Stanley Kubrick Explains the Ending of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in a Lost 1980 Interview

In 1980 Japanese television host Jun’ichi Yaoi was making a documentary about the paranormal, which included the sublime Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, when he had the opportunity to speak with the legendary director by phone. During the conversation, Jun’ichi asked the burning question that everyone then and since then wanted to know, what was the meaning of the old man at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey? Kubrick’s answer was incredibly satisfying.

You know the old man, I mean, the idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by godlike entities creatures of pure energy and intelligence. His whole life passes from that point on in that room and he has no sense of time, it just seems to happen at the end of the film. They choose this room which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture, deliberately so inaccurate. Because you know when we suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty but weren’t quite sure. Just as we aren’t quite sure and what to do with and soothe with animals try to give them what we think is their natural you know environment.

Here’s Jun’ichi Yaoi’s documentary footage in its entirety.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.