A Beautiful Nightmare

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Brief Synopsis:
This is the story of Boxer Santaros, and his journey down the road not taken. Set in the slight future, Boxer Santaros (played by Dwayne Johnson) becomes caught in the struggle for political power, love, and ultimately his own existence, in this darkly humored, sci-fi thriller. With an ensemble cast including Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seann William Scott, “a beautiful nightmare” is the tale of greed, deception and what happens when egos meddle with the 4th dimension. This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang….. and a handshake.
On a budget of 16 million, Southland Tales only grossed $374,743 at the box office. First screened at the Cannes Festival with a runtime of 2hr 34min, it was then heavily edited down in scenes, plot and tone into a 2hr 20min theatrical release. While many people praised director Richard Kelly’s vision, both versions were universally panned by audiences and critics. I found that to be a travesty, so I set out to right that wrong.

There’s some great scenes, great actors, and an excellent score in Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, but both versions (Theatrical and Cannes cut) were commercial failures that get lost in the epic scope and story. There were too many characters and plot points not properly fleshed out. There was even a three-part prequel graphic novel that was supposed to provide insight (it did not). I think what Southland Tales needed to reach any commercial success was a 3rd edit. This Chrispy Edit, now titled “a beautiful nightmare” is that edit. It combines all the soul of the 2hr 34min Cannes cut with all the best scene improvements of the 2hr 20min Theatrical cut, and combines them into a perfectly delicious 1hr 48min movie that earns your time and hopefully pays off a few emotional arcs.
Other Sources:
Nothing else. Just the audio and video from the Theatrical cut and Cannes cut of Southland Tales.
Special Thanks:
This edit has been a labor of love for over two years. Being my first foray into the world of fanedits, I was apprehensive when approaching the Academy. What I found was professional and positive support from two individuals. @ArtisDead welcomed me into the community and provided clear direction and encouragement, especially in pushing me to update the original audio from stereo to much needed 5.1. Thanks to him the entire cinematic experience leveled up with that upgrade.

And an extra special thanks to @PedanticContrarian, who dived right into my original edit and provided the fine toothed comb, moment by moment, study of every scene and transition, helping to ensure the final version reflected the most professional experience. More importantly, for me, fanediting kept me in a creative bubble, where feedback and outside perspectives were rare. @PedanticContrarian asked the real tough questions regarding plot and motivations that forced me to analyze my own intentions and helped ensure the final vision stayed true to my original intentions.
Release Information:
Editing Details:
The rules I gave myself were simple but specific: 1) Only use the audio and video from both the Cannes cut and Theatrical cut, and nothing else. No external audio or video sources or even soundtrack would be used. 2) Create a transformative and unique experience out of the source material while making the viewer feel invested in the characters. 3) Get it all done in less than two hours.
Cuts and Additions:
-General edit: reorganized all movie scenes to fix plot confusion
-created an entirely new intro scene, that establishes a better character hook and mystery relating to the main plot, layering audio from original TC intro
-added new title card “a beautiful nightmare”
- narrator intro with audio dub
-realigned narrative introduction of boxer, overlappings audio from different scenes together, as well as repurposing footage
- newly establishes Krista Now character, streamlines flow, combines different scenes together, added background audio from different scenes, creates different element of mystery to boxer’s confusion
- creates new neo-marxis group1 intro that combines both TC and CC audio
- fixed pronoun use by editing in boxer’s name to establish the subject.
-improves pace by transitioning directly to Frost group and USIDent
- newly edited Nana Mae Frost introduction, dubbing ‘usident’ over ‘nsa’, with a scene sandwich of newly edited USIDENT introduction that keeps focus on Nana Mae, then transitions into Frost campaign team introduction.
- combines two separate Frost team scenes together as one new scene, streamlining neo Marxist1 interaction and dialog.
- Newly edited intro of Ronald, adding scene sandwich of newly edited neo marxis group 2 introduction, simplifies plot, then streamlined introduction into Boxer’s pitch.
- added wave background sound from end credits to the Pitch Meeting. Super easy, barely an inconvenience.
-Edits into improved intro of fluid karma and Treer group, streamlined narration.
-new transition to boxer and roland on patrol, scene trimmed to simplify plot
-newly edited and streamlined Neo Marxis group2 hideout scene, introduction of Kenny
-newly edited Starla scene, beautifully combining two separate scenes into one coherent scene.
- newly edited scene of Nana Mae watching team Krista, combining the subtle crunch of an incessant snack between two separate characters.
- extended establishing shot of next scene, made audio dub between TC and CC, to maintain plot clarity. Streamlined Neo marxist2 preparation scene.
- streamlined café scene and small world books scene.
- new and improved raid scene, combining TC and CC scene together, edited and reorganized shots, with better UPU3 entry and approach. Includes edited version of the CC scene with UPU3 finding cache of severed thumbs.
-new transition to boxer and ronald on the road, getting the call.
-tightened up Dion and Dream psyching themselves into character.
- sparingly trimmed scene leading to entry of domestic call. The entry scene and use of Moby song is one of my favorite cinematic moments and is part of what endears me to this film. Slight echo effect of “who am I?” taken from when it’s said again at the end of movie and layered on this scene.
- strategically trimmed and spliced Wave of Mutation song and scene.
-added momentary lake meade flashback.
-included trimmed CC scene of officer Bart planting evidence.
-edited and streamlined Treer commercial and party intro. Trimmed phone call.
Combined audio and video from two different parts of CC and TC to establish new narrative cutaway shot
added CC Treer after-party scene.
- streamlined boxer meeting his ride
- streamlined Ronald confronting Zora, and edited departure.
- edited together smoother transition between twins and then roland’s meeting of the armorer, shortened scene.
- trimmed boxer’s arrival and entry to the after party. Removed entirely the narration, and adding looped audio from another part of the scene. Realigned jump scenes leading up to Krista’s arrival.
-edited zora and bart’s interaction, audio transition into next scene.
- edited the “Melrose Place” scene to streamline plot.
-newly edited Boxer’s drive away from the party. Using the CC take, multiple other scenes were edited into the departure song, better pacing the plot, and better placement of boxer behind the wheel for a slightly more emotional ride, and smoothly combined the TC and CC transitional scenes of Baron and Simon moving the paladin body, while maintaining the departure song throughout. Better transition into the second arc of the story.

-removed krista’s energy drink can clanking on the ground while meeting zora
- tightened dialog between Krista and sheena
-tightened the flow of Ronald approaching Martin and getting in his truck.
- new and improved interaction between Cindy and Von Smallhouse, tightens the plot, including the removal of cindy originally saying “I don’t work in distribution” (only to then later say she’s going to distribute her upcoming movie).
-tightened up Starla’s stalking, and Zora and Cindi’s phone call.
-Tweaked narrator’s premonition scene
-Used CC beach scene including “through he looking glass” comment, added the same mystery shot from the movie’s new intro during mental break moment.
-massaged audio of CC scene of Krista driving to the poop deck, into TC scene of Zora and Bart arriving city center, keeping the music flowing through.
- mixed TC and CC scenes together to make a better bar fight scene and narrative flow, particularly relating to the audio track and rapid scene cuts of the girls fleeing the bar.
- blended together the cut from Nana Mae’s office to boxer on the strip meeting Fortunio.
-Trimmed boxer’s abduction
- Edited together the transitional scene of cindy, with narrative overdub of armourer seamlessly mixing and blending right into a delicious plot propelling combo of Simon talking to Cindy from another scene. Repurposed and looped in-movie soundtrack over the scene.
-reorganized plot advancing shots
- mixed CC video with TC audio of roland and martin drive scene
- tightened and edited Boxer and wife’s penthouse interaction
- streamlined Krista and the baron.
- Edited the mega zepplin intro scene mixing CC and TC audio.
-Created an entirely new and improved scene structure for the final act.
-added music to rising zepplin shot
-much better edit of roland and martin driving and then accessing ATM, tightened flow, including a fun little audio dub.
- Immediately goes into a newly edited National Anthem scene, skillfully combining the best of both TC and CC anthem scenes together to improve the start of the scene as well as end of the scene. It’s beautiful.
- tightened up boxer and wife scene. Also removing the extra kiss.
-reorganized short scenes to keep narrative flow.
-edited the lead-up shots of boxer heading to the marx suite, layering CC narrative audio, trimming as needed.
-made slight tweak so boxer doesn’t flinch until after Simon draws the gun
-new establishing shot for marx suite scene, mixed shots to change the order of dialog and more accurately accentuate Boxer’s pimpness.
-tightened scene of boxer confronting serpentine, using CC audio with TC footage to create the best narrative flow, eliminating mid-scene cut away. Added music to final segment of scene with TC and CC audio layered.
-Edited together a proper sequence of timing for the twins collision.
-mixed TC footage with CC audio as boxer exits lounge, mixing news cast while keeping music.
-Trimmed street fighting scenes. Tightening up Roland and Ronald meeting.
-Added both TC and CC audio for introduction of Memory Gospel scene. This scene is also one of my favorite scenes filmed, and the main emotional peak.
-removed orgy comment. boss edit.
-Total realignment of all final scenes, mixing TC and CC footage. Used CC scenes to explain Baron’s plan and ultimate betrayal. Mixing a new flow of Martin’s ascension, and ballroom confrontation.
-adds back the second best emotional arc with cindy and von smallhouse.
-new narrative ending, new order of all scenes, creating new emotional stakes, mixing TC and CC together, while creating a mystery of what is real and what is just a nightmare. Combining multiple different audio layers.
-fade to white and song. Looped and extended song intro.

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(Updated: February 20, 2024)
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As ArtisDead explained in his review of this reimagining and combination of the original two film cuts I did indeed preview this edit though of course it was under his supervision so fear not higher ups of this marvellous site despite me being an unbadged editor although that rank may change or may have changed depending on what point in time you are reading or rereading this review I judged Crispy's application of ideas for this edit in an honest and constructive manner and he not only took my constructive criticism like a champ but he was able to keep a cool head where he calmly and logically explained to me why some of my suggestions for improving the edit wouldn't have worked out with excellent maturity.

It was an honour for me to be assigned the role of an official previewer by an Academy Member and to ultimately help Crispy get his Faneditior Badge, when the time came Art and I were both in unanimous agreement that this edit was ready to sit among the many great fanedits in the heralded shelves of the IFDB library. Should I get an opportunity to preview another edit officially again with an Academy Members blessing than I would gladly take up the offer once again as I do a fair bit of reviewing of other fanedits on this site as a fun and constructive pastime anyway and it has the benefit of improving my own understanding and skills as a Faneditor.

Now onto our feature presentation and to start with there is some fantastic sound overlaying throughout especially in the beginning that made for efficient delivery of exposition well maintaining some of the mystery and intrigue that surrounded the main core plots premise that being the identity and moral crisis of Ronald Reagan who's true name is revealed later and Boxer Santaros particularly in relation to their little amnesia and redemption arcs as from a psychological perspective I found said story arcs to be both fascinating and terrifying as the very notion of one's memory being wiped and exploited by other people especially people who you thought were your allies but turn out to be your cruel and agenda obsessed masters and oppressors is borderline paranoia fuel and adds a heart wrenching layer of despair to the character's narratives.

When one is stripped of their memory and identity who does one turn to when that sickening void of anxiety induced paranoia envelopes them and would there be anyone one could reliably turn to in such a situation? yet ironically both characters fragmented pursuit of clarity leads to their redemption with Reagen coming to redeem himself and others around him and especially him in both a morale and biblical sense while Boxer redeems himself through gaining assertive control and ultimately undoing his oppressive masters agenda based schemes through his own ideological self sacrifice. That aspect of their amnesia arc is both heartwarming and reassuring and shows that even if one were to lose their sense of self they can either regain their former sense of self like with Reagen or fulfil there truth seeking journey that helps them to gain a new and better sense of self like Santaros.

Speaking of Boxer Santaros I felt that his actor managed to capture that level of escalating and quisitive sense of anxiety perfectly through the combination of his facial expressions and twiddling fingers, I am not sure how Richard Kelly directed him or what prompts he offered to said actor but whatever it was the end result of Santaros body language really sold the scenes that he was in, what didn't quite sell it for me was the whole USident and Neo Marxis conflict though that's more of a problem that I have with the original films rather than this edit though I do understand the satirical nature behind them thanks to my experience of watching The Simpsons.

Thankfully a lot of the cringe and gross humour associated with that conflict and the various news related scenes has been removed which makes this edit so much easier to sit through and honestly more enjoyable, in fact given how short it is I actually find the Fluid Karma car advert hilarious now as it sticks around long enough to be funny but not long enough for it to fall into cringe territory and given the guy's maybe it's the European version comment that now implies that the American version is barely even an advert which makes the joke both funnier and multilayered at the same time.

As I am not really a huge fan of the Krista Now character I found the moments where Santaros or someone else calls her out on her words and actions or shoots her down verbally to be very cathartic and the trims to her scenes are much appreciated, I'd say that maybe more of her dialogue could be cut but than that would completely destroy the satirical point of the character so ultimately her inclusion is a necessary evil in that regard though the inclusion in regards to that guys whole attempted suicide subplot on getting out of being enlisted for the Iraq War was truly heart wrenching and really made me feel for the guy.

He's probably my third favourite character in this thing with the second being Reagen and the first being Boxer and there's definitely a tragic yet poetic sense of irony that despite his unwillingness to kill millions abroad he ultimately ends up killing millions in the country that he tried to escape from though continuing on the subject of characters the manner in which you repurposed that guys drug induced vision was genius, I'll admit I wasn't a fan of it at first but than after seeing how it was used in the original cuts I began to understand why you placed it where you did as it's original placement felt very random and grinded the plot to a halt where as it's new placement now compliments the plot and makes a certain aspect of the films lore a much easier pill to swallow.

Had the film focused more on the interpersonal character stuff and less on the sociopolitical conflict I think it could have made for a pretty compelling psychological horror about inhumane mental conditioning and how one would seek to escape such inhumane mental conditioning otherwise I would definitely consider your version to be the definitively superior way of watching this movie.

The idea to have outtakes after the ending credits was a brilliant idea and they not only gave me a good chuckle but gave me a reason to stick round for the credits where as most of the time I'll usually stop watching once the credits start rolling, I wish more outtakes had been added to the end to be honest though I think the ones you used work pretty well.

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(Updated: January 29, 2024)
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Intended experienece: watch the film, then read the prequel book and then watch the film again hopefully now you will understand what is going on.

What you should actually do: watch this fan edit, and then watch some video on the internet explains the plot,

Southland Tales has the most inaccessable plot of all time, why?:

1. The movie starts at episode 4, ( want to know what happened in episodes 1-3, read the prequel book)
2. All the charecters dailouges don't make sense (there is an explaintaion in the movie why everyone talks so bizzare and doesn't make sense)
3. The car commercial scene
4. Too many unnecessary sub plots - Now this is the issue this fan edit fixes.

All the scenes that were removed wouldn't help you understand the plot anyway and will just add to the confusion, but it isn't like removing them make the plot easier to understand

So it is still a mess but more enjoyable as a film, but I still think more clues needed to be giving to the audience for the film to reach it's potential, maybe exposition text or Ai voices that adds narrations

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(Updated: January 18, 2024)
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This edit does what should have been done the first time it was recut by Kelly, which is keep it under 2 hours. I cannot imagine watching the Cannes cut at nearly 3 hours of extremely erratic and convoluted plot, but thanks to Chrispy I can say for the first time that I actually did enjoy this movie.

Quality and Editing are perfectly done, no issues noticed on my end at all.

Narratively, I'm shocked that you removed almost an hour of footage and there is still so much that I feel goes nowhere in this movie. HOWEVER, compared to the original this is a masterpiece and for that reason I'm giving a 9. I don't think the narrative itself is a 9 (which is why my enjoyment is low) but I think you did extremely well honing this film.

Overall I can't say I personally will watch this again but for anyone who (a) loves the original or (b) wants to watch it without losing their minds, this is the cut for you.

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