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2001 and Counting

Kubrick, Nietzsche, and Anthropology

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely recognized as a cult classic. Despite mixed critical reception, the dark and difficult movie mesmerized audiences at the time of its initial screening in 1968 and went on to become one the highest grossing films of the decade.

In 2001 and Counting, renowned anthropologist Bruce Kapferer revisits 2001: A Space Odyssey, making a compelling case for its continued cultural relevance. While the film’s earliest audiences considered it to be a critical examination of European and American realities at the height of the Cold War, Kapferer shows that Kubrick’s masterwork speaks equally well to concerns of the contemporary world, including the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis, and the material and political effects of neoliberalism. Kapferer explores Kubrick’s central theme—the ever-changing relationship between humanity and technology—both with regard to current events and through the lens of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the mythical concept of the eternal return.

A thought-provoking exploration of the cultural power of cinema, this volume by one of anthropology’s most insightful and imaginative thinkers will appeal to anthropologists and cineastes alike.

100 pages | 2 halftones | 4 1/2 x 7 | © 2014

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Film Studies

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“To measure myth – to contain it, even reduce it –with reference to a scale external to its own economy of expression is to cancel its mythical quality. . . . Myth, one might say, is Human, all too Human, in its refusal to submit to externally imposed scales of meaning. The marvel of Kapferer’s book, then, lies in the manner in which it pursues this flow of meaning, giving anthropological expression to the subterranean links between the filmic, the mythic and the human. A book for free anthropological spirits.”

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Table of Contents

1. The Social and Political Context and Intellectual Themes

A Space Odyssey, 1969 and Tropes of the Present

A Space Odyssey and its Mythic Set

Nietzsche and his Centrality in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Kubrick’s Transposition of Nietzsche: From Religion to Technology

2. The Film and its Analysis

A Space Odyssey and its Logic of Structure

A Space Odyssey:  An Analytical Description

Part 1: Opening and Credits

The Monolith

The Events in Earth Orbit

Part 2: The Jupiter Mission: Eighteen Months Later


Part 3: Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite

a) Descent

b) The Final Transition to Rebirth

3. A Space Odyssey and Beyond


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