Six days ago a video clip surfaced of Stanley Kubrick explaining the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The footage was recorded 38 years ago by filmmaker Jun’ichi Yaoi. It was part of a documentary about paranormal experiences, blah blah. Yaoi’s doc was never released but a VHS of the raw footage was reportedly sold two years ago on eBay. Somebody evidently decided to upload the video to YouTube. Why did they wait two years? Why didn’t they upload it immediately? Or why didn’t they wait until 2001‘s 60th anniversary in 2028? Or the 70th in 2038? Who cares?
The Great Stanley K., in his own words: “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 [Keir Dullea‘s Dave Bowman] 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 weren’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what we 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 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.”
Five minutes after I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time, I was saying pretty much the same thing to myself. Stanley doesn’t mention that his “god-like entities” are the same aliens who sent that black monolith or sentinel to earth hundreds of thousands of years earlier in order to sire intelligence among apes, and then buried the same monolith under the surface of the moon. I mean, how dumb to you have to be not understand this?
And yet thousands if not millions of viewers have been saying for decades, “Uhhm, I don’t really get it.” These are the same people who are still asking, “So what really happened in that final New Jersey restaurant scene in the last episode of The Sopranos?”
Here’s Jun’ichi Yaoi‘s entire 84-minute video about his 1980 visit to EMI Elstree, where he did his Kubrick phoner from. It includes a chat with Kubrick about the end of The Shining. It also includes a discussion with Kubrick’s then-20-year-old daughter Vivian: