Wednesday, April 13, 2005

We can rebuild it

I know what I want for my birthday.

Dedicated Superman film enthusiasts have long carried a torch for the never-before-seen, partially-filmed Richard Donner version of Superman II.

The hope was to recut the film to make it feel more like Donner's "Superman The Movie." Before work could seriously begin, the extended TV broadcasts needed to be acquired to include some of those great Donner moments that didn't make it into the theatrical cut.

Rolling up their sleeves, they took matters into their own hands.

So with the support of fans and friends from around the globe, the fan edit was put aside, and the business of restoring the entire film began. It took about 2 years to acquire the footage, and make it watchable, but the results were less than satisfying. The word once again went out for extended broadcasts, and both Bill Williams and Jonathan Hoyle answered the call. The choice wasn't easy, but after a lot of scrutiny, Bill's footage was the actual source chosen to improve RIC. But special thanks to Jonathan for sending his original master as well.
It's been said many times, this film will never win any quality awards. The footage supplied came from home recordings. So anyone expecting amazing detail and clarity will be sorely disappointed. But if you've seen any version of the extended broadcasts, you'll probably appreciate the way it's presented here. Great care has been taken to make the film as watchable as possible, no commercials, no subtitles, no station ID's. Thanks to the generous help of a very talented individual, even the audio got a polishing as well.

Features on the special 2-Disc set include:

- The complete two hour, twenty-six minute version of the film.
- On-screen commentary track, detailing what footage Donner shot, and other RIC trivia.
- Long out of print documentary "The Making of Superman II."
- Long out of print "Superman II Soundtrack."
- "Lost Scene Gallery" featuring pictures of Donner's unreleased work on Superman II.
- "Restoration Demonstration" showing before and after footage examples.
- Complete RIC artwork folder. All the artwork, from the cover to the disc art, it's all included in TIFF file format.

This latest fan film project not only serves as a plea for an official Richard Donner-cut version of the Superman II movie, it also represents the ongoing evolution of how technology has changed our popular culture. Not content with the theatrical release of a movie, motivated fans can now actually re-cut movies to better fit their own idealized visions. Using production notes, existing footage, digitial editing equipment, and some clever technical know-how, would-be film-makers can create their own director's cuts of films. Or, they can take the raw footage and re-edit an entirely new movie. Dedicated fans can apply updated SFX to beloved-yet-outdated sci-fi flicks. In short, what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, any fan (with the right equipment and knowledge) can now do to the movie of their choosing.

We've already moved beyond simply burning copies of cult classics onto DVRs; we are now in the future, where pre-existing movies become the fodder for an endless array of new and unique fan fiction. It's the new do-it-yourself cinema. Movies just the way you like it. And if you don't like it...well, you can just fix that, too, with a few keystrokes.