Rob Ager cites an e-mail in his written analysis of 2001. The e-mail states that in the 90s the original film had been released in Hollywood theatres for a short time. In this release you'd see a simulated film reel skip on screen, exactly at that moment when the glass breaks on the ground in the alien zoo.

"Sometime in the 1990's they had released the original 70mm film in Hollywood for a short period of time and I and my girlfriend went to go see it. One thing happened in it that I wanted to share with you. At the moment the wine glass shatters near the end of the film, the film itself noticeably skipped, like the physical film reel was damaged. In the theatre I immediately laughed, because knowing Kubrick this was not a mistake. It goes beautifully with the interpretation that there are moments in the film where we are staring at nothing other than the actual monolith itself (the screen.) By having an error occur in the film on 2 levels at once, it's the film trying to step out of itself, a theme which is intimately tied in with the nature and mystery of consciousness, which I speculate that Kubrick was trying to express."

There seems to be no confirming information about this "skip" on the internet. Does anybody know something about that?

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    For what it's worth, I recently read Michael Benson's Space Odyssey: Stanly Kubrick, Arthur C. Clark and the Making of a Masterpiece and don't recall anything mentioned about that.
    – LAK
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:35
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    – Valorum
    Mar 27, 2019 at 15:08
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    To be honest, I think the email is from a crank who read far too much into the fact that his local theater got a duff copy of the film
    – Valorum
    Mar 27, 2019 at 15:10
  • @LAK Thank you. I believe something meaningful like a deliberate film skip would be mentioned in a Making of. Mar 28, 2019 at 18:25
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    @Valorum I think so too. A deliberate skip wouldn't make much sense in the context of the movie. I mean, Rob Ager interprets the scenes in the alien zoo as 'Bowman discovering that he's in a movie and is thus able to leave its narrative'. While I think that some of his ideas are interesting and true when you isolate dialogue lines and scenes, I also think that he's wrong by and large. According to Kubrick the movie is meant to make the viewer think, but you can't just project everything in its story. Well, thanks so far to you/you all. Mar 28, 2019 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Having reviewed several versions of the film, including an older VHS copy, I think we can be reasonably certain that whatever happened wasn't something that was intentional. There's no obvious 'break' in the film at the point mentioned, as can be seen in the video below.

What seems far more likely is that the film reel split and that it was repaired ('spliced') by the projectionist, creating an imperfect join, which is what this person saw and assumed was intentional.

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