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Seventeen Lost Minutes from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Discovered

Written by on December 16, 2010 

UPDATE: Warner Bros. has responded and you can read it here. You can find the original story below.

In what’s one of the more exciting recent film discoveries, Douglas Trumbull and David Larson, the former of whom was the special photographic effects supervisor for 2001: A Space Odyssey, has recently revealed a missing piece from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. When discussing their canceled documentary 2001: Beyond the Infinite: The Making of a Masterpiece, they revealed Warner Brothers discovered, buried in a salt-mine vault in Kansas (?), 17 minutes that were cut from 2001 by Kubrick after its premiere.

When it originally premiered in 1968, 2001 ran at the length of 160 minutes, but 19 of them were cut out by the director himself for the general purpose of pacing. According to the film’s IMDb page, some of these deleted scenes included:

  • Some shots from the “Dawn of Man” sequence were removed and a new scene was inserted where an ape pauses with the bone it is about to use as a tool. The new scene was a low-angle shot of the monolith, done in order to portray and clarify the connection between the man-ape using the tool and the monolith.
  • Some shots of Frank Poole jogging in the centrifuge were removed.
  • An entire sequence of several shots in which Dave Bowman searches for the replacement antenna part in storage was removed.
  • A scene where HAL severs radio communication between the “Discovery” and Poole’s pod before killing him was removed. This scene explains a line that stayed in the film in which Bowman addresses HAL on the subject.
  • Some shots of Poole’s space walk before he is killed were removed.

Thought to be lost forever, they’ve not only been recovered but are said to be in a pristine, “perfectly preserved” condition. I’m not really going to question how this would happen and only hope that it’s true, because this is something to be quite thankful for. These deleted scenes are undoubtedly an important piece of history, and their discovery has me anxious to hear whether or not they’ll be released to the public. Even though I say that, I really hope Warner Brothers doesn’t release some “extended cut” nonsense similar to what we often get on home video when it comes to deleted material. Many people would argue that this is already a perfect film, so making any changes to it whatsoever could hurt it overall; even if the damage weren’t major in terms of story or pacing, they certainly would be when it comes to the purity the movie holds. When sci-fi movies from its time have had digital manipulations in later years to “improve” them, the results can sometimes be damaging. If you’re like me and care about this movie’s legacy, then you probably wouldn’t want to see an extended version, either.

Would you want to see the deleted scenes from 2001, and do you think Warner Brothers will release an extended cut?

Source: ForgottenSilver, Blastr

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