(WARNING!: Spoilers if you haven't seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" yet. And if you haven't, why the hell not? For the love of God! IT'S 2001!)
He took a cleaver to "Heaven's Gate", Took out all the color and soundtrack to "Raiders" so we could focus on the staging, mashed up Hitchcock and Van Sant. And now, he's fired up his editing software and taken it where few remixers would dare.
He's recut Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey".
"maybe this is what happens when you spend too much time with a movie: you start thinking about it when it’s not around, and then you start wanting to touch it. 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's clear from the posting that Soderbergh has nothing but respect for the film. And I'm sure that his recutting is more akin to tinkering under the hood of a '68 Camaro then defacing a War Memorial.
Having said that, it's a Goddamn brutal cut. Soderbergh has a reputation for being a ruthless editor on his own films, sometimes to his own detriment. (And you should really take the time to listen to the Commentary Track for "The Limey". Screenwriter Lem Dobbs totally ignores the unwritten rule that you loved all your collaborators all the time and calls him on cutting what he felt were some strong emotional beats for the sake of narrative propulsion.) And he's no less ruthless with Kubrick. He cut out fifty-one minutes from it. He streamlined "The Dawn of Man" sequence added music. He cut 98% of the space station sequence and took out the entire subplot of the Moonbase's quarantine, (Thus earning the ire of Leonard Rossiter fans forever.) except for a few brief moments at the beginning of Heywood Floyd's briefing when the photographer is taking pictures. And that scene's inclusion is the recut's one false note. With all the supporting material gone, an audience who hasn't seen the film would be confused by it. (Unless...and this just occured to me...that he's counting on the video message from Heywood Floyd to the Discovery we see after HAL's lobotomy to fill in all those blanks. Which would be a very Soderbergh-ian thing to do.)
More over, he changed the opening. Instead of Richard Strauss and the sunrise over Earth, we get the multicolored blinking of Dave Bowman from the last section of the film intercut with a close-up of the HAL 9000's eye.
And he also cuts in HAL's eye everytime the monolith appears, as if to suggest that the HAL 9000 is in cahoots with the aliens who made it. At least, that's the way it seems to read to me. Your milage may vary.
So yeah, it's an interresting intellectual exercise. It's certainly worth watching to see Soderbergh wrap his head around the movie in a very public way. (I'm still wondering if at some point, the Kubrick estate is going to step in and tell him to knock it off. But if he's making no money on it and doing it for his own intellectual edification, I'm assuming that it falls under fair use. If there's a copyright lawyer in the house, feel free to sound off in the comments below.)
Also, if nothing else, maybe it'll get Lem Dobbs off his ass and make his own re-cut of "The Limey".