Watch Steven Soderbergh’s Re-Edited Version of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Free Online

kubrick soderbergh 3

In 2013, Steven Soderbergh told me during an interview that he was retiring. “Five years ago, as we were finishing Che, I said, ‘OK, when I turn 50, I want to be done. I’m going to jam in as much as I can, but when I turn 50, I want to be done.'”

Yet Soderbergh’s concept of retirement must be different from most mortals. In the past year, he not only executive produced the Showtime series The Knick but he also directed all ten episodes. Using the handle @Bitchuation, he wrote an entire novel on Twitter called Glue. And he produced and directed a Broadway show starring Chloë Grace Moretz called The Library. And in his copious free time, he’s been producing various cinematic experiments on his website Extension 765, which included a piece that spliced together Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with Gus Van Sant’s bizarro shot-by-shot remake, a black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark and an edit of Michael Cimino’s famously bloated Heaven’s Gates.

In his latest work, Soderbergh takes a crack at Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can watch it here. As he writes on his site:

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.

What that bigger idea is, however, isn’t immediately clear. Soderbergh’s version is a good 50 minutes shorter than the original. Unlike the original, which unfolds in a deliberate pace, Soderbergh’s version moves briskly. Most of the cuts aren’t immediately missed.

But there is one clear, and jarring difference between the two – he drops HAL’s unblinking electronic red eye into unexpected scenes. It pops up right in the beginning, then again when the tribe of early humans first encounter the monolith, and then again during the film’s trippy light show deep at the end. Whereas Kubrick used the HAL’s eye as a sinister example of the perils of technology and mankind’s hubris, Soderbergh turns it into something else, something more spiritual. Does it work? I don’t know. But it’s interesting.

Soderbergh goes on to argue that Kubrick, were he alive, would be a big fan of digital video and he makes a pretty compelling case.

i believe SK would have embraced the current crop of digital cameras, because from a visual standpoint, he was obsessed with two things: absolute fidelity to reality-based light sources, and image stabilization. regarding the former, the increased sensitivity without resolution loss allows us to really capture the world as it is, and regarding the latter, post-2001 SK generally shot matte perf film (normally reserved for effects shots, because of its added steadiness) all day, every day, something which digital capture makes moot. pile on things like never being distracted by weaving, splices, dirt, scratches, bad lab matches during changeovers, changeovers themselves, bad framing and focus exacerbated by projector vibration, and you can see why i think he might dig digital.

Again, you can watch Soderbergh’s re-edit of 2001 here. More films can be found in our collection, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, Documentaries & More.

Related Content:

Watch Steven Soderbergh’s Creative Mashup of Hitchcock and Gus Van Sant’s Psycho Films

Steven Soderbergh Creates Silent, Black & White Recut of Raiders of the Lost Ark to Explain the Art of “Staging”

Steven Soderbergh Creates a Big List of What He Watched, Read & Listened to in 2014

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

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Comments (11)
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  • Paul Tatara says:

    Honest to God- what gives him the right to “touch it” in the first place?? I’m not down with this any more than I’d be thrilled by somebody “re-painting” a Picasso to make it more in keeping with their personal sensibilities. No.

  • Gary says:

    My favorite part of this post is the use of “in his copious free time.” Long live Tom Lehrer!

  • chris says:

    This was interesting until the part when Dave begun communicating. First i thought this was an error, but the echoing – repeating words from Dave are so super annoying that i had to turn the entire thing off.

    The best part about this version appears to be the format changes, but clearly the echoes are annoying.

  • maxCohen says:

    I could only take about 27 minutes of it. It is so disjointed, removes the mystery of what is happening with the discovery of the monolith, and creates confusion for why Dr. Floyd even goes to the moon.

    Who is that guy with Dr. Floyd as he gives he goes through security?

    The scene is cut where Dr. Floyd talks to the Russians, so the mystery is missing.

    Dr. Floyd’s conversation on the moon shuttle, gone, again mystery taken away.

    It’s just so bad!

  • david brower says:

    I -understand- the cuts, and don’t mind shortening the Stargate or Dawn of Man much. I -do- miss the conversation with the Russians on the station, and the Clavius meeting where the loyalty oaths are handed out. Without those, the secrecy charade seems less established.

    A might lacking on the Zarathustra as well, but that may be a victim of its own success in this very film.

    Probably someone even younger would chop another 20 minuts to a neat 1:30.

  • Doug Stead says:

    Film no longer seems to be up at the link!!

  • Julio says:

    Could you be more ignorant?

  • Tom Scoot says:

    Jumpin’ Jesus, what’s up with the echoing? Just extraordinarily annoying.

  • Pablo says:

    Thanks God someone had the guts to do this.
    I get that is the first science fiction movie as we know it but by modern standards this is just insufferable!
    The whole monkey thing is a fine metaphor if it goes on for like 2-3 minutes, not 20! Three minutes of black screen at the beginning and the middle? No, thanks.
    And the music… ALL of it is painful. Even when it is nice classical music it gets so loud that it becomes painful.
    And cut down the psychedelia, for Heaven’s sake! Someone’s going to get epileptic seizures.

    Watching 2001 was just painful and sad. So thanks, Mr Soderbergh. Maybe someone will be lucky enough to see this short version first instead of suffering through three hours of pure painful noise.

  • Zyanya says:

    Fantastic movie! I got the recommendation to watch this edited version first instead of the original and it’s just an absolute masterpiece. I really don’t know what everyone else is complaining about here – snobbism as usual perhaps.

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