WTF happens at the end of 2001’s…

…1965 Original Script — Revised Draft? ; )

NARRATOR (con’t)

But despite their God-like powers,
they still watched over the
experiments their ancestors
had started so many generations

The companion of Saturn knew
nothing of this, as it orbited
in its no man’s land between Mimas
and the outer edge of rings.

It had only to remember and wait,
and to look forever Sunward with
its strange senses.

For many weeks, it had watched
the approaching ship. Its long-
dead makers had prepared it for
many things and this was one of
them. And it recognised what
was climbing starward from the

If it had been alive, it would have
felt excitement, but such an
emotion was irrelevant to its
great powers.

Even if the ship had passed it by,
it would not have known the
slightest trace of disappointment.

It had waited four million years;
it was prepared to wait for

Presently, it felt the gentle touch
of radiations, trying to probe its

Now, the ship was in orbit and it
began to speak, with prime
numbers from one to eleven,
over and over again.

Soon, these gave way to more
complex signals at many frequen-
cies, ultra-violet, infra-red,

The machine made no reply. It
had nothing to say.

Then it saw the first robot
probe, which descended and
hovered above the chasm.
Then, it dropped into darkness.

The great machine knew that this
tiny scout was reporting back to
its parent; but it was too simple,
too primative a device to detect
the forces that were gathering
round it now.

Then the pod came, carrying
life. The great machine searched
its memories.

The logic circuits made their
decision when the pod had fallen
beyond the last faint glow of the
reflected Saturnian light.

In a moment of time, too short to
be measured, space turned and
twisted upon itself.

Full script here.

That last sentence is where I’m confused.  As you may know, I love 2001 and the title was clearly clickbait.  Prior the passage above, the opening passage of evolution-through-violence is expanded upon, but largely follows the same story-arch with one very important exception: the monolith. in this case, it’s a cube, and at one point, randomly, it displays an image from the future of the hunters sleeping peacefully, and overweight, in a cave having eaten yet another incredible meal. there is focus on the spears and weaponry. then the cube ends.

everyone hasn’t developed (long-term) memory yet, so no one even remembers it happened.  but they dream about it, and fast-forward a year, and “Moonwatcher” (Moon, being key here), is the leader of a pack of early-humans that basically control everything. and yeah, in the film they are more apelike but in the script everything feels very human, even if it is said they are apelike.the rest of the movie is moreorless the same, until the ending.

the movie truly has a better flow, but there is some nice elaboration into just about everyone and everything. but the ending is basically different in that after bowman recovers order to the ship, we immediately cut to a normal-ship with a mission control transmission. we are now in a room with bowman and his superior, who shares with him a videotape, along with the knowledge of the mission; that hal was programmed, for the mission, to disobey his actual programming (which caused hal to both develop and suffer from neurotic fits, including the fear of being disconnected for the first time in his 10 year service history).

the ending of the script is a monologue that is overlain with the real-time passage of the discovery ship flying over to saturn, where another monolith is floating amongst the rings, a mile long, and as the ship approaches, the monologue gets crazy crazy deep. in a nutshell some form of not-human intelligent life existed millions of years ago and studied the universe as much as they could. they passed over all the gas planets, mars and made base camp on the moon. they studied and observed for a long time, then decided to tweak some evolutionary traits in all of the species so that the chance of a “MIND” would be created. i.e. they were coming along to help out as many species as possible evolve as fast as possible.

the mission, as explained by the videotape, was based around the discovery of life. it’s discovered that the buried monolith was sunlight-activated, and then the transmission eventually ends with a replay of bowman discovering the monolith (this time rectangular) on the moon, and it emitting shrieking noises. these noises are detectable on radar, by several earth-satellites in space, where it’s revealed they are directed to saturn.

as revealed by the opening monologue, the narrative is somewhat pessimistic / ‘scientific’, because as we saw, the early-humans were not experimented on. they were shown a vision of themselves in the future. this is important because it suggests that there might be some sort of loop, in which kubrick suggests we show ourselves our own future, a la interstellar. the only reason i say this is because the last line in the script is about time twisting and turning upon itself, just as the ship nears the monolith on saturn.

however, the monologue describes a very literal evolution of a not-human into something very intelligent, that invents a machine that ends up becoming more intelligent. after thousands of years of blissed-out machine-human harmony, humans accept the fact that they’ve been replaced, and feel good about their creation. then the machines end up doing the same thing, as they, themselves, realize a way to store information in quantum space; to float through anything at any level of scale, or speed off in any directly along particles of light. the deeper side of that, is that kubrick is literally proposing that the world around us could be filled with a very literal intelligence that we perceive to be “spiritual”.

regardless, this is explained, and then the monologue focuses back on the monolith on saturn, and how even though those early machines that existed during machine-only times (but not transcendental-only times), were only so involved. so when they were at earth and saturn, their technology was incredibly advanced, but not anywhere near the level to which they had advanced. but they still liked to watch over their forefather’s creations/experiments, out of genuine scientific pursuit.

so at the very end we have the ship approaching the somewhat-outdated monolith, floating amongst saturn’s rings. as it gets near, it blasts our radio waves in all forms to no affect. then there is a robotic probe sent down to investigate, which fails. it is only when the pod containing the mind and life of human (bowman), in which the monolith actually responds. think about this: earlier, the monolith only responded to sunlight (which was why it had been buried). in a similar sense, it needs some sort of power to active its million-year-dormancy — it’s bowman’s presence of mind that does the trick. the machine of the monolithic rectangle scans bowman’s memory.

or so it seems, because then bowman’s like ‘”im out”, and drives off once there is nothing else left to do, because it seems like the discovery couldn’t discover anything — and gave up (via:

The logic circuits made their
decision when the pod had fallen
beyond the last faint glow of the
reflected Saturnian light.)

So the pod, not the ship, but the pod is disappearing off… far off into the distance. then, and only then, has the somewhat-outdated monolith made its decision. and what is that decision??  what is the mystery behind the void?

In a moment of time, too short to
be measured, space turned and
twisted upon itself.

it could just be an ending statement, as if to say the entire events of the story unfold in such an infinitesimal space of time, compared to the script (and movie’s) theme of large passages of time and small, isolated moments of influence that spark evolution. it might just be saying that these events caused a self-awareness and stir amongst the stars, even if only briefly.

but what do you think happens at the end?

the hope in me, deep down, is that it has something to do with time loops and maybe even towards “you going back in time to help your own future” [a la interstellar], in which in this case, the monolith activates some sort of emergency protocol in which sets in motion the events of the beginning.

but i followed everything that happened in this script. it put things that weren’t so obvious into a proper context. the only time i felt a little confused was during the ending — an ending which obviously wasn’t used — but im still curious exactly what happened.

normally im very precise on my blog about my writing, but im letting go a bit for this one and just opening it up to y’all. this is my first and only draft — im sure there are errors — but i really wanna know what you think about this, because it’s all ive been thinking about since i read it.