Je vous en parlais vendredi dernier, un cinéma de Los Angeles a proposé la fin inédite de Phase IV lors d’un Week-end consacré aux oeuvres de Saul Bass. The Hollywood Reporter s’en ait fait l’écho aujourd’hui avec la description de la fin.
Starting with the same shots as in the theatrical version, Michael Murphy’s character James descends into the ants’ hive expecting to blow it up, ending the war with humankind’s insect adversaries. Instead, he enters a room where Kendra (Lynne Fredrick), the girl he and his partner rescued from insecticide poisoning earlier in the film, is lying in a pool of sand. She rises and approaches him, as he realizes that the ants want to join – or merge – with humanity, prompting a new evolutionary development in both species. James and Kendra find themselves running through a gantlet of geometric structures, eventually ending up in a maze where they are tested and observed in the same way that mankind tested the insects.
In a dizzying and often disturbing montage of imagery, James and Kendra become an embodiment of all mankind as a new species is created. Emerging from their transformation, the pair gazes out onto a sunset-stained landscape, realizing that humanity has reached a new level in its evolution: « Phase IV. »
Un autre témoignage d’une personne dans la salle, va plus loin dans la description (Merci à Mercador pour le détail).
« Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles somehow uncovered a practically pristine reel of Bass’ final sequence that was cut from the film and screened it last night. It was incredible, to say the least.
The sequence was about 4-5 minutes long and was a visual and aural delight – one cool abstract and surreal image after the next. You see the two characters running way in the distance across pyramids, in mazes, etc. People lying on giant abstract lab tables or sitting in open square buildings as ants tower above (people are the ones being experimented on), a half submerged head of a bald man with a hole in his forehead where ants crawl out, and so much more. I truly believe if the studio had left the film intact, it would now be regarded as one of the best genre films of that era. The sequence really makes that much of a difference. It will be hard to watch the theatrical version again as it will now always seem so woefully incomplete, basically missing the entire “phase IV” sequence!
It has been thought lost for decades, but now we know the footage survives and it was in excellent shape. The original ending elevates the film from just a cool 70’s genre pic into something much more special – a visionary sci-fi classic. I’m elated to have seen the footage (they actually showed it twice to the sold-out crowd last night as the audience went wild after the first time), but am also very sad knowing it may never be seen again. This film really needs to be restored and tis amazing abstract and surreal ending reinstated. «