Double Features: 2001: A Space Odyssey & A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Is it a coincidence that the endings of both 2001: A Space Odyssey and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence have confused people since these films were released? (I first wrote about that in 2001 here.) Thanks partly to Clarke’s novel it’s generally accepted that the room at the end of 2001 is created by aliens from the images in Bowman’s brain.
However, here’s what Arthur C. Clarke, co-creator of 2001, said about these “aliens” in an interview with Gene Youngblood published in Youngblood’s book, Expanded Cinema:
So perhaps the “aliens” of 2001: A Space Odyssey are in fact machines or “mechas.”
The ending of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is similar to 2001‘s in that the mechas recreate a room from David’s memories.
The mechas at the end of A.I. have been mistaken for “aliens” even by people who should know better.
For example, in an interview published in 2002 on urbancinefile.com, the interviewer asked Spielberg:
“Did you make a conscious decision to show the aliens looking all alike at the end of the movie?”
Spielberg’s answer was clear: “…they are not aliens…”
Here’s a clip on Youtube where he says the same thing:
What the interviewer should have asked was this:
“Did you make a conscious decision to show the mechas looking like aliens at the end of the movie?”
For example, why do they look so much like this alien in Close Encounters?”
Suppose that the resemblance to aliens is intentional. Suppose that the aliens in 2001 are in fact mechas. Suppose that the mechas/aliens in 2001 that plant the black monolith at the beginning of the film are from the future. That would mean that the mechas that were created by man in the worlds of both 2001 and A.I. evolve into mechas who create man. Perhaps they travel back into time to plant the black monolith, or perhaps they find other apes with which to conduct their experiment creating new homo sapiens. In either case, by combining 2001 and A.I. in this way we end up with a classic paradox: the human’s creations become the creators of the humans that created them.
I like how linking A.I. and 2001 in this way creates an alternative ending for A.I. without having to imagine changing a thing in that film. Read more alternative endings here.
More evidence that there may be a connection between the “aliens” in 2001 and mechas in A.I.:
At one point Kubrick and Clarke planned to show the aliens in 2001. According to Brian Johnson, special effects assistant on the film:
Stanley wanted something that was really different [for the aliens], but did not know exactly what. At one point he wanted something similar to a sculpture by Giacometti – humanoid in shape, but very thin and crooked. (Cinefex No. 85)