So, uh, what happens at the end?
BEST EXPLANATION: This much most fans, critics and experts can agree on: the monoliths are alien constructs, left behind by an ancient and advanced race. Theses slabs can accelerate development of less-evolved lifeforms, as it did with the apes on the African plains. And signal the arrival of advanced races, which happens, millions of years later, with the excavation of a monolith beneath the lunar surface. Oh, and Bowman is reborn as an alien.
As for the psychedelic light show? The Louis XVI bedroom? The wine glass that shatters on the floor? We’re as befuddled as you. Few films have proven as impenetrable (or so open to interpretation) as Stanley Kubrick’s SF masterpiece, still baffling audiences more than four decades after its release.
What’s rather interesting is how the film’s architects differed in their artistic intentions. Kubrick wanted the film to provoke thought—such vigorous speculation, he said, would be an “indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level.” Arthur C. Clarke, the SF legend who co-wrote the screenplay (after writing the novella on which the film is based) thought the film should defy comprehension: “If anyone understands it on the first viewing, we’ve failed in our intention.”
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