In the Tim Burton adaptation Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film and one of the episodes of The Simpsons both show a scene were a bunch of apes in what seems to be a canyon region are looking at a long black tablet....thing.

  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory it turns into the Wonka Bar that Wonka beamed into the TV

  • In The Simpsons the apes who used it began to use tools while the Homer Ape touched it and then began to use it as a back scratcher

I am wondering what is the origin of this reference?

  • It was also parodied in Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I". Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:22
  • 1
    Zoolander had a really funny take on it too. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:46
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolith_%28Space_Odyssey%29
    – Ben Plont
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 18:32
  • 1
    In the original film? You mean the Tim Burton adaptation? Because the original Willy Wonka has no such scene
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:07
  • @BlueMoon93 ahh yes you're right. corrected
    – Memor-X
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


This is a reference to the opening scene of the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey in which an alien monolith appears among a group of ancient apes and imbues them with the beginnings of human intelligence while Thus Spake Zarathustra plays.

Here is a clip on YouTube:

  • 3
    If you've only ever seen the parody, it might be difficult to watch this with a straight face youtube.com/watch?v=Y15NnGZIBuM (like watching Zero Hour! after having seen Airplane!) Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:27
  • Many said that the monolyth represents extraterrestrial intelligence, and how its present through all human history. Some others say that is the representation of a cinema screen into the "real world" of the film. The idea of "monkeys in front of something they cant understand" is also quoted in Zoolander (2001) youtube.com/watch?v=Ze3hthGRbRo
    – Gonvar
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 4:47

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