July 16, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. While most accept the arrival of the shuttle on the lunar surface four days later as a watershed moment in space exploration, a few cranks hold to the idea that the landing was staged and filmed by director Stanley Kubrick.
This theory has been debunked, but space program skeptics were convinced due in no small part to Kubrick’s cutting-edge work on “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which was released a year before the Apollo made moonfall and presented a credible reproduction of life in space.
Now, Kubrick’s personal script for that genre-defining film will be placed on permanent display at a museum — not at the NASA Visitor Center in Houston, but at the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv.
On July 15, the museum announced the acquisition of a 109-page hardcover screenplay used on set by Kubrick and the cast. The script will be a part of the museum’s new “Core” exhibition, slated to open in the spring of 2020, which will span three floors and 66,000 square feet of gallery space and aims to touch on Jewish history from antiquity to modernity. The inclusion of Kubrick’s script is a nod to the auteur’s continued influence on filmmaking and the scientific imagination.
“2001” remains one of Kubrick’s most cryptic works, with cinephiles still speculating as to the meaning of the film’s ending (we’re looking at you, giant space baby). Those who take a Talmudic gloss to the movie might be interested to learn the leather-bound script contains scenes that didn’t make Kubrick’s final cut and may lend additional insight into the filmmaker and his co-writer Arthur C. Clarke’s intentions.
Whether one of the scrapped scenes involves Neil Armstrong’s famed “small step” remains to be seen.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.