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From Jason Steffen in Phoenix AZ:
For my great directors class, I had an opportunity to talk about the thematic use of food in Kubrick's works, specifically 2001. It reminded me greatly of your own situation as a man who no longer eats or drinks and thought that I would pay tribute and thought you may like to read it.
In the article "My Dinner with Stanley: Kubrick, Food, and the Logic of Images" Mervyn Nicholson brings up an interesting motif shown throughout Kubrick's work. The very act of eating is what makes us living. The loss of this is when we cease to live on our terms as human beings independently. Roger Ebert among other's through various sicknesses has lost the ability to eat and are dependent on machines to live. They are no less people, but in the literal sense they are now part machine, almost a cyborg for a lack of a better term.
This brings up points shown in the article about Kubrick's masterpiece, "2001: A Space Odyssey." Nicholson explains that in the year 2001, we have reached a technological brick wall. Humankind has exhausted the use of tools and has reached a peak. Food is manufactured by machines into blocks. It nourishes and prevents hunger. But is it food? Is the IV drip that Ebert now gains sustenance from really food? Perhaps in the literal sense, but any humanity is completely erased. Food has been changed into an annoying necessity to be tolerated rather than something to be enjoyed. Ebert like others represent this world that is shown to us in the film. Ebert in his blogs has said that he does not miss food. What does he miss?
"What I miss is the society. Lunch and dinner are the two occasions when we most easily meet with friends and family. They're the first way we experience places far from home. Where we sit to regard the passing parade. How we learn indirectly of other cultures. When we feel good together. Meals are when we get a lot of our talking done -- probably most of our recreational talking." (Roger Ebert's Journal, "Nil By Mouth" Jan 6th 2010)"
Why do I bring up Ebert at all, when this is about Kubrick and his fascination with food? Well, one thing is that Ebert's writings on "2001: A Space Odyssey" among other films is one of the main reasons why I love to dissect and discuss film, so being able to connect him into my own work is a way of paying thanks.
The other is that I believe that it is a perfect parallel to the characters in the film. Heywood R. Floyd and his blocks of processed food, the birthcake as a symbol of yearly ritual before being food, and theshattered wine glass at the end that Dave realizes is useless. Man has become so dependent on the machines that they have intertwined. Any human connection such as needs or desires as petty as food is lost as he transcends into the star child transformation. Ebert's decline in health and dependence on technology rather than nature perfectly paints this picture in a modern context.
The other films in the Kubrick canon explain this as well. "A Clockwork Orange" brilliantly used instances of food to put the scene into context. The Kerova milk bar, the spaghetti and meat sauce that symbolize bloody entrails to foreshadow the upcoming events, etc. all are explained in greater detail in the article. But "2001" is the film that I believe uses is not only as symbolism, but as one of its main points. If you have not seen the film, I do not only highly recommend it, but recommend that you leave any preconceived notion at the door and just experience it. Like Nathalie says in "The Barbarian Invasions" in so many words about heroin, "The first time is the best."
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