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The Bootleg Files: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Epilogue

BOOTLEG FILES 705: “2001: A Space Odyssey, Epilogue” (2019 fan film).

LAST SEEN: On Vimeo.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Borrowing from classic material without permission.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Negative.

Last week, this column featured a merry little fan film that mashed up the Abbott and Costello and Superman franchises. This week, we are focusing on a new fan film that has quickly become the talk of social media.

One of the most startling death scenes in film history involved the murder of the astronaut Frank Poole in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” And while Poole disappears after his death in the Kubrick classic, the character’s fate gets a rewrite in a new three-and-a-half-minute production called “2001: A Space Odyssey, Epilogue.”

As every “2001” addict recalls, the spacecraft’s artificial intelligence computer HAL 9000 becomes convinced that the on-board astronauts are going to disconnect him (it?) after generating a report of a failing antenna control device that is determined to be erroneous. Poole and fellow astronaut Dave Bowman agree to check out whether the antenna control device is functional or failing, with Poole going into a pod that will enable him to space walk around the external technology for an examination.

In the Kubrick film, the only sound we hear in this sequence is Poole’s mechanized breathing in his spacesuit as he pilots a pod from the main spacecraft to the external antenna. Bowman is within the ship, watching Poole’s progress via video and computer screen data. Poole emerges from the pod and floats across a stretch of space with some sort of tool in his hand. The pod then silently turns to focus on Poole, its external arms unwinding and opening like weapons. The pod faces directly into the camera and moves forward. Quick editing zooms in on the red lens that has been used earlier to give a directional point to HAL’s dialogue.

The breathing abruptly stops and Bowman looks to a video screen to see Poole spiraling wildly into space. There is no further sound as Poole twirls violently with the oxygen hose to his spacesuit flapping freely behind him. He tries repeatedly to force a reconnection. Poole’s pod spins out of control in one direction as Poole is projected in a separate route. But his body has quickly become still, and his suffocation death was obviously quick. Bowman takes a pod from the spacecraft to retrieve his body, which is grasped by the pod’s external arms. But when HAL refuses to allow Bowman re-entry to the spacecraft, he is forced to jettison Poole’s body to the vastness of space in order to gain readmittance.

Poole is not mentioned again in the Kubrick film. But in “2001: A Space Odyssey, Epilogue,” the character makes a surprising reappearance. This little film picks up 203 years after Poole’s murder, and the astronaut’s body is still spinning around space while György Ligeti’s “Lux Aeterna” fills the soundtrack. Poole’s body comes crashing to a surface of one of Jupiter’s moons, with a large poof of dust to show he made contact with the ground. Poole’s body lays in the lunar surface as “Also Sprach Zarathustra” booms on the soundtrack. And, as luck would have it, Poole fell in front of our old pal the Monolith, which towers over the inert body. The combination of the too-familiar Richard Strauss music and the mysterious power of the Monolith awakens the dead Poole, who raises an arm skyward as the camera zooms into the Monolith’s darkness.

And then? Well, that’s the film. We never find out if Poole is fully revived, or turned into a Star Child like his comrade Bowman, or if he winds up in a different situation. The film clearly has nothing to do with the plot of Arthur C. Clarke’s “3001: The Final Odyssey,” which offered a convoluted consideration of Poole’s post-HAL life. However, no one ever got around to make a film of that book.

This little film has no credits and was posted to Vimeo by someone named Steve Begg. There is a prominent visual-effects professional in the film industry named Steve Begg who has been associated with the more recent James Bond films – I assume this is the same person, as his Facebook page has “2001” related imagery. Begg’s considerable skills would explain why this film looks so polished – few fan films ever look as good as this – but why he opted to make an unauthorized follow-up to the classic is as mysterious as the Monolith.

“2001: A Space Odyssey, Epilogue” quietly turned up on Vimeo earlier this month and has generated roughly 30,000 views to date – as well as multiple comments on the Vimeo page concerning how Begg got his science wrong in considering Poole’s trajectory. There has been a lot of positive talk about this work on Facebook and Twitter. And, to be cruel, it’s nice to have a fan film that isn’t aping Lucas or Spielberg.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: While this weekly column acknowledges the presence of rare film and television productions through the so-called collector-to-collector market, this should not be seen as encouraging or condoning the unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either through DVDs or Blu-ray discs or through postings on Internet video sites.

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