SEVENTEEN MINUTES’ of missing footage from Stanley Kubrick‘s seminal sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey has been found in an underground archive.
Material believed to be among the footage include additional scenes from the Dawn of Man opening sequence; more footage of the Jupiter Expedition astronauts onboard the Discovery; a scene showing HAL breaking off contact with Earth before the computer alerts the crew that the AE-35 antenna has “malfunctioned”; and more footage of Frank Poole outside Discovery trying to fix the damaged antenna.
The discovery was announced by 2001‘s effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull during a talk before a movie audience in Toronto, Canada.
The visual effects legend, who was presenting a 70mm print of Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, revealed Warner Bros. had discovered the complete and perfectly preserved component negatives of the lost footage in a Kansas salt mine, where it had been stored and forgotten for the last four decades.
Warner Bros. is said to be considering how best to use the footage.
According to Wikipedia, Kubrick filmed several scenes that were deleted from the final film.
These include a schoolroom on the moon base (a painting class that included Kubrick’s daughters); additional scenes of life on the base; Floyd buying a bush baby from a department store via videophone for his daughter; details about the daily life on Discovery; additional space walks; astronaut Bowman retrieving a spare part from an octagonal corridor; a number of cuts from the Poole murder sequence including the entire space walk preparation and shots of HAL turning off radio contact with Poole – (explaining the non sequitur of HAL’s response to Bowman’s question); and notably a close-up shot of Bowman picking up a slipper during his walk in the alien room – the slipper can still be seen behind him in what was then the next shot.
The most notable cut was a 10-minute black-and-white opening sequence featuring interviews with actual scientists, including Freeman Dyson, discussing extraterrestrial life, which Kubrick removed after an early screening for MGM executives. The text survives in the book The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 by Jerome Agel.
If the music intro and outro are included, 29 minutes’ worth of film were excised from the theatrical version.
Kubrick’s decision to cut the film was to tighten the narrative. Contemporary reviews suggested the film suffered too much by the radical departure from traditional cinema story-telling conventions.
Regarding the cuts, Kubrick stated: “I didn’t believe that the trims made a critical difference. The people who like it, like it no matter what its length, and the same holds true for the people who hate it”.
According to Kubrick biographer Jan Harlan, the director was adamant the trims were never to be seen, and that he “even burned the negatives” – which he had kept in his garage – shortly before his death.
Former Kubrick assistant Leon Vitalli confirmed the destruction not only of the 2001 footage, but also that of material from a number of his other films
Speaking to DVDTalk.com, he said: “I’ll tell you right now, okay, on Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, some little parts of 2001, we had thousands of cans of negative outtakes and print, which we had stored in an area at his house where we worked out of, which he personally supervised the loading of it to a truck and then I went down to a big industrial waste lot and burned it. That’s what he wanted.”
Douglas Trumbull was one of four special effects advisers on 2001 and helped create the realistic and immersive effects that give the film a sense of realism and scale befitting Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s epic screenplay.
He had been working on a new documentary with David Larson about the film, 2001: Behind the Infinite – The Making of a Masterpiece, but confirmed at the Toronto screening that Warner Bros. had “pulled the plug” on the project.
The duo are now putting together a book featuring Trumbull’s recollections of working on the movie, plus a number of behind-the-scenes photos.
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