Watch Stanley Kubrick explain the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey


The final scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey may finally have an explanation, with a video surfacing on YouTube that purportedly shows Kubrick detailing the meaning behind the film’s ambiguous ending, io9 reports. 

Well, maybe.

As io9 explains, Kubrick doesn’t actually appear on screen. Instead, it shows Japanese film maker Jun’ichi Yaoi on the phone with the renowned filmmaker, asking him “what is the meaning of [the] last scene?”

Kubrick responds “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.”

Ultimately he rattles off a lengthy response that provides some insight into what the ending signifies, explaining the concept of protagonist David Bowman being captured and placed in a “human zoo”, growing old and “being transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman.”

You can see the full exchange below.

The conversation is ripped from a longer video posted on a YouTube channel called “image circulation” which was opened in February 2017.

The channel only contains one video in which Jun’ichi Yaoi is seen touring EMI Elstree Studios while filming a documentary in 1980 around The Shining. In the description, the uploader suggests the footage was “likely shot for an unreleased/unaired Japanese paranormal TV documentary.”

Without Kubrick appearing on screen, there’s no confirmation that this is actually his explanation, though many in the comments section (that bastion of truth) believe it to be none other than the man himself. Based on the access afforded to Yaoi while shooting his The Shining documentary, one can imagine he had the opportunity to talk with Kubrick.

But as one commenter puts it: “Mindblowing that this just appears out of nowhere.”

The final scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey have been the subject of fervent debates, by fans and critics alike, for the past 50 years. As the Star Child overlooks the Earth and the music swells, many have questioned what it means. An allegory for human existence? Our future in the stars? A pessimistic view of the meaning of life?

We may finally have an answer.

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