Kubrick did not make cuts most directors would during low action moments such as when repairing the ship. The scene took a long time and had the effect of riling my expectations because he did choose to spend so long on the scene.
The first 20 minutes of this film is about the apes’ rise of intelligence. A few things are established, such as how it takes one innovator to move along the development of the group. Also, the introduction on one unique organized construct that is different than normal can lead to religion and intelligence. The narrative arc injects a foreshadowing of something more intelligent to come because of the sudden appearance of the elegant carved monolith in the middle of the ape camp.
Kubrick begins the film with the apes discovering tools because the whole movie is about the evolution of our use of tools. Eventually we develop a tool that is too human-like and no longer serves us well. In fact HAL has a psychological breakdown whereas the humans on board the ship do not. So, the simple bone is a symbol of tools. Dave’s world circles back on him so showing how it all began in the beginning reinforces the idea of moving through time and evolution.
Kubrick’s primary interest in this film is psychological. We are shown amazing images and left to draw our own ideas about what is happening throughout the film. Then we are given dialogue and human interaction to reinforce or set us straight on where we thought we were going with the story. Then once again we are left to develop our own ideas about what happens at the ending.
At the end of the film the monolith represents a circle of life and Dave’s circle starts with his finding out the secret part of the mission, which sets him on a mental breakdown that leads to his death and birth again.
Another idea is that he somehow takes on HAL’s existence and death as he shuts down HAL.
The use of florescent lighting in the space shuttle has an interesting effect. It made the furniture practically glow and created a sterile-like environment. It also dates the film in many ways because the florescent lighting is supposed to be so “futuristic.”