Movie endings don’t get any more iconic or enigmatic than the final 15 minutes of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Dr. David Bowman’s journey into the vortex has spawned countless fan theories and discussions about what exactly happens to the character, but it now appears the most important voice of all has weighed in on the ending. That’s right, Stanley Kubrick himself allegedly explains the ending of “2001” in a resurfaced interview that’s going viral on the internet.
The footage is from a 1980 documentary from filmmaker Jun’ichi Yaoi (via io9). The director was making a behind-the-scenes look at the reported paranormal occurrences that happened during the making of “The Shining.” The documentary was never released, which is why the footage has not been seen until now. At one point in the documentary, Yaoi called Kubrick and the director’s voice is heard over the phone explaining his interpretation of “2001’s” polarizing ending.
“I’ve tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out,” Kubrick says. “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.”
Popular on IndieWire
MGM/Stanley Kubrick Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Kubrick explains the god-like entities chose the famous bedroom (which he says is an “inaccurate replica of French architecture”) because “they had some idea of something that [Bowman] might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure.” Kubrick compares the bedroom in “2001” to the spaces where animals live at the zoo that “we think is their natural environment.”
“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,” Kubrick concludes, alluding to the star baby. “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.”
“2001: A Space Odyssey” returned to theaters earlier this summer and toured the country with an unrestored 70mm print. 2018 marks the film’s 50th anniversary. Listen to Kubrick talk about the film’s ending in the video below.