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8 Myths in Stanley Kubrick Films Need Your Interpretation

28 February 2012 | Other Lists | by David Zou

One of my major tasks of February film watching is finishing Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection Blu-ray. It has been the best-experienced film month I’ve ever had. Re-visiting those 7 Stanley Kubrick films is more than appreciating the master’s cinema. It is like BEING STANLEY KUBRICK, you know. Like the film Being John Malkovic, enter the brain of one of the most intelligent human-being ever lived on earth, and try to accept and solve those maze-like challenges he threw to us with his films.

Since this is the 2nd or even 3rd time I viewed these films, I noticed more details and raised more questions this time. I’d like to post some of them here. In case you share the same admiration for him and his films as I do, or you happen to have particular affection toward a certain film of his. We can try to interpreter them in our own ways together.

The 8 questions below concern his 3 most mysterious films – 2001:The Space OdysseyThe Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. They are all quite open questions and I would appreciate your participation in the discussions in the comments.


2001:The Space Odyssey

#1 What was the so-called “star child” ? Was it an enhanced super being? Was it the future of mankind as what Stanley Kubrick had predicted?

2001 space odyssey starchild


#2 Do you think computers in the near future can have emotions like HAL in the film and they will be powerful enough to fight against man’s  will?

2001 space odyssey hal


The Shining

#3 Were the ghosts Jack saw in the hotel real  or just his imaginations?

the shining bartender lloyd


#4 Was the people in the photograph at the end of the film the reincarnation of Jack or it meant after he dies, he is ‘absorbed’ back through time into the past of the hotel?

the Shining photography end


Eyes Wide Shut

#5 What was the purpose of the costume shop owner’s daughter character and her relationship with those 2 Japanese men?

eyes wide shut costume shop owner daughter


#6 Was the prostitute died of drug overdose or it was because she was punished by her attempt to save Bill from the orgy party?



#7 Who put the mask on the pillow at the end of the film? Was it Bill’s wife? If so, since when did she find out about the whole matter?

eyes wide shut mask


#8 Was Bill’s whole adventure through the film only a sexual dream just like his wife’s? or it actually happened?

eyes wide shut orgy party


All kinds of thoughts are welcome here. You can pick the ones you feel most interested to answer. I’m very eager to know what your interpretations are.


More Kubrick articles on this site:

10 Reasons Why Stanley Kubrick Is The Greatest Filmmaker Ever

14 Interesting Facts You Don’t Know About 2001: A Space Odyssey





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  • Bill’s wife found the mask in the place where he hid it, and then waited up in bed with it so she could confront him, but fell asleep before he got home.

  • #3 Were the ghosts Jack saw in the hotel real or just his imaginations?

    Had to be real. Who unlocked the pantry door?

  • Alejandro Vega via Facebook

    2001 was NOT filmed in space.

  • Ben McClellan via Facebook

    2001 confused the hell out of Rock Hudson, who stormed out of the premiere screaming “Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?” Don’t ask anyone from his family.

  • That’s the one thing about Kubrick. His films are always worth revisiting because there’s still more of an air of mystery that occurs every time you see one of his movies. So far, I’ve seen everything he did from Dr. Strangelove to Eyes Wide Shut as I’ve managed to have some of his earlier films on my DVR list. He’s going to be an Auteurs subject but at the end of 2012 as I’m going to re-write and re-edit a lot of the reviews of films that I’ve seen from him.

    • Dude,you did not answer any questions here,since you have seen them all,I’d like to hear some of your opinions. Also I would recommend other early films of his,from Killer’s Kiss to Lolita,they are all great master work.I have not seen Fear and Desire yet,just don’t have a good version.

      • I have no answers for these. Then again, whatever answer it might be. I’m definitely wrong.

  • The Starchild in 2001 is (and this is just my thinks) the next step in human evolution. Just as the proto-humans gained the start of intelligence by touching the obelisk, and thus evolved into humans, Dave Bowman’s contact with the obelisk turned him into the Starchild.

    As for HAL, you’d have to prove to me that his emotions were real and not simulated to make him appear more human to the rest of the crew. HAL was following orders.

    I need to think about the other two films for a bit before I answer.

    • As many have guessed,the obelisk is the tool which ET use to help us evolve,so you think the starchild is part of the evolvement? BUT why ET will help us in the first place??

      I do think HAL’s emotion is real,we can see the point when Dave tries to take out its memories ,it gets sentimental,begging him not to do this and sings the song “DAISY,DAISY”

      I’m looking forward to your other answers for the other two films.

  • Dave, have you read the Kubrick Corner and Rob Ager’s Kubrick sites? Good intriguing stuff there.

    • No,I did not read them,I tried to read some stuff on IMDB,and I know there are tons of discussions about Kubrick film myths on the Internet,just couldn’t decide which to look at,I will definitely check out your references.

  • Hello. The star child is the next step in evolution. The failed step was Hal which is why the very next monolith we see is horizontal, not vertical. Of a CPU fears disconnection then of course, his responses will seem emotional. The ghosts of the overlook are his imagination. Every time he talks to them they are in front of a mirror or reflective surface( the pantry) Danny un locks the pantry. Remember where he’s hiding when jack moves past him?
    The mask was put on his pillow by the people who warned him to stop snooping.

    • Thanks for your interpretation first,Trent!!
      The monolith is horizontal once? Are you talking about the one in the strange house where Dave turns old and dies?
      You say it is Danny who unlocks the pantry? then what is his intentions? his father is trying to kill him,isn’t he?
      haha,the mask one is funny.

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  • Hi again, quick follow up from prev. MSG.
    Bill hartfords adventure was definitely real, not a dream. The point of the costume shop owners daughters escapade , as well as his un awareness that the hotel clerk is talking because of his attraction to the dr. Is an attempt to span a wider swath as to bills nievity.
    Hence eyes wide shut. The same unawareness that his wife has fantasies that don’t include him.

    • OK,it makes sense that the hotel clerk’s talking is an attempt to span a wider swath as to bills nievity,but is the costume shop owners daughter the same case? you mean they are all manipulated to do it?

  • .hi again. the first time bill sees the daughter shes ripped into for being a little tramp. he scorns the two gentleman with threats. when bill returns he watches the costume shop owner glad hand the same two “villians” out the door with good tiddings in business & otherwise. the point being it never occured to bill or the audience that the first “undressing” was a sham for the good Dr.
    when Dr. Bill seeks out nick nightongale, does the clerk think NN & Dr. are an item? is NN open to such behaivor that the clerk is aware of? who knows, but as soon as bill mentions NN the clerk goes in for the rump. dr is oblivious to it. the same way hes clueless about his own wifes desires.
    the horizontal monolith is in spce after HAL9000 is dis connected. remember dr floyd touched the monolith and invented hal. moonwatcher touched the monolyth and the dawn of mankind arrived. hals evolutionary step was dead in its tracks when he became dead. so the ET’s went back to flesh & blood. when dave boman as anelderly man touched it you got the star child

    • I don’t think one can be “clueless” about another’s desires,also Nicole has mentioned twice herself about her desires with the officer,so it must be true.Bill don’t need other clues to prove it.
      I’m confused about the relationships between the monolith and the revolution.Are you saying HAL is also a part of human’s revolution?

  • FOLLOWING UP: if you listen to all the dialoge between the cook & danny about shinning and the way wendy describes tony to the dr in the start, along with red rum {btw why would such a good little boy write such a thing?}…… tony tells him to do it! its not the boy killing himself, tony is shinning the events as they occur. think about it? where was tnoy in the maze? when the cook got axed danny shook free of tony. thank goodness because he never would have survived the maize. anyhow ive studied all twelve of kubricks films for years and years. and i am facinated with each one. what ive found is people generally dislike the first viewing of a kubrick film but if they are a willing participant to a second or third try, they begin to be bit by the same bug. ive studied ALOT of film for years and have discoverd kubrick to be the pinnacle.

    • OK,so you are saying that TONY is the one who can shine,not DANNY himself? TONY ask him to do so so Jack can kill the cook and TONY can be free? WOW,that’s fascinating. Anyhow,thanks for all the explanations you made here,you really helped me a lot understand all those puzzles.Will you pls leave your twitter or facebook or email so I can contact you for some more SK film discussions?Also you are welcome to be back because I think I’m gonna write more SK posts in the near future after I re-visit his 3 early ones.

      • Your summeries of my responses are combative and completely detatched from what trying to convey. It’s no fault of yours, I’ve went back to read my posts and have realized all my typos etc
        No big deal Dave , I’m glad your pushing the word.. From one cinephile to another good day, & good luck. Use that objectivity on some of your evaluations of hitch cock and you’ll end up really confused. Later my man

        • Oh,if my responses sound combative to you,I did not mean it.Maybe I need more time to digest what you are trying to convey.

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  • Jack Torrance doesn’t really look like Nicholson but becomes possessed by the ghost of the guy in the picture as soon as walks into the hotel. We never see his real face.

    • That’s an interesting interpretation,Burnsy,maybe similar story already happened before in Overlook hotel before Jack went there,who knows.

  • Nobody ever mentions Barry Lyndon
    It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, one of my all time favorite narrator pieces, (& I’m not a big fan of narration) the ironies and dark humer is perfect – making it a joy to watch over & over. Its always more enjoyable with each subsequent viewing. In my humble opinion it’s Stanley’s masterpiece.

    • Nice to see you again,Trent.I 100% agree with you that Barry Lyndon is Kubrick’s masterpiece,in fact,it is my 2nd fave from Kubrick,I did mention it in the post Stanley Kubrick Films and Scenes ( Ranked ).I wrote a couple of other posts about Kubrick after this one,I don’t know if you have checked them out.

  • Gil Blakemore

    not sure if its been said already, but my interpretation of the starchild was that it is the next stage of human evolution? might sound a bit far-fetched but that’s what i got 🙂