Science Fiction Film & Television

Simians, subjectivity and sociality: 2001: A Space Odyssey and two versions of Planet of the Apes

Science Fiction Film & Television (2009), 2, (2), 225–250.

Abstract

Apes are uncanny human doubles, simultaneously gesturing toward our kinship with other species and raising anxiety about the fixity of the human/animal boundary. This article explores how the figure of the ape is used to explore ideas about humanity and posthumanity in 2001: A Space Odyssey and in the 1968 and 2001 versions of Planet of the Apes. All of these films explore the relationship between human evolution and technology. While the 1960s films use the contrast with the ape to narrate anxieties about the trajectory of a human civilisation heading toward nuclear annihilation, the 2001 film reinforces patriarchal and military authority. Using Heidegger's 'The Question Concerning Technology', this article reveals how the films demonstrate the integral connection between human subjectivity constructed via the human/ animal boundary and a culture of technological transcendence that potentially threatens human and all life.

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Vint, Sherryl