Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Truth

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There are so many different truths out there. People of different religions have different truths, and if philosophers ever agreed on any one thing, they'd be out of a job. Even scientists can disagree as to what their data means. It's the rabbit or duck scenario.

2001: A Space Odyssey provides no truth of its own. We never definitively learn what the monolith is about, or who the aliens are, or why they decided to make humanity's evolution their after-work hobby. Even by the end of the film, we're left questioning what the Star Child is exactly. Instead of revealing the truth, 2001 suggests that the important matter is the search for the truth. The film is populated with characters like the curious hominids and the adventurous Dr. Bowman. Like the characters, we may never receive a neatly wrapped answer, but the important thing is that we ultimately try. We're all seekers, according to Kubrick.

Questions About Truth

  1. Considering the monolith as a religious symbol, how do you see it revealing or hiding truth in the film? How does this affect your reading of this theme?
  2. How do you see Floyd covering up the truth in his story? How do you see him trying to uncover the truth?
  3. Does the film's ambiguity make it more or less appealing as a work of art?

Chew on This

The unseen extraterrestrials represent more of a religious truth than a scientific one, as they seem to exist outside of the natural world as we understand it.

The only character who potentially discovers the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is Dave Bowman, and he doesn't make the discovery until his death. This suggests that the truth will always be beyond our grasp as human beings.

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