2001: The Will


Having read Nietzsche's works, films like 2001: A Space Odyssey take on a different meaning.

In Thus Sprach Zarathustra, Nietzsche states that as Man overcame the Ape, the Overman overcomes Man, inviting the reader to question how they have overcome themselves.

The imagery of ape and man is the introduction of the film, in which a tribe of apes find themselves dispossessed of a watering hole they depend on. In the middle of their sleep, a monolith appears: an expression of will and the impending violent overcoming the apes will express ("pure energy," being the term used by Kubrick in describing the aliens).

An individual ape then proceeds to discover the violent potential of bones in using them as a weapon, as Strauss' song Also Srach Zarathustra plays over the events. The apes, using weapons, take back their territory and in celebration throw a bone to a sky: transitioning to a scene of a satellite orbiting Earth. in the original text from which this movie was adapted, Arthur C. Clarke states this satellite is carrying nuclear warheads.

In the future scenes of the movie, the arrival of a new monolith further foreshadows the attempted overthrowing of an old order of power punctuated by the violence against the human inhabitants of the ship by HAL.

HAL ultimately fails to assert himself fully, and the surviving crew member finishes the journey, discovering monolith orbiting Jupiters moon. Upon approaching it in space, he is drawn into an alternative dimension.

In this other dimension, the character finds himself observing himself aging and dying within white room. Recalling Nietzsche's notion of Eternal Return, in which individuals must evaluate their own lives from the standpoint of indefinite repeats of all their decisions: the crew member is trapped watching himself age and die in the isolation of a strange white room. He is recreated by these events, presented in the final scenes as a fetus, a "superman" in Kubricks words.

There are numerous influences on the film and the book, and there are numerous more examples of Nietzschean themes. Nietzsche's foresight and understanding has made him a timely influence on all things modern.