An ape uses to learn a bone as a weapon, and this tool, flung into the air, transforms itself into a space ship--the tool that will free us from the bondage of this planet. And then the spaceship takes man on a voyage into the interior of what may be the mind of another species.
The debates about the "meaning" of this film still go on. Surely the whole point of the film is that it is beyond meaning, that it takes its character to a place he is so incapable of understanding that a special room--sort of a hotel room--has to be prepared for him there, so that he will not go mad. The movie lyrically and brutally challenges us to break out of the illusion that everyday mundane concerns are what must preoccupy us. It argues that surely man did not learn to think and dream, only to deaden himself with provincialism and selfishness. "2001" is a spiritual experience. But then all good movies are.