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By age 26, Steven Soderbergh had won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his 1989 breakout indie drama Sex, Lies, and Videotape. In 2001 he reached new heights by directing the Ocean’s Eleven remake.

Now in 2014, at age 52, he’s turned his attention to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It’s not clear whether the director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer has any legal right to upload and distribute his own edited version. What is clear is a deep emotional attachment to a work of art that paved the way for an entire genre of mystery and wonder.

Opening The Pod Bay Doors

On his website, extension765, Steven muses about his relationship with Stanley Kubrick’s 160 minute-long exploration of evolution:

i’ve been watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY regularly for four decades, but it wasn’t until a few years ago i started thinking about touching it, and then over the holidays i decided to make my move. why now? I don’t know. maybe i wasn’t old enough to touch it until now. maybe i was too scared to touch it until now, because not only does the film not need my—or anyone else’s—help, but if it’s not THE most impressively imagined and sustained piece of visual art created in the 20th century, then it’s tied for first. meaning IF i was finally going to touch it, i’d better have a bigger idea than just trimming or re-scoring.

Of course, if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’re probably wondering what makes a film worthy of four decades-worth of obsession. Even some people who have seen it don’t quite understand the borderline-unhealthy relationship many sci-fi fans, cinema nerds Everything That's Wrong With Disney's Frozen (And Other Cinema Sins) [Stuff to Watch] Everything That's Wrong With Disney's Frozen (And Other Cinema Sins) [Stuff to Watch] CinemaSins is a YouTube channel dedicated to pointing out the flaws in some of the worst, most expensive and best performing movies to grace the big screen. Frozen just happens to be one of them. Read More and film school dropouts Lights, Camera, Action! Learn From 7 Digital Filmmaking Schools On YouTube Lights, Camera, Action! Learn From 7 Digital Filmmaking Schools On YouTube Now, I presume it is easier to train yourself for a career in the movie arts. You could take the indie route and make documentaries for a start. The next Steven Spielberg is probably doing... Read More have with this particular work.

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A YouTube search for the film’s title reveals over 100,000 results pandering to this obsession. Many of them attempt to explain the messages, themes and sub-text contained within. Others simply want to explain what they think Kubrick was trying to say, or are keen to hear others’ interpretations of what they have just seen.

There’s also a great deal of attention paid to the technical aspects that made 2001: A Space Odyssey so impressive for the time. It was the first “big budget” sci-fi movie, paving the way for Star Wars Will The Web's Unreasonable Expectations Ruin Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Will The Web's Unreasonable Expectations Ruin Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Read More and an explosion in popularity for the science fiction genre 10+ Brilliant Sci-Fi TV Shows That Aren't Star Trek [Stuff to Watch] 10+ Brilliant Sci-Fi TV Shows That Aren't Star Trek [Stuff to Watch] The best sci-fi movies are often cherished by fans and placed up high upon the mantle, but it's TV shows that make up the bread and butter of any geek's media diet. A good TV... Read More . There were no computer-generated scenes, every effect achieved was created using models – and you can tell (for the right reasons).

Backing it all is an idyllic marriage between cinematography and classical music, a score that opens with a low rumbling before erupting and revealing the scale of what is about to be witnessed. And then there’s HAL-9000, arguably the film’s main (computerised) character, and one that has gone on to inspire countless other technologies Geek Humor Included! Meet Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 Digital Assistant Geek Humor Included! Meet Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 Digital Assistant Cortana is the best reason to upgrade your Windows Phone early. Microsoft's answer to Siri offers great features and will make you laugh. Read More and works of science fiction.

2001: A Soderbergh Odyssey

While there’s no substitute for the original cut, as intended by the director himself; Soderbergh’s version is freely available for viewing online at present and is 50 minutes shorter than the original. Most of the missing footage has been taken from the first third of the film, notably scenes involving Dr Heywood Floyd (played by William Sylvester).

Soderbergh’s recut moves at a quicker pace than Kubrick’s intentionally drawn-out version, and makes liberal use of HAL’s piercing red glow throughout – which arguably dilutes the sinister impact the computer has at certain points in the film. It’s arguably better positioned in the current cinematic age, but we’d still recommend you check out the original too.

Click here to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey Recut on Soderbergh’s website, extension765.

Other Works

This isn’t the first time Steven Soderbergh has recut someone else’s film. Last year he also spliced together Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho with the 1998 shot-for-shot remake from Gus Van Sant. The result is a mashup he simply calls “Psychos”, with all colour drained from the modern version and credits that pay homage to both versions. You can watch it here.

Another Soderbergh edit worth mentioning is his recut of Michael Climino’s 1980 Western, Heaven’s Gate – a film often criticised for its shambolic and longwinded nature and accusations of animal cruelty. Steven titled his version “Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut” – watch it here.

What do you think about directors like Soderbergh re-cutting other people’s films?

  1. De
    January 22, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    2001 (THE RETURN OF W. DE RIJK) has been taken down

  2. Anonymous
    January 21, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Video pulled ?

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