Does it make me a cinematic heathen that I don’t care much about 17 new minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey turning up? I mean, any cinematic discovery is always interesting, but 2001 isn’t a movie like The Magnificent Ambersons, where its true form has been lost to history. The 2001 we saw was pretty much the 2001 that Stanley Kubrick wanted us to see. And let’s be honest, if Kubrick cut stuff for pacing purposes you know there’s really no reason for it to exist.
But my lack of deep curiosity about these minutes does not stop them from existing! They’ve been found in a salt mine in Kansas; nobody knows for sure what the footage is, but Wikipedia has this about deleted scenes from the film:
Kubrick filmed several scenes that were deleted from the final film. These include a schoolroom on the moon base—a painting class that included Kubrick’s daughters, additional scenes of life on the base, Floyd buying a bush baby from a department store via videophone for his daughter, details about the daily life on Discovery, additional space walks, astronaut Bowman retrieving a spare part from an octagonal corridor, a number of cuts from the Poole murder sequence including the entire space walk preparation and shots of HAL turning off radio contact with Poole—explaining the non sequitur of HAL’s response to Bowman’s question, and notably a close-up shot of Bowman picking up a slipper during his walk in the alien room—the slipper can still be seen behind him in what was then the next shot. The most notable cut was a 10-minute black-and-white opening sequence featuring interviews with actual scientists, including Freeman Dyson, discussing extraterrestrial life, which Kubrick removed after an early screening for MGM executives. The actual text survives in the book The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 by Jerome Agel. If the music intro and outro are included, 29 minutes of film have been excised from the theatrical version.
What’s really interesting is that we’ve always been told that there are no deleted scenes from Kubrick films because he burned the negatives of them. Does this mean there are deleted scenes from other Kubrick films hidden away in other mines? Academically this is pretty interesting. Cinematically… well, I’d take a look at the footage, but I do hope no lunatic is considering actually putting it back in the film. We already have too many battles over Kubrick’s preferred aspect ratios without putting ‘Extended Edition’ debates into play.