2001: A Space Odyssey is all about food

The films of Stanley Kubrick are frustratingly brilliant. Two of them in particular, The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey, are the perfect combination of mass-market appeal and arthouse-confusing. They’ve both inspired countless conspiracy theories over the years.

If you haven’t seen either, strap yourself in. The best way to watch these movies is as if you were in the theater: darkened room, no distractions. Both are ponderously slow and angeringly abstruse. Watch the film, ask someone else what the -bleep- that was you just watched, sit on that information for about a week. Then watch again and maybe you might begin to understand what’s happening.

2001 in particular is a film that would have been perfect for our modern era. It’s so intellectually dense, the internet could feast on it for weeks. Of course, the internet has been feasting on this film for decades, but just imagine the nerdgasm if it had come out today.

Personally, I think that this film has a lot to do with evolution, with embracing the inherent truth of change. But I admit that there are loose ends that don’t support that philosophy, and Stanley Kubrick wasn’t know for leaving loose ends. Everything in his films was there for a reason, and if there’s something that doesn’t fit my theory, it means there’s at least one more theory out there that does fit.

On this slow Fun Friday, I give you this theory first posited over a decade ago on an incredibly bland-looking web site. The monolith is a candy bar, because the whole movie is about food. Every major event in the film is preceded by eating. This author does a fairly credible job of tying food into every aspect of the film. His theory may not explain 100% of everything but it’s interesting how it brings to light things you never really thought about. For example, why is there no cake on the Discovery? That couldn’t have been an accident.

There’s even the very interesting counter-argument to my evolution theory. When we first see the world of the year 2001, everyone is eating sludge through straws. By the film’s final minutes, however, we have evolved/devolved back into eating real meals using real silverware. Certainly this is not something that Kubrick put in by accident. Remember the slow, prodding pace of Bowman’s meal scene? You know you were waiting for something to happen while you were forced to watch it. This couldn’t be a coincidence; as I said Kubrick didn’t deal in those.

What are your thoughts? You read all the way down to the bottom of this article. That means you must have some, so comment away!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.