Oscar-winning film director Steven Soderbergh, known for movies and TV such as Che, Ocean's Eleven, Traffic, Out of Sight, and Complex favourite The Knick, has re-edited Stanley Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, shaving off about 50 minutes from the original version.
Soderbergh explained himself via his blog:
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.
It is interesting that Soderbergh of all people would approach such a sacred cow at all, given his comments regarding the tampering of filmmakers' works in the past; Soderbergh was previously part of a court case against the company CleanFlicks, which specialised in re-editing films to remove profanity, blasphemy and other potentially offensive material for its customers. He has also been an advocate of stricter laws against copyright infringement in general, advocating a "three strikes" model to discourage people from piracy and infringing on other peoples' cinematic works.
Soderbergh recently indulged in a similar project when he turned Raiders of the Lost Ark into a silent film scored to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' The Social Network soundtrack. He has also posted a video that cuts between the Gus van Sant and Alfred Hitchcock versions of Psycho (dubbed Psychos) interchangeably. The 2001 recut might not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth a watch for any cineaste as an interesting experiment into how much editing can change the tone and feel of a film.
Soderbergh's "2001" recut is available here.