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Lost Stanley Kubrick Script and the Director’s Explanation of the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Ending Uncovered

Written by on July 16, 2018 

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Nearly two decades after his death, Stanley Kubrick is still making headlines. With the 50th anniversary re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey currently earning over $1.2 million in just a handful of theaters, it’s clear that that works of the director certainly earn the label of “visionary,” and now another project that came from his mind may see the light of day.

A thought-to-be-lost screenplay from Kubrick titled Burning Secret has been found and it’s in a nearly-complete form. The Guardian reports that Kubrick expert Nathan Abrams, a film professor at Bangor University, found the script, which is over 100 pages. Written for MGM in 1956 alongside his Paths of Glory collaborator Calder Willingham, the script is an adaptation of the Stefan Zweig novella from 1913.

The story, which Kubrick moved from a Viennese Jewish perspective to then-contemporary America, follows “adultery and passion set in a spa resort, a suave and predatory man befriends a 10-year-old boy, using him to seduce the child’s married mother.” Abrams said of the script, “The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface.”

Considering the taboo subject matter (an arena Kubrick would once again encounter with Lolita a few years later) and that the director was focused on his follow-up to The Killing, Paths of Glory, it’s clear to see why the film didn’t move forward, but it could still see the light of day, according to Abrams.

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s so exciting. It was believed to have been lost,” Abrams said. “Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed. We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay.” He added, “It’s a full screenplay so could be completed by film-makers today,” and that the son of one of Kubrick’s former collaborators owns the rights.

While we wait to see if anything comes of Burning Secret, another revelation involving Kubrick recently saw the light of day. One of our readers spotted a YouTube upload of an unaired Japanese documentary featuring Jun’ichi Yaoi, sold on eBay in 2016, in which he was investigating paranormal activity on The Shining‘s set.

The entire 90-minute video is a treasure trove of footage, featuring a tour of Kubrick’s offices and more, but one particular section will excite Kubrick fans. Jun’ichi Yaoi gets on the phone with Kubrick, who goes on to explain the ending of his sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, something he never discussed in the press. Check out ScreenCrush‘s transcription below.

I’ve tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out. When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it, but I’ll try.

The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what they think is their natural environment.

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made some kind of superman. We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.

Pretty incredible, right? Watch the full documentary below and these specific comments around the 49:44 mark:


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