It was a heady bit of news, that 17 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey—previously cut from the theatrical release by director Stanley Kubrick—had been found, in pristine condition, buried in a Kansas salt mine. The question was: Would we ever see it?
Well, Warner Brothers has released a statement that clarifies the situation:
"The additional footage from 2001: A Space Odyssey has always existed in the Warner vaults. When [director Stanley] Kubrick trimmed the 17 minutes from 2001 after the NY premiere, he made it clear the shortened version was his final edit. The film is as he wanted it to be presented and preserved and Warner Home Video has no plans to expand or revise Mr. Kubrick's vision."
Which, honestly, is the answer they should've given. As much as the idea of a Supreme Monolith Director's Cut of 2001 is intoxicating, that kind of cinematic reincorporation would be in direct opposition to Kubrick's intentions, and it's right for Warner to respect that. However, there's no saying that those 17 minutes couldn't be a bonus on a new home video release.
As for what those 17 minutes consist of, IMDB has broken it down:
- Some shots from the "Dawn of Man" sequence were removed and a new scene was inserted where an ape pauses with the bone it is about to use as a tool. The new scene was a low-angle shot of the monolith, done in order to portray and clarify the connection between the man-ape using the tool and the monolith.
- Some shots of Frank Poole jogging in the centrifuge were removed.
- An entire sequence of several shots in which Dave Bowman searches for the replacement antenna part in storage was removed.
- A scene where HAL severs radio communication between the "Discovery" and Poole's pod before killing him was removed. This scene explains a line that stayed in the film in which Bowman addresses HAL on the subject.
- Some shots of Poole's space walk before he is killed were removed.