Christmas has come early this year for Kubrick fans, as, in an unlikely turn of events an extra seventeen minutes of footage cut from 2001: A Space Odyssey has been discovered. The footage, cut shortly after its U.S premiere due to pacing issues, was found by Warner Brothers in the strangest of places: a salt mine in Kansas.
Warner Brothers have not yet mentioned any plans to either release the perfectly preserved footage independently, or to merge it with the final cut to create an extended edition of the science fiction classic. Considering the fact that the total amount of footage Kubrick shot, according to IMDB was some 200 times the length of the film’s final cut, a mere seventeen minutes may seem relatively insignificant. But bearing in mind the movie’s cult following and its formidable status as one of the greatest films ever made this is most certainly a massive revelation.
Fans of the film, of course, will know how meticulous Kubrick was in the production of any of his movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey, considered by many his magnum opus is mathematically precise in its construction and execution – in its use of symbolism, in its colour, in its symmetry. And so the prospect of this footage being released is both exciting and daunting. For a merged and extended version, (it is said among Kubrick enthusiasts), may disrupt the flow of a movie renowned for its supposedly precise timings and strategically placed divisions, it could make the film unbalanced and shift its emphasis. Nevertheless, if Warner Brothers do decide to release this footage, in whatever format, it will without doubt be both enlightening and exciting for Kubrick fans the world over.
The movie’s IMDB page gives us some clues as to the content of this rediscovered footage – stating that before the cut, the film included:
– A series of extended shots in the ‘Dawn of Man’ sequence
– Some more of those mind-boggling shots of Frank jogging in the centrifuge
– A sequence of shots where Dave searches for a replacement antenna
– Shots of Frank’s space walk
– A scene where HAL severs radio connection between the ‘Discovery’ and Frank’s pod