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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    December 4, 2013

    jim henson’s The Dark Crystal is the first movie i ever saw multiple times, seven if i remember correctly. i think it was probably thanks to its seemingly mature themes of the complex interactions between good and evil. or because they were just slammin’ puppets, either one. now, it seems someone founda workprint of the much darker version henson wanted to put out but the studio wouldn’t. it is a gift to the procrastinators of the world…

    from the youtube page:

    Early versions of The Dark Crystal were a bit different than the version we see today. Jim Henson and Frank Oz originally sought to create a much darker story that relied more on the audience and less on voice-overs and inner monologues explaining the plot. In this version there’s no narrator, Jen’s inner monologues are gone, and the Skeksis hardly ever say anything in English (Aughra speaks some Skesis too!). This version is much more modern and a little darker with this original audio and the slightly different score. Some of the scenes are moved around too, which adds to the surreal feel of the original film. Some test audiences were more casual moviegoers and responded negatively to this version so the Henson team redubbed the ENTIRE film to help explain the plot to the audience up front and make things more obvious.

    Sadly this beautiful version was mostly lost with a few rough-looking (yet still redubbed at times) scenes making it to the DVD and Blu-Ray versions. Demonoid user Aikousha saw this early test version when he was a kid and took it upon himself to track down this little bit of film history. What he found was a very nasty black & white “workprint” copy (used by the production team) on a VHS tape that was very grainy and was almost unlistenable due to tape compression and SEVERE hiss and noise. But the important thing was that it was a mostly intact version of the beautiful vision of Jim Henson, Brian Froud, and Frank Oz. The Dark Crystal, as originally intended!

    Workprints are used by the production crew and this one has all the trappings of one. Grease marks on the film, rough cuts, tape slowdown, and unfinished special effects among other things. Now, this workprint is still out floating around on the internet but it’s really painful to watch and the sound is atrocious so I took it upon myself to clean up the audio, sync it to a clean treatment of the video, include some scenes that were unavailable anywhere else, and recut a watchable version that played out like the workprint.

    Disclaimer: It’s still a little rough. My computer had lots of slowdown since I was syncing to a HQ vid and some of the missteps in editing weren’t noticeable until the 5 hour render was complete! They’re minor and not frequent so it might only take you out of the moment briefly.

    Black and white scenes were included from the workprint occasionally since they’re not available elsewhere. They include: A matte painting of the Skeksis castle that pans down to the ‘lost’ Jen swimming scene, an extended clip of ‘Trial By Stone’, an extended scene in Aughra’s home, and a little extra at the end.

    Deleted funeral scenes from the DVD are restored to their proper place.

    Credit goes to Demonoid user Aikousha for finding the workprint and making it available. If anyone wishes to attempt restoring the black and white scenes I’ll gladly include them in a new edit of the film. For the record I attempted to contact the Henson company earlier this year when I had about half of the edit complete to ask about sharing this on youtube but they never responded to my inquiry. Also, I just found out today (Dec 2nd) that someone else attempted this same idea and called it “The Darker Crystal” and released it in September. This is NOT his version. I haven’t seen his version but I’m sure mine is similar to his.

    I began working on this over 2 years ago and finally finished it last week. Lots of work but it was worth it. Rant over.

    Enjoy!

    oh yeah, enjoy alright!…

    June 17, 2013

    growing up in the 70s and wanting to tell visual stories, how could you not get enraptured by the style of these two gentlemen?… Lucas and Spielberg defined what being a filmmaker should be when I entered film school in the early 90s yet disappointingly failed to renew their ownership of the medium in the past decade or more. I have often theorized that they simply do not seem to care enough, what with all the success, accolades, bank accounts and yes men, about the stories they are telling, that it is very hard to be enraptured in the stories of others when no longer in congress with those “others.”

    but that is when these two short-form programs fell on my lap this weekend and reminded me of the history, passion and intelligence that made them who they were. if only they would watch to remind themselves not what or why but of how curious they seemed to be, then perhaps they might take a break to again find the sparks on display here. sparks that flew a few days go, the unmistakable sign that a fire still burns and needs some harnessing.

    of note in the Lucas video, Coppola’s “the kid has wasted his life attitude” and the wonderful dynamic between producers willard huyck and gloria katz.

    March 1, 2013

    hey, nerds, you’ve heard of that almost mythical french behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the empire strikes back that only aired on dutch television, right? right. well, it’s finally on youtube and i figured that the day america goes to shit would be perfect timing to embed on here for your viewing pleasure as we feel our country burn outside our windows. stream while you still can! and then, RUUUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!

    January 17, 2013

    what i mean by that salacious and bound-to-be controversial post title sure to send the taste police to my door is that i’m actully going to be out all day running errands working and i wanted to leave you with something that would satiate you for long enough to forget my lack of inane daily updates about our crazy, crazy world. and i found such treasure in luis bunuel’s 1967 masterpiece “belle de jour.” yes, the whole thing. as much as it awoke in me and my pants feelings heretofore unknown when it screened on television a bit too early for comfort during my pre-teenhood in france, it shall keep you busy during your lunch hour and more, if you’re lucky. so, in the words of another icon, lie back, get comfortable and here’s catherine deneuve in a role you’ll not soon forget…

    January 14, 2013

    oped-new7

    for a while i have been looking for some just and eloquent way to express my disconcerted opinion about the tenuous relationship between violence in art and violence in life that some people are trying to make the argument for in the aftermath, and continuing disasters, that are senseless shootings of innocent people. turns out, stanley kubrick had already perfectly articulated such feelings in an interview with noted french critic michel ciment at the time of the release of “a clockwork orange.” because of course. you can read the full interview here but i excerpted the relevant passage for your convenience:

    “There has always been vio­lence in art. There is vio­lence in the Bible, vio­lence in Homer, vio­lence in Shake­speare, and many psy­chi­a­trists believe that it serves as a cathar­sis rather than a model. I think the ques­tion of whether there has been an increase in screen vio­lence and, if so, what effect this has had, is to a very great extent a media-defined issue. I know there are well-intentioned peo­ple who sin­cere­ly believe that films and TV con­tribute to vio­lence, but almost all of the offi­cial stud­ies of this ques­tion have con­clud­ed that there is no evi­dence to sup­port this view. At the same time, I think the media tend to exploit the issue because it allows them to dis­play and dis­cuss the so-called harm­ful things from a lofty posi­tion of moral supe­ri­or­i­ty.

    But the peo­ple who com­mit vio­lent crime are not ordi­nary peo­ple who are trans­formed into vicious thugs by the wrong diet of films or TV. Rather, it is a fact that vio­lent crime is invari­ably com­mit­ted by peo­ple with a long record of anti-social behav­iour, or by the unex­pect­ed blos­som­ing of a psy­chopath who is described after­ward as hav­ing been ‘…such a nice, quiet boy,’ but whose entire life, it is later real­ized, has been lead­ing him inex­orably to the ter­ri­ble moment, and who would have found the final osten­si­ble rea­son for his action if not in one thing then in anoth­er. In both instances immense­ly com­pli­cat­ed social, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal forces are involved in the indi­vid­ual’s crim­i­nal behav­iour.

    The sim­plis­tic notion that films and TV can trans­form an oth­er­wise inno­cent and good per­son into a crim­i­nal has strong over­tones of the Salem witch tri­als. This notion is fur­ther encour­aged by the crim­i­nals and their lawyers who hope for mit­i­ga­tion through this excuse. I am also sur­prised at the extreme­ly illog­i­cal dis­tinc­tion that is so often drawn between harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence of, say, “Tom and Jerry” car­toons or James Bond movies, where often sadis­tic vio­lence is pre­sent­ed as unadul­ter­at­ed fun. I has­ten to say, I don’t think that they con­tribute to vio­lence either. Films and TV are also con­ve­nient whip­ping boys for politi­cians because they allow them to look away from the social and eco­nom­ic caus­es of crime, about which they are either unwill­ing or unable to do anything.”

    that last point about the difference between “harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence” is what gets me the most as the line seems to me as thin as carpaccio. so used are we to “everyday violence” that we wouldn’t dream of blaming it, would we? only the new and improved violence should be considered for censorship, that of gaspard noé (nsfw) or the used (nsfw) fitting the bill nicely when that of volkswagen or disney are too common to be anything but accepted and acceptable. shall we then eliminate it all? keep it all albeit overseen by a select few who guard the rest of us from exposure to “the hard stuff?” and if so, who?… there are no satisfying answers to these questions, only the study of the past and opinions of the students of that past. per mr. kubrick, i conclude what they do, that the argument is mere distraction.

    have as peaceful a week as possible.