Since this film was released in 1968, hundreds of thousands have flocked to see this film. It is without doubt one of the great cinematic classics of all time. What is really extraordinary, though, is the fact that the film leaves most people perplexed as to its actual meaning, especially the last half hour.
Stanley Kubrick was very interested in human society, as is evident from all his other films. For example, "A Clockwork Orange" asks the question, how can evil be eradicated in modern society? "Doctor Strangelove" is about the struggle between good and evil on a global scale and "Eyes Wide Shut" raises the issue of mind control. In 2001, as in "Eyes Wide Shut", every scene is filled with hidden meaning.
The film dramatically opens with a lunar eclipse. The shot is taken from behind the moon so that we see the earth coming out from behind the moon and the sun coming out from behind the earth. The soundtrack is Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra". It is a great moment. At once, Kubrick is drawing our attention to Nietzsche and his deep philosophical ideas concerning man and his struggle for consciousness.
These planetary positionings hold the key to understanding the structure of the film. The film can be divided into four main chapters. The beginning of each chapter is an initiation heralded by a cosmic event. This is the beginning of the first of four chapters or initiations.
After the magical solar introduction, the scene is a sunrise from the point of view of Earth. Here we have the Dawn of Man. We see the first ape men whose main preoccupation in life is survival. They have very limited knowledge of their environment. It is a dark forbidding world.
Above: Notice the interesting pattern of this
picture. We have the black piece of masonry shot
at such an angle that it forms the shape of a
truncated pyramid. On the apex of this truncated
pyramid, the sun rises. This forms a familiar
symbol... a slightly similar one can be found
on the back of the dollar bill, except the eye
on the back of the dollar bill is here replaced
by an ascending sun.
The next day all this is going to change. After another dawn the ape men are confronted by a strange, black, stone monolith. It has perfectly straight edges, smooth surfaces and stands about 12 feet high. This encounter has a spiritual significance and to help us identify this Kubrick fills our ears with Ligeti's "Requiem" and "Lux Aeterna". The ape men are afraid; they grunt and jump around but the leader of the ape pack draws closer to this object. With foreboding he reaches out towards the object but with apprehension he withdraws.
The music becomes more ethereal and slowly, overcome by his curiosity, he reaches out again, this time he makes contact, touching its smooth surfaces. This is as sensual as the film ever gets, for as soon as he touches it, Kubrick cuts to a shot of the monolith lying directly under a mystical moon. This time there is a solar eclipse. This moment is so crucial for two reasons. Firstly, the alien entity, which, for a moment was so intimate with the primitive man, withdraws away to a remote location. How devastating; it is almost like putting a toy into the hands of an infant, then just when the child's curiosity gets aroused, the adult takes it away. The monolith has communed with man and withdrawn itself without any by or leave. What the significance of the exchange was is a mystery. Secondly, we are left in no doubt that the exchange was of the most profound nature. This is indicated by one of the greatest phenomena in nature; a solar eclipse. Kubrick is telling us that the monolith and the solar alignments are directing our destiny.
In the next scene we see the ape man leader in amongst a pile of bones and he realizes that the bone can be used as a tool and as a weapon. This is as a direct result of the intervention of the monolith. Kubrick has made this quite clear by the way this event occurs immediately after the previous scene. To the dramatic strains of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", the ape man suddenly realizes that he can use the bone as a weapon to kill. It is the dawning of a new age for man.
In the following scene, the ape men are no longer foraging for vegetation, instead they are eating raw meat. The animal probably killed by the bone club. This is a horrid scene. We leave this chapter of the film with our ape men getting involved in a confrontation with another group of ape men. The ape man leader kills the leader of the other group with the bone club, killing him on the spot. The other ape men come forth and proudly pound their bone clubs on the body of the victim.
Kubrick is telling us in vivid terms that what we have witnessed here was an abhorrent act of murder. The leader of the ape men victoriously throws his club up into the air. Instantly, the bone is transformed into the spaceship and in so doing he implies that the whole of human history is meaningless. All the wars, births, deaths, celebrities, declarations, civilizations are all completely irrelevant. By jumping millions of years, we are left in no doubt that Kubrick estimates the monolith and the effect it had on the ape men, and what is about to happen in the rest of the film, to be more important.
The second chapter of the film is quite different to the first. We are now in the space-age future. Strauss's "Blue Danube" is playing and we see an American spaceship spinning in space on its way to the moon. Kubrick seems to be celebrating advanced technology but this is only a whim of fancy. Inside the space ship is a lonely character called Heywood Floyd. He and his colleagues are completely without emotion, they seem so lifeless and pitiful. The green pastures and blue skies of home are left behind and the inhabitants of the space station have become like the computers and machines that they operate. For the next two hours of the film there will only be sterile environments and a tightly trapped mind in an infinitely large universe.
Returning to the film, the spaceship lands on the moon and Floyd gives a strange speech telling his audience that they must keep what they have discovered on the moon a secret. The implications of their find could cause great problems for the citizens of earth. He tells the scientists and military in his audience that people on earth will have to be "conditioned" to accept what it is they have found. Floyd drones on about why it is so important that they should "spin" a cover story. Basically, they should say that an epidemic has broken out at the American moon base.
What is revealed in this scene is the utter contempt the military commanders hold for us. This ploy is done so deftly that it is not even considered much by the audience. Everyone in the room nods their head in approval without considering the implications of what they are really doing.
In the next scene we discover what they have found. We are taken on a tour of the moon in a moon bus. It is dark but the sun is beginning to appear over the horizon. Again, the men involved here are humourless, lifeless and soulless and the men eat revolting food as they discuss the importance of the most important discovery in all the history of humanity.
A magnetic survey of the moon has revealed that something was giving of an anomalous reading just below the surface of the moon. It has been dug up. They discover that the object giving off the anomalous reading is in fact a black monolith. When we actually see it, we find that it is the same one that appeared to the ape men at the beginning of the film. Kubrick does not tell us who buried it there or why.
As the men robotically stand in front of the monolith to have their photographs taken the sun rises over the horizon (the picture to the right is taken sometime before the eclipse). The light shines on the black monolith possibly for the first time since it has been buried, possibly 4 million years ago. As the rays of the sun strike the monument it gives off a piercing signal. If you look into the distance you will see that the earth is being eclipsed in darkness. A lunar eclipse is taking place at the exact moment that the monolith begins to give off its signal.
Although we are not told why this monolith is buried here we can be sure that the government knew about it, hence the mission to the moon to uncover and inspect it by the military and whoever placed it here obviously had hopes that humanity would one day have the technology to go out and discover it. We can also assume that it was placed on the moon by the same intelligence that created the encounter between the monolith and the ape men.
The third chapter of the film now begins unfolding. It's title, "The Discovery Mission to Jupiter - 17 months later". Each chapter ends with the monolith changing the direction not only of the story line but of the human race too.
Without explanation, we are on this ship, on its way to Jupiter, with two astronauts, David Bowman and Frank Poole. The other crew are hibernating in sealed capsules. The two astronauts, David Bowman and Frank Poole, are even more lifeless than the men on the moon. There is, though, a third "living" entity onboard the ship and this character actually does seem to have a soul, or at least the beginnings of one! He is HAL, the onboard computer that runs the ship. It is strange but the two astronauts never even wonder or question the purpose of the trip.
Above: HAL's Eye
Dave and Frank go about their chores serving the ship, collecting data and playing chess. Kubrick was a keen chess player. The movie takes up a game just before Frank loses to HAL, the computer. It appears that Frank has played into a trap set by HAL. HAL has baited Frank into moving his queen over into HAL's queen rook area. The only other piece that Frank has developed is a knight, which appears to have been baited by HAL's pawns from the king side of the board to the queen side. All of Frank's other pieces are undeveloped, which in chess is equivalent to "hibernation". HAL has focussed on the development of his own pieces towards Frank's king. With Frank's queen and knight conveniently out of the way, busy capturing pawns, HAL is able to checkmate Frank. The activity in the chess game appears remarkably similar to what is going on in the mission. Most of the humans are hibernating. HAL baits both Frank and Dave out of the ship pursuing relatively minor problems with the AE35, while he (HAL) continues on with his plan of taking over the mission by killing all the crew members and locking Dave out.
In the first scenes of the movie, the "Dawn of Man", Kubrick made a point of showing us a tiger sitting over the carcass of a zebra. In this scene the eyes of the tiger were glowing, probably because the tiger was looking into the setting sun. The ape-men were hiding in their cave and could hear the roar of the tiger not to far away and they were fearful. Why did Kubrick show us these scenes, were they just poetry?. As a perfectionist, Kubrick planned and agonised over every scene and so they are all important and should not be discarded by the viewer. Later in the movie, HAL is portrayed by a glowing camera lens. I have noticed that in real life camera lenses don't glow, so why did Kubrick choose to portray HAL with glowing eyes? Kubrick is making a link here between the predatory tiger and HAL. HAL is a predator. If HAL had succeeded he would have been just like the tiger, glowing eyes sitting over the carcasses of the dead crew members in Discovery.
All the shots show HAL as a glowing eye inside a monolith shape in the brain room (see picture above). The implications are astonishing and profound. 2001 is about evolution, and HAL appears to be the next stage in evolution after man. But where does evolution lead from HAL? To the monolith itself! HAL is still a predator, the destroyer of life, but as we saw with the ape men and later at the end of the film with the birth of the star child, the monolith without the glowing eye is the creator of new life, the bringer of the next step in evolution! It appears that the evolutionary path from organic life, to computer, to monolith is one possible evolutionary path.
The HAL 9000 did not in fact fail but was only acting under programming to ensure that above all else the mission was to carry on to Jupiter at all costs. HAL was given details of the true purpose of the mission, which was withheld from the crew.
This part of the saga ends with Dave "murdering" HAL, as its circuits are shut down, one by one, while it garbles out a the song "A Bicycle Built for Two". It is only after HAL dies that Dave discovers the real reason for the Jupiter mission. A video of Heywood Floyd comes onto a TV screen as HAL dies. The tape was made for the astronauts for when they were to come out of hibernation. Now that all the hibernating astronauts are dead, it is only Dave who gets the message. According to Floyd, the reason for the mission was to find out why the monolith was emitting the strange signal towards Jupiter.
On one hand, Kubrick wants us to know that the forces behind the monolith are not good because it was responsible for all those killings and on the other hand, he wants us to know something quite different. He is also telling us that the monolith is a great spiritual gift and beneficial to our evolution. There is a strange juxtaposition going on here. We have an outside force broadening our limited view of reality that we previously had. What he seems to be saying here is that it is not the monolith itself that is bad but the forces that are in control of it. The monolith is 99% truth and 1% poison and that poison is powerful enough to destroy millions of times over. It is only because humanity has been negligent and in some cases wilfully so, that it has had to go to hell and realize the power of the Divine in order to find redemption.
The monolith is totally synonymous with the philosopher's stone, also known as the "Holy Grail", or the "White Pebble" that is spoken of in Revelation. It promises the seeker total gnosis and immortality of the soul. The monolith does deliver on both of these promises as we shall see before the film finally ends. There is also little doubt that Kubrick knew this all the time; it isn't accidental in anyway. Kubrick is actually telling us that the monolith is the film, and conversely, the film is the monolith.
As we venture into the new millennium, mankind has accomplished much but at what cost? Kubrick is content to show that the cost of failing to understand the gift of the monolith and instead pursuing a materialist, technological dream, is our souls generally speaking. When the ape man threw the bone up into the sky that was the last time that we saw any part of nature again in the film. From then on Kubrick shows us the antiseptic hospital like future, implying that this is the end of the trail that the bone weapon began four million years ago.
Kubrick was not predicting that initiations would come by a literal mission to the moon or Jupiter. The mission to the moon and Jupiter is simply psychology portrayed as symbols, in this case science fiction. This is why the last 25 minutes of the film seems so weird to the uninitiated. The last stretch of the film takes place wholly inside the human mind. In a way, we all have the potential to be Dave Bowman.
Chapter four begins with the ominous, psychedelic music of Gyorgy Ligeti's 'Atmospheres'. We are deep in space now. Again the entire ordeal of the astronaut Bowman, and what he must have had endure, all alone in the depths of space after the death of Poole and the other three astronauts, is dispensed with as being unimportant. Bowman is now Odysseus, like the title assumes. Like Odysseus, Bowman must go as far away from home as is possible. He must face monsters and experience things that he does not understand. All of this must be done before he can return home. Earth, or home, is a long way off now. Bowman is just following orders and he must now investigate the strange monolith that is circling Jupiter. Like Odysseus, Bowman will be transformed by this voyage beyond all recognition. When, and if, he does return, Bowman will be the wisest of all - for he was the one brave enough to enter the waters of eternity and come back home to tell us about it.
As Bowman leaves the Discovery for the final time Kubrick cuts straight to a montage of shots of the monolith. We are out on the edge of the Jupiter system, the Discovery is a small and tiny aspect of what we can see on the screen. The moons of Jupiter, like the moon and sun before, are aligned in a mystical and awe-inspiring way. The monolith appears ominous as it floats among Jupiter and her moons. The dance that is now taking place is a majestic, incredible ballet between the monolith and the celestial bodies of the Jupiter system.
It is interesting to note that Kubrick had originally planned for the planet in the film to be Saturn but the special effects department could not make the rings look realistic enough. Kubrick then abandoned Saturn for the easier-to-create Jupiter.
Without one word being spoken for the rest of the film, Bowman leaves the Discovery. He begins to travel towards the floating monolith in one of the space pods. Bowman is the man who has travelled further away than any human that has ever lived. He is all alone - having been seemingly chosen by the monolith for the final initiation of the human race.
The dance of the celestial bodies and the monolith continues. Kubrick consciously has chosen Ligeti's music because it evokes a religious or spiritual feeling within the listener; he brilliantly juxtapositions this music with the sacred geometrical alignments of the monolith and the moons of Jupiter. The very last shot in this sequence is the monolith crossing at a ninety degree angle with the moons of Jupiter. At that moment the famous 'light show' sequence starts. The monolith is a gate that allows Bowman to witness the infinite. He is the first man who has ever experienced the truth of the monolith and what it has to offer.
Bowman first falls through a web of geometry's and colours. The universe is passing by at light speed and it has become porous and blended together. Seven octahedrons - all changing colour and form - appear over the sliding universe. The core of a distant galaxy explodes. A sperm cell-like creature searches for something; an ovary? A cloud-like embryo is forming into a child. Now, alien worlds fly by, all of their colours and hues gone wild. Bowman is experiencing overload and looks like he might not be able to handle the amount of information that is being given.
This is the cinema audience's initiation. Bowman is our representative in this process. He is the first man through. In this experience of passing through the monolith, or the single stone, Bowman is shamanicly transformed by a completely psychedelic experience. Real information is being passed to Bowman by the monolith. This information is experiential and shamanic.
Finally the scene ends in the strange hotel room. This is the mysterious ending that Stanley struggled to shoot. The set is that of a both modern and baroque French-style room with, startlingly, modern lighting coming up through the floor. This is no normal hotel room. The light just seems to glow out of the bottom of the scene causing everything to carry this numinous, incandescent quality to it. There are weird voices on the soundtrack that are laughing at Bowman. The uncomfortable feeling of incomprehension encourages us to look to physical features for familiarity; something solid to grasp onto. Kubrick does not offer us this. This ambiguity heightens our sense of curiosity.
Bowman goes through three series of transformations during this scene. He gets older with each transformation. Dave’s environment, the decorated white room, becomes a metaphor for the human body. The body, Dave Bowman, becomes a metaphor for the human mind. At the beginning of the scene, as Dave taps into a new level of consciousness, he is initially shocked. This can be seen by the alarming contrast between the red space suit Dave initially wears and the near pure white background. As Dave begins to accept his surroundings, we can see his body ‘age’ rapidly: the mind is maturing. On a different level, this also offers to us the idea that the mind is the only constant throughout life: while the tangible body ages and decays, the spirit remains the common denominator that makes each and every one of us an individual. It has been suggested that this is the essence of humanity.
The room, which remains completely static and has no windows or doors can be seen as a container, and in this way likens itself to the human body, the container of the human mind throughout life. The room itself appears highly constructed and artificial, an indicator of physicality. In some cases this can be seen to represent pretentiousness and vanity. On the other hand, the elements, namely the artwork, tiles and furniture, that make up the contents of the room appear to indicate a myriad of human achievements spanning centuries and continents. High technology, a yearning for innovation, human creativity, classical architecture, cleanliness, calculated precision and high art are just a few elements that spring to mind; factors which distinguish the human race from the rest of the animal kingdom. Already the viewer has received a universally positive statement, whether or not they are aware of it on a conscious level..
The glowing tiles which line the floor of the room are symbolic of technology, the future and humanity’s yearn for innovation. The combination of geometric lines, the definition of the x, y and z planes and bright white light give an impression of calculation, purity and precision: elements that are synonymous with high technology. It is known that bright cross lighting, used throughout this scene, can be incredibly revealing and in most cases can expose blemishes and imperfections in the set. In combination with the white walls, ceiling and floor, it can be seen that this set achieves nothing short of perfection, another reason to suspect a shift of reality.
The glowing tiles also serve as a source of high contrast to the artworks and old furniture situated throughout the room. Here the viewer is introduced to the featured colour: green. Green universally represents harmony with nature and the environment. The choice of green as a featured colour softens the intensity of the geometry of the floor tiles. If, for example, were blue used as a substitute, the room could risk appearing overly clinical, perhaps too futuristic, which would emphasize a reliance on technology. The furniture itself appears to be sophisticated and stylised, as though it came direct from an upper class nineteenth century western European home. This furniture implicitly suggests the idea of human sentimentality and an appreciation for the old and the aesthetic. The artworks which appear to be in the renaissance style put forth this idea also.
Once Bowman accepts the mental transition, he begins to indulge himself. On one level we can see Dave begin to eat, on another he begins to consider his place in evolution, thinking, examining, progressing, evolving, and spiritually maturing.
When Dave’s wine glass smashes we see that it is time to move on. This action has been likened to the Jewish tradition of breaking glass at a wedding ceremony: a symbol of great change occurring. Stanley Kubrick himself is Jewish, which makes this parallel plausible. Aware of the Jewish tradition or not, the sight and sound of broken glass alone in the controlled environment holds enough contrast to shock us into thinking that change is about to occur. Dave is thereby about to enter the new level of conscious existence.
Finally, right after the scene where Bowman breaks the wine glass, the monolith appears again for the last time. Bowman is in the bed now and he is extremely old. He stares at the monolith, the single stone that stands like a huge stone book at the foot of his bed.
He raises his hand and points at the stone monolith as if he finally understands. Slowly his aged body begins turning into a bright glorious light. The light is so intense that, for a brief moment, the viewer can't see what is going on the bed. But, momentarily, something does appear. It is an embryo with a nearly-born foetus in it. This is the famous Starchild.
The Starchild comes more in focus. In the next shot Kubrick tracks his camera into the very body of the monolith - coming from the direction of the bed. He is showing us that the Starchild has entered into and passing through the monolith. In the very next scene - which is the last scene in the movie - the Starchild is passing the moon and is heading towards the Earth.
The Starchild looks down at the earth as the 'World Riddle' theme plays from "Also Sprach Zarathustra". This is the third time that we have heard this theme. And this will be the last time. In the book, that the screenplay by Kubrick and Clarke was based on, the Starchild looks at the earth and thinks "there was a lot of work that needed to be done."
It is important to note that the Starchild model was made to look like Keir Dullea, the actor who portrayed Bowman. Kubrick is saying that this child is a reincarnated Bowman.
So what is this all about anyway? Bowman's realization that he is trapped is made symbolically by Kubrick with the breaking of the wine glass. Even after all that he has been through Bowman still makes mistakes.
His own fallibility thrusts the scene towards its climax as the old man dies on the bed and sees the monolith for the last time. The Great Work of the stone is complete. There is now a man, a human, who understands the greater universe. This man also understands that he is trapped in a jail that his own consciousness has designed. With the realization of his own fallibility, and his own trapped spirit, he is finally liberated from the realm of the hotel prison, or the world of illusion. In that instant he understands what the book of stone is trying to tell him. He lifts his hand in a gesture of understanding. And in that moment he is transformed - without dying - into the Starchild.
Bowman goes through three stages of transformation in his life at the end of the film. The 'World Riddle' theme also plays three times.
In the end, Kubrick is saying, Bowman realizes that life would be completely meaningless if it were not for the intervention of the monolith, or the stone. He realizes that he himself could not be transformed without the assistance of an outside intelligence, a God if you will. This film director has made the ultimate religious movie. It single handily outdoes all of Hollywood's wooden, superficial homage's to the spirit and religion. Kubrick is taking this religion very seriously and he conveys that in every way. Kubrick has simultaneously taken the viewer through the history of humanity.
Everyone who saw the movie sensed that it was saying something of immense importance. Even if they could not say or know what it was and Kubrick probably knew what he was doing at every step of the way.
Finally we get to Kubrick's ultimate trick. He proves that he knows exactly what he is doing with this trick. His secret is in plain sight. First one must remember that every time the monolith, the magical stone, appears in the film there is a strange beautiful celestial alignment happening. And one must remember that every celestial alignment in the film is followed by a monolith, that is, except for one. That would be the lunar eclipse that occurs at the very beginning of the film. So the question arises - if we are to stay within the rules that are prescribed in the rest of the film - where is the monolith that is supposed to follow that first alignment?
The monolith itself doesn't show up in the film for more than ten minutes after the first celestial alignment - so what gives here? Is Kubrick just showing off his incredible special effects? Is it just there to impress the viewer from the beginning? These things may very well also be true, but the ultimate trick of Kubrick's is embedded in the idea that the monolith must appear after every one of these magical alignments. Once again, the secret of the film is completely revealed from the beginning. There is a monolith that appears right after the opening sequence with the magical, lunar eclipse. But where is it? It is right in front of the viewer's eyes!
The film is the monolith. In a secret that seems to never have been seen by anyone - the monolith in the film has the same exact dimensions as the Cinerama movie screen on which 2001 was projected in 1968. This can only be seen if one sees, or rents, the film in its wide-screen format. Completely hidden from critic and fan alike is the fact that Kubrick consciously designed his film to be the monolith, the stone that transforms. Like the monolith, the film projects images into our heads that make us consider wider possibilities and ideas. Like the monolith, the film ultimately presents an initiation, not just of the actor on the screen, but also of the audience viewing the film. That is Kubrick's ultimate trick. He slyly shows here that he knows what he is doing at every step in the process. The monolith and the movie are the same thing.
The black, single stone becomes the container of creation. It is, in a way, a cubed brick!
Is this another trick of Stanley's, who's last name (Kubrick, Cubed-Brick) mirror's that concept so clearly? This black stone of creation is also one of the main features in the Islamic religion, where a black meteorite sits near the Kaaba, or cube of space, in the Arabian city of Mecca. Kubrick has combined these many deeply held spiritual traditions and symbols and refashioned them into the monolith, or stone, that is constructed in the same dimensions as the movie screen on which it will be projected.
Above: Mecca and the Kaaba of Islam
In ISLAM, the Kaaba is the most sacred sanctuary, the centre of the Muslim world and the chief goal of pilgrimage. It is a small building in the Great Mosque of Mecca, nearly cubic in shape, built to enclose the Black Stone, the most venerated Muslim object. The Kaaba was a pagan holy place before Muhammad and many legends surround its origin. Tradition says that the Kaaba was built by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham and the descendants of Noah. Pre-Islamic Meccans used the Kaaba as a central shrine housing their many idols, most notable of which were al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat, collectively known as al-Gharaniq or the Daughters of God, and Hubal, a martial deity. The black stone inside the Kaaba was also worshipped, by veneration, before the advent of Islam. Non-believers are forbidden to approach it. Muslims face the Kaaba when praying.
The Black Stone, possibly of meteoric origin, is located at one of the Kaaba's outside corners. As a heavenly relic, this stone is venerated and ritually kissed. Worn hollow by the centuries of veneration, the stone is held together by a wide silver band.
The Black Stone inside the Meditation Room of the UN
Inside the United Nations, in the reception hall, just to the right of the reception desk, is a small room, open to the public, called the Meditation Room and in the middle of this room is a big black altar made of iron ore - it is called, "The Stone of Light".
In 1953, Dag Hammarskjold was appointed Secretary General of UN. By all accounts Hammarskjold believed he had an appointment with destiny. He was driven to turn the UN's vision of justice and decency, peace and unity into reality. A member of the Swedish government, he was one of the world's greatest statesmen. Secretly, he was one of its greatest mystics. His journal Markings (Dag Hammarskjold Markings - New York, Alfred E. Knopf, 1967), which he wanted read and published after his death, portrays his obsession with himself as a Christ figure. As a knight of Christ, his holy writ, the UN Charter, charged him with leading humanity into a mystical connection with the universe. His placement of the foundation stone, or "stone of light", in the Meditation Room of the UN directly links him with the Grail mysteries.
This "stone of light" is a six-and-a-half ton rectangular block of iron ore. This massive black stone is polished on the top so that it brings forth a sheet of minute lights that shine like billions of tiny stars. It is a natural magnet emitting magnetic waves. This particular block was chosen from sixty chunks of iron ore from a Swedish mine before the right one was found. One wonders what it was about this particular stone that caught Hammarskjold's fancy.
Kubrick is revealing that he understands the Great Work. He is also, like Jesus Christ, warning us that there are dark powers more powerful than human beings, and that these powers are, at the present time, in control of this Great Work here on earth. Stanley Kubrick has truly made the Book of Nature into a great film. Using powdered silver nitrates, glued onto a strip of plastic that is then projected onto the movie screens of our mind, Kubrick has proven himself to be one of the ultimate esoteric artists of the late 20th century. The greatest works of art are attempting to achieve exactly what Kubrick is attempting here.
"Art saves the spirit of religion by recognizing the figurative value of the mythic symbols which the former would have us believe in their literal sense." - Richard Wagner