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Thread: The reason for "alternate" ending?

  1. #1
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    The reason for "alternate" ending?

    Not exactly an "alternate" ending, but in one version of the movie, why were a few critical words changed in the letter from Kane that Cutshaw read?

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    Administrator Ryan's Avatar
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    Here you go:

    "Kane's Great Sacrifice"

    From its earliest incarnation as a short sixties novel entitled Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane, the story of The Ninth Configuration has climaxed with the character of Kane taking his own life in order to give Cutshaw one of example of a genuinely selfless act. During the filming of Kane's final moments, in which a bloody knife is seen to drop from his hand, actor Stacy Keach apparently entreated Blatty to shoot a 'safety take' without the knife. Although all early release versions of the film use the 'knife-drop' shot, the later 'Director's Cut', which was struck for New World in the mid-eighties, utilized the 'non-knife' take for which Keach argued. Blatty's reasons for this crucial change were complex, but centered ultimately on a theological problem raised by the possibility that Kane's actions could be interpreted as suicide, a sin in Catholic doctrine. Removing the shot of the knife allowed the viewer to imagine that, rather than killing himself, Kane was simply allowing himself to die from a wound inflicted in the deadly bar-room brawl. Although this version stood for some years as the definitive 'Director's Cut', Blatty ultimately considered his decision to change the ending to have been a mistake. Thus, the original 'knife-drop' has been restored especially for this Blue Dolphin DVD release. Here is the alternate 'non-knife' version.


    "Kane's Letter From Beyond The Grave"

    Having substituted the 'non-knife' shot of Kane's demise, Blatty contacted Stacy Keach to re-record Kane's farewell letter to Cutshaw, clarifying the suggestion that he had not killed himself, but rather had allowed himself to die. Although the picture itself remained unchanged, Keach's new voice-over (which was recorded at Blatty's house) entirely redefined the nature of Kane's sacrifice, beginning with the words "At the end, the biker's knife slipped in..." This version of the letter is the one heard in the so-called 'Director's Cut' released by New World in the mid-eighties, the subsequent Warner Home version in the US, and indeed the Blue Dolphin UK theatrical re-release print in 1999. It has been replaced with its original counterpart especially for the Blue Dolphin DVD release, following Blatty's eleventh hour change of heart regarding the 'softer' ending.
    What we give to the poor is what we take with us when we die.

    The "Keeper of the Ninth"

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    I wasn't even aware there was a "soft" ending until just recently.To me, removing Kane's self-sacrifice totally negated the point of the movie and the conversations between Kane and Cutshaw. Kane taking his own life meant he gave Cutshaw the "One Example" he was so desperately seeking. I believe the banner Kane saw hanging in the church foreshadowed what he ultimately needed to do. I also think it was brilliant that the banner text was formatted in such a way that it could be read either as "I have given you an example" or as "Have I given you an example". Anyway, the original ending had a tremendous impact on my overall appreciation of the movie. On a side note, I first watched the movie back in 1982-83 with some buddies when I was a Marine stationed in the U.K. I remember two scenes that got loud OOH-RAH's. The first was the brawl in the bar (obviously) and the other was actually when the civilian cop wanted to go get Kane but the two Marines blocked the door and told him "Hold it right there, pal". We were like, Hell Yeah! We take care of our OWN, mother fucker! Sorry to be so graphic but that was our true sentiment. Gotta tell it like it was. :-)

    Thanks for explaining the alternate ending and providing the videos. This is a great site you have here and I appreciate having found it. - deejay

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    Administrator Ryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deejay View Post
    I remember two scenes that got loud OOH-RAH's. The first was the brawl in the bar (obviously) and the other was actually when the civilian cop wanted to go get Kane but the two Marines blocked the door and told him "Hold it right there, pal". We were like, Hell Yeah! We take care of our OWN, mother fucker! Sorry to be so graphic but that was our true sentiment. Gotta tell it like it was. :-)

    Thanks for explaining the alternate ending and providing the videos. This is a great site you have here and I appreciate having found it. - deejay
    I just shared that little anecdote with Bill Blatty, I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it.

    Thank you for the comments re: the website. I hope you enjoy your stay here.
    What we give to the poor is what we take with us when we die.

    The "Keeper of the Ninth"

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    I remember originally watching the directors cut in the 80’s with the ending where Kane dies because of the biker’s knife wound. I interpreted that, because of the nature of the wound and his weakness, that he was unaware of his injury until the last moments and allows this one good act to stand as an example, to the astronaut, that goodness does exist in the world. The theological point in this ending mirrors the New Testament writing of Christ, the ultimate sign of goodness and sacrifice. “No one has greater love then he who lays down his life for a friend”. The reason that I prefer this ending over Kane committing suicide, which is the current ending in DVD, is that killing oneself is a sinful act. I’m not a bible thumper, but let me align with what I think Blatty was doing here in his script.
    The character of Kane goes to war and becomes and is used as a killing machine. His acts of violence are really not personal. He is doing the bidding of others so there is no goodness or meaning in his acts. Killing is a sin and after the beheading of this boy the cumulative acts of the violence he has committed have a profound effect on his psychological make up rendering him as an almost Christ like figure. He is patient and understanding and does service to others etc. This I interpret as his soul trying to heal itself because of his atrocious acts. Through subsequent action, without premeditation, he performs an act of goodness when he defends and saves the life of his patient the astronaut. This new action is to use violence, for the first time in his life, in the meaningful defense of his patient’s life. Then kills himself so his patient has one good example? Suicide is a sin. It negates the transformation and new action of the character in the newest DVD version.
    In the directors cut Kane’s new action regrettably leads to his being mortally wounded by another. His action results in sacrifice and in this sacrifice his patient has new hope that there is selflessness and good in the world. He doesn't have to kill himself to give the good example. This act of Kane’s is pure and an untarnished example of Christian sacrifice. There is redemption in his act in the directors cut and not condemnation. The sacrifice he makes in the directors cut is one that all Christians are asked to understand in Christ’s example. The astronaut refers to him as a lamb. How fitting!
    The directors cut illustrates three of the most perplexing questions of the human condition. Is there selflessness and good in the world? Is there an afterlife? And is there redemption for sin? In this version all are possible.
    Last edited by deano; 11-29-2014 at 10:22 PM.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
    The Ninth Configuration (also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane) is a 1980 American psychological drama film directed by William Peter Blatty. It is based on Blatty's novel The Ninth Configuration (1978), which was itself a reworking of an earlier version of the novel, first published in 1966 as Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane!. The initial 1966 publication of the novel featured an exclamation mark at the end of the title, while all subsequent publications saw it removed.

    The first half of the film has the predominant tone and style of a comic farce. In the second half, the film becomes darker as it delves deeper into its central issues of human suffering, sacrifice and faith. The film also frequently blurs the line between the sane and insane. The film was recognized with the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay and two other nominations at the 38th Golden Globe Awards.

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