Here’s Looking At You, Kid

And here man undergoes a transformation as important as when he became a tool-user. He becomes a natural being again, lookinghaving used his tools for hundreds of thousands of years to pull himself up by the bootstraps. Now, he no longer needs them. He has transcended his own nature, as that original ape did, and now he is no longer a “man.”

Instead, having grown old and died, he is reborn as a child of the universe. As a solemn, wide-eyed infant who slowly looks over the stars and the Earth, and then turns his eyes on the audience.

These last 20 seconds, as the child of man looks down on his ancestral parents, are the most important in the film. We in the audience are men, and here is the liberated, natural being, Kubrick believes we will someday become.

But when Kubrick’s space infant looked at the audience the other night, half of the audience was already on its feet, in a hurry to get out. A good third of the audience, must not have seen the space infant at all.

—Roger Ebert

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