I just want to start off by saying I thought this was an incredibly weird movie. Nothing about it really makes sense the first time you watch it. Honestly, at the end I don’t think I’ve ever been more annoyed by a movie. I don’t think I can talk about this movie and not give the whole thing away so, just stop reading if you haven’t watched this and plan on it.
I think this movie is a perfect example of technogenesis albeit a very odd and quirky one. The first time watching this movie I couldn’t figure out what it was about. After a few watches I’ve come up with this. In the beginning we see a group of apes who are surrounded by this large obelisk that I will now refer to as the thing. After a while these apes are so mesmerized by the thing they end up messing with it. While an ape is messing with the thing something happens. It’s almost as if, like in many cartoons before it, a light bulb turned on above his head. He grabbed a fairly large bone and started smashing things with it. The monkey had made the first tool. And according to the movie the rest was all history. That was the moment man was born, the first time he used a tool.
I think it’s pretty interesting that this is how man is signified as evolving from an ape, when he uses his first tool. The writer of this story would obviously agree with the idea of technogenesis, in that technology and man’s evolution are one in the same.
The real question in this movie is what is the thing? Where did it come from, why is it here, and who did it? The thing as we see it is assisting the evolution of man. When the apes find it, they suddenly learn how to use tools. This event leads the apes down a path of technogenesis to become highly advanced humans. The main part of the movie follows Dave, an astronaut, on his journey. After finding another thing on the moon which is emitting a signal, Dave is sent to Europa, a moon of Jupiter to further investigate.
Once Dave is at Europa, after a few hiccups on the way, another event with the thing happens. There is another one on Europa and Dave goes through some transformation. He goes through a worm hole and is transformed into some weird star baby. So somehow the thing assists in the progression of human’s evolution.
The hiccup that Dave experienced on his way to Europa is with the computer that is on the spaceship. The computer named HAL is intelligent and what seems like self-aware. He gives Dave a notification that their navigator is broken. When Dave checks this with mission control they tell him otherwise and state that HAL is malfunctioning. Dave and a shipmate plan to disconnect HAL. Hal overhears this and plans on killing the whole crew. HAL decides that the mission objective is more important than the lives of the crew. I was originally going to write about this, but I decided to write about the thing since it was so relevant to technogenesis. Here’s a pretty famous video of HAL trying to kill Dave.