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Sci-fi masterpiece 2001 gets a surprise 110-minute edit from Steven Soderbergh

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How, and why, would you put your own hand to something that's already a masterpiece?

The retired director Steven Soderbergh doesn't have a very good answer, but his edit of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a bracing 110 minutes. That means he cut over 50 minutes from the original, and the film's pacing and even themes have been re-worked and re-imagined. It's not better, and I'm not even sure it's good, but it's certainly interesting.

I can't embed it, and it may not be around forever, so please go watch it while you can. As an interesting experiment in editing from a very talented mind it can't be beat. Soderbergh discusses the edit on his blog, and I'll give you a taste of that explanation without any editing.

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.

This edit is certainly a big idea, and like the black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you can learn a good amount about the art of editing and storytelling by watching this version of a great movie.

Soderbergh has certainly had an interesting "retirement," and we can only hope these sorts of experiments continue.