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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 23 | volume IV | October-November, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 23October-November, 2001
Gallery Reviews


How One Film-Reviews With a Hammer

p. 1
Donald MacGregor

   The opening of 2001:A Space Odyssey depicts the sun rising above a crescent Earth while the introduction to Richard Strauss' tone-poem, Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), plays. This music is meant to represent the wise man, Zarathustra, as he descends from a mountain to preach his gospel to the people. Only in this case, it is Stanley Kubrick coming to preach his gospel.
       Friederick Nietzsche's book, Also Sprach Zarathustra, upon which the Strauss tone-poem is based, presents the idea that mankind will one day be surpassed by the übermensch, or the superman. This theme can also be found in Kubrick's films: Dr. Strangelove (1963), A Clockwork Orange (1971), and especially 2001:A Space Odyssey (1968), which is the subject of this paper.
       The Nietzschean ideja seems to have its origin in Darwin's theory of natural selection. Nietzsche saw life as “a struggle for existence in which the fittest survive, strength is the only virtue, and weakness the only fault.”[1] According to Nietzsche, the evolution of man will travel through three stages: primitive man (ape), modern man, and ultimately, superman. Of this, Nietzsche wrote “what is the ape to man? A laughingstock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be to the superman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment.”[2] Man is just a bridge between ape and superman, but for the superman to be, man must use his will to make it happen, “a will to procreate or a drive to an end, to something higher and farther.”[3]
       Nietzsche's idea is elaborated on in his belief that the spirit of man is born of two gods: Dionysus and Apollo. Dionysus was “the god of wine and revelry, of ascending life, of joy in action, of ecstatic emotion and inspiration, of instinct and adventure and dauntless suffering, the god of song and music and dance and drama.”[4] Opposing Dionysus is Apollo, “the god of peace and leisure and repose, of aesthetic emotion and intellectual contemplation, of logical order and philosophic calm, the god of painting and sculpture and epic poetry.”[5]
       Based on this idea, primitive man is Dionysian in spirit, lead by instinct and living in the moment, but lacking intellectual abilities. Modern man, though, is Apollonian in spirit, peaceful and calm, conquered by democracy, socialism, and religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. All vestiges of instinct in man have been extinguished – leaving man as a pathetic creature, in Nietzsche's eyes.


1. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1961, p 301.
2. Walter Kaufmann, The Portable Nietzsche, New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1982, p 124.
3. Walter Kaufmann, p 227.
4. Will Durant, p 305.
5. Will Durant, p 305.

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