Unearthed interview with Stanley Kubrick may explain the ending of '2001'

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
2001: A Space Odyssey (Credit: MGM)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Credit: MGM)

The ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey is, to say the least, a little baffling.

Critics and academics have picked it apart for decades, and despite its thuddingly slow pace, it’s still regarded as a science fiction masterpiece.

The cryptic climax famously finds Keir Dullea’s Dr. David Bowman launched down a psychedelic wormhole into the realm of a higher alien intelligence – with fine taste in furniture – before he is reborn as a giant star baby, floating in space.

Star Wars it is not.

But now, with the movie celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we may be one step closer to working out what the hell is going on.

A newly unearthed interview between Japanese filmmaker Jun’ichi Yaoi and the mercurial Stanley Kubrick finds Kubrick in candid form.

Asked about the polarising conclusion to the movie, he replies: “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.”

He goes on: “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 into some sort 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.”

The interview was from a planned documentary movie about the supposed paranormal incidents which were said to have occurred on the set of Kubrick’s The Shining.

However, the documentary was never released and only now has the discussion about 2001 emerged.

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