters the super central station with the guidance of the third monolith and is received by friendly mysterious beings; finally, when the infant Bowman touches the fourth monolith, he evolves into a higher-dimensional being, just like the ape who touched the first monolith four million years ago. It completes an upgrade, or a cycle.

Isn't Kubrick and Clarke's idea of extraterrestrial beings inspiring humanity a bit far-fetched?

First of all, do extraterrestrial beings exist? The answer is definitely yes. The universe is so vast, there must be more than just Earth suitable for life. But have extraterrestrial beings visited Earth? That's hard to say. When I was a child, I was very interested in UFO reports and always believed that there must be UFOs somewhere in the world. As I grew older, most of those so-called UFO sightings could be explained by optical effects or human-made aircraft, gradually shaking my belief in the existence of extraterrestrial beings.

Illustration of the Japan Airlines Flight 1628 Incident

But there are still some events that are hard to explain, such as the famous Japan Airlines Flight 1628 incident, witnessed by multiple crew members who gave consistent accounts, and more importantly, the unidentified flying object was also detected by ground radar. It's difficult for either side to fabricate multiple eyewitness testimonies and radar detection. This is the most convincing aspect. If the captain's account is true, then in 1986, there was already technology far beyond what was available at that time. It clearly couldn't have been created by humans, which can only mean that extraterrestrial beings really exist and have visited Earth.

Unknown things are always fascinating. Science fiction movies are, after all, science fiction, based on scientific foundations but allowing for imaginative fantasies. In addition to fantasies, there are also philosophical reflections that add charm to movies and novels. I enjoy works like "Solaris," so naturally, I also enjoy "2001: A Space Odyssey."


Regarding movies and novels, I have recorded my book excerpts, thoughts, and the differences between the novel and the movie on my Telegram channel "集录轩". If you're interested, you can join the discussion there.

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