Abyss, The: Revisited Edition
Fear, hate, faith, and love are the ultimate themes that pervade this story, and hopefully this edit makes the movie a bit less “1980s summer blockbuster” and more of a timeless first contact story that can be compared to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “2001,” and “Contact.”
- NTSC DVD-9
My intent with this edit is three-fold:
1. “Fix” the ending as best as possible, to at least make it more palatable than the existing ones. In this respect, I have chosen neither original ending (though it most closely resembles the theatrical release). My ending rides on the crest of the emotions generated by events just witnessed, and gets us to the finish line much sooner — removing almost all dialog — while still giving the audience the happy-ending “payoff” it deserves (and a glimpse at what we really want to see) after the dramatic roller-coster ride that is the Abyss.
2. Tone down the “war” aspect so that new audiences to this movie are not distracted by the “Tom Clancy USA vs Russia” type environment. This involves two main editing decisions. First, removing reference to Russia as the potential enemy. This allows the movie to have a more “timeless” feel, as opposed to firmly set in a “cold war” environment. Second, remove the sudden brink-of-world-war-3 subplot topside. It really is not a necessary subplot, and (as I will shortly mention) is an extra layer that distracts from the movie’s true strengths.
3. FOCUS the movie on the human drama of being trapped underwater near a “bottomless pit” and a sunken nuclear sub, and the first contact storyline. The Abyss was a “summer blockbuster” which is usually action-film oriented in order to grab a supposedly less-serious-minded audience’s attention, who just wants pure entertainment. Thus, there are many action-movie type elements that, while probably important to have when released, no longer are needed to tell the story at the heart of this movie. So, for example, I have removed the initial sub-crash and top-side banter, instead starting us underwater — and keeping us there — until the hurricane. The sub crash, while an exciting and intense way to start the movie, unfortunately makes the next hour feel a bit “boring,” especially during the later search of the drowned sub we already saw. This way, tension can slowly mount and gives a more eerie/claustrophobic feel to the first 40 or so minutes.
While most people equate the “Special Edition” with its expanded/changed ending, there are actually many improvements to the entire movie with added scenes that focus on characterization.
One final very important note for viewers of this edit:
At this point I need to point out that the video quality for this edit is going to be disappointing. This is because of the source material. While I am using the R6 edition that is anamorphic (all others, including R1, are letterboxed), there is also a huge amount of EE going on that noticeably reduced video quality. Additionally, there is a lot of graininess in some scenes. Some grain was intentional (by Cameron, as I recall reading somewhere) but not this much.
More on the poor source quality of The Abyss:
(Originally Posted by elbarto1)
“nothing is worse than The Abyss.
every transfer of that film [including the R6 Anamorphic one] is awful.
may as well be a compressed xvid FFS.”
The Abyss: Revisited Edition Cutlist
Runtime: 141 minutes
OTR: Original Theatrical Release (Runtime: 138 minutes)
SE: Special Edition Release (Runtime: 171 minutes)
REMOVED: Cut from both the OTR and the SE.
SE_REMOVED: Cut from just the SE (it never existed in the OTR).
SE_ADDED: Material included from the SE that wasn’t in the OTR
SE_REMOVED: opening quote from Nietzsche (“when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”).
REMOVED: The beginning Sub Crash and topside arrival scene with Seals and Lindsey.
REMOVED: Beginning dialog about “milking this job.” The movie now starts underwater with a long shot of the rig, divers working, and cuts to Bud turning away from a window to do work.
REMOVED: Bud’s line: “Keep your pantyhose on.”
SE_ADDED: Bud’s phone conversation with topside is extended beyond just saying, “What’s up?” He listens to the response and after a few seconds, screams “WHAT?!”
SE_ADDED: Hippy controlling an ROV by remote, and then Bud enters and announces to the crew that they are being recalled. The crew gathers in the moon pool and Bud explains to them why they’ve been called back inside.
REMOVED: First mention of the Hurricane as part of the reason why the Navy needs to use the rig.
REMOVED: All Topside scenes (other than via Deepcore’s TV Monitors) until the Hurricane hits. This keeps us a bit more claustrophobic and isolated below the sea.
SE_ADDED: As One Night is towing the rig, she is listening to a country song on her tape deck. Bud and Hippy hear the song coming through the intercom and join in the singing. A small extract of this scene was used in the OTR.
REMOVED: Coffey’s very first hand tremor, to delay us knowing he has decompression sickness until later.
SE_ADDED: Bud shows Lindsey to her room and asks whether she is still seeing her new boyfriend. They begin having a discussion about why they broke up in the first place, and it turns into an argument. They exchange comments and then Bud leaves the room.
SE_ADDED: Bud’s confrontation with Coffey after Coffey explains the mission to the crew.
REMOVED: Reflection of the actual alien in Jammer’s helmet. This is to not “spoil” what the actual aliens look like until the end of the movie.
REMOVED: When discussing what Lindsey saw, the SEALS don’t conjecture it might have been Russian. Phase II is authorized by the fact that something was seen but what is still unknown.
REMOVED: All topside TV reports and the crew watching them.
SE_REMOVED: All extra topside TV reports and the crew watching them. There is no longer a quick escalation between the US and Russia that puts the world on the brink of WWIII in a matter of hours.
SE_ADDED: Coffey and his men opening the missile hatch to retrieve a nuclear weapon from the sunken navy submarine.
REMOVED: Before the crane falls, topside scenes are trimmed to remove some dialog within the topside ship.
REMOVED: Dialog where Bud asks topside to give more slack, and the ensuing failed dialog with the crane operator to give slack.
SE_ADDED: Bud, Hippy, and One Night surveying the damage using an ROV.
REMOVED: Bud going down a ladder and greeting Cat before finding Lindsey doing repairs.
SE_ADDED: While Bud and One Night are doing repairs in the moon pool, their conversation is extended to include talking about Bud and Lindsey’s relationship.
SE_REMOVED: One Night saying Lindsey isn’t as smart as she thinks, and “jokingly” folding her air tube. This is part of the attempt to make Lindsey more likeable and have a better relationship with One Night.
REMOVED: Before Lindsey’s alien encounter at the oxygen tanks, shortened the back-and-forth “do you read me?” banter.
REMOVED: Lindsey does not say Coffey looks and sees Russians. Instead the line is changed to be “Coffey looks and sees hate and fear.”
REMOVED: Bud telling Lindsey he can’t believe her. Scene now just ends without him replying either way.
SE_ADDED: Coffey confronting the crew about their recent contact with the NTI’s.
SE_REMOVED: Coffey’s mention about possible “Russian bogeys.”
REMOVED: When Hippy shows Bud evidence that the SEALS brought a MIRV on board, his conjecture about why is removed.
REMOVED: When Lindsey confronts Coffey about the nuclear warhead, her line about “With all that’s going on up there.”
REMOVED: When Coffey listens in to Lindsey convincing Hippy to reprogram Big Geek, all discussion about Coffey is removed. This is to help us still feel for Coffey, and not put him into lunatic status already.
SE_ADDED: Coffey staring out into the Abyss from one of the rig’s windows.
SE_ADDED: Lindsey bringing a drink to the injured navy soldier.
REMOVED: Lindsey asks “who thinks that was a Russian alien?” to Coffey.
SE_ADDED: Hippy walking down a passageway and finding the warhead missing from Coffey’s room.
SE_ADDED: Extra scene where crew discusses the NTI’s and where they might have come from.
REMOVED: Shortened the underwater “battle” sequence between Lindsey and Coffey.
REMOVED: Lindsey saying it isn’t easy being a “cast-iron bitch” taking years of practice.
SE_ADDED: Bud types to Lindsey “you always did talk too much.”
SE_REMOVED: One Night laughing at Bud saying Lindsey always talked too much.
SE_ADDED: Bud types “you’re going away” and Lindsey replies “No I’m not, I’m right here, Bud.”
SE_ADDED: Lindsey recounts a night they spent together in the dark, with two candles representing them.
REMOVED: All scenes in the alien ship once Bud falls lets go and falls to the ground. We don’t see the oxygen window open. Bud looks up, then we cut to a shot of the alien, and a fade to the sky while the alien waves to Bud.
SE_REMOVED: News reports shown to Bud by the NTIs and the subsequent sequence showing the Tsunami, nuclear weapons exploding, past wars, the tsunamis approaching and then receding, and Bud saying why they didn’t do it.
REMOVED: Topside getting back in touch with Deepcore, and subsequent talk of rescue plans.
SE_REMOVED: Hippy mentions the tsunami.
REMOVED: Bud contacting deepcore again (no contact with Bud occurs via the typing system again).
SE_REMOVED: Lindsey reporting that the NTIs have been there a long time; they sent a message and want mankind to grow up. Topside, McBride tells the military looks like they might be out of a job.
SE_ADDED: As the rig rises, beams of intense light stream in and Lindsey looks at her hands.
REMOVED: All dialog from when Lindsey says, “I love you too” until Lindsey sees Bud emerge from the alien ship.
REMOVED: Loudness of Bud dropping his helmet on the alien spaceship. You can still here it, but it isn’t so jarring/distracting.
Foreword: I haven't seen the original in sometime, which I prefer for watching edits and I also didn't review the changes (log) ahead of watching, which I also prefer. I looked at the edit list back when I downloaded the edit, but I like to not know what I'm walking into; I don't watch an edit for a few months or more after downloading it.
What I liked: You kept the feeling of adventure, excitement, and thrill that the original had for me. What was trimmed mostly felt so seamless that I wasn't always sure when you did a cut.
What I didn't: Not much, but it felt a little strange when Kimberly Scott's character "Lisa 'One Night' Standing" was moving out of the way of the crane falling and then later she was on the ship. I watched this with someone else and they even asked me what happened to her, and I had to explain she is fine but it just wasn't show how she was okay until she just appears.
Overall: I would recommend people check this out. With some small refinement this would replace the original for me but for now it sits alongside the original very well.
Extra: Keep up the good work! Also, as an adult watching this rather than a child I was surprised on some of the science pitfalls but let it slide since it is a classic.
Virgil: "Keep your pantyhose on." A perfect example of a good line to remove from an edit. And there were many other beneficial cuts to this movie. The stated goal was to focus on the "first contact" aspect of the film and feeling of isolation, and remove the Cold War thread. This was accomplished for the most part. As stated by other editors, the actions of Coffey were a little strange, he seemed suddenly psychotic for apparently no reason. What distracted from the isolation feeling was the following: when they first were cut off from the ship/umbilicus, the discussion was how they would have only a particular amount of time before air would run out in Deep Core. This was really never mentioned again. Even when they were reviving the drowned Lindsey, no one bothered to acknowledge they would all likely be joining her in death soon if not somehow miraculously saved.
The editing was seamless to me. I had not seen the movie for quite some time and had no idea what the cuts were until reading about them afterwards. Based on the discussions here I will assume the quality of video was as good as it could be.
I enjoyed the movie! Quite a bit of action and suspense, in an unusual setting. I was glad not to be distracted with talk of Russians, it was all about their predicament (with the complication of a live nuke, but who hasn't had that experience?). Cheesy at times for sure, and a let down ending as with many in Hollywood, but I like how it was handled here. I may even end up watching it again with my wife, which is a pretty hefty compliment (watching it second time, not the fact it is with my wife!). Congrats!
It's been a long time since I saw the Abyss and there is a lot that i don't remember about the film, watching it again i feel the alien story line spoils the overall story but overall the film still folds up well today. seciors edit tightens James Cameron special edition (i'm never a fan of his special editions) with no noticeable cuts that take you out of the film. the ending was a little disappointing but i put that down to the fact that the ending is one of the few things i remember about the film. if your a fan of James Cameron but find his films can be a little bloated i'd recommend it
A good buddy and I went to see The Abyss when we were in high school and I'll never forget our driving around after the film in complete bewilderment at the contradicting nature of film; how could a movie that was so enthralling, so exciting and so tense have, quite literally, such an unbelievable (in a very shitty way) ending? This was the same guy who made The Terminator and Aliens?
Seciors' edit is remarkable in that it takes the best parts of The Abyss and improves on them. Unfortunately, it's still the Abyss, and short of re-shooting/creating new footage for the ending, the conclusion of the film is (yes, pun intended) Abysmal.
As the editor himself warns, there is no fixing the fact that Cameron has yet to release a decent quality version of this movie. I watched this on a 50" plasma and the image holds up as best as you can hope given the poor quality of the commercial release. Hopefully Cameron will release an anamorphic BD of this movie, and when he does, I hope seciors will revisit this project. Audio quality comes across fine. Comparing apples to apples (edit against original source) the quality is a 10, although against other edits, it's obviously not as good. No strike against the editor for this, he did his job in maintaining best possible quality.
From the opening frame, right until Bud is on the floor in the alien city, this is A+ editing. Audio and video work are invisible. If you were to show this film to someone who'd never seen the original, there is no way they'd know this was a fanedit. Seamless, invisible and professional grade work. 10/10
Seciors had a specific and concise vision for this story and he executed on his intentions spectacularly. Relieved of the Cold War sub-plot, the underlying story shines brilliantly, and the film's pacing is consistent and enjoyable. The tension is actually more palpable with both the cold war, and top-side elements removed. I already enjoyed the film (minus the ending) and this takes something that was good, and makes it great.
Excluding the ending, I would make only 2 recommendations:
1) I would recommend cutting ALL topside footage. In the end it adds very little and I think that keeping the entire film from their perspective underwater would be all the more claustrophobic and add even more to the sense of isolation that this edit already has dialed to 11. Additionally this would exclude some pretty laughable model work. Even back in the 80s I never thought I was looking at anything other than models during the crane sequence.
2) I would strongly recommend cutting Lindsey's line explaining they'll need to spend 3 weeks decompressing. With the new modified ending this line becomes red herring with no resolution and only servers to increase the WTF level of the ending.
Overall this is a 10/10 for me. Seciors has done a fantastic job with making the body of the film even better, and I never considered the main body of the film to be flawed, so to make something already good, better deserves a 10 in my book.
As greatly improved as the bulk of the film is, the ending is still the ending. Seciors does an admirable job of trying to clean-it up, make it as palatable as possible, but in the end it's still a wtf Deus-Ex-Machina ending which left me incredibly disgruntled. This is not his fault in anyway, he does an impressive job of trying to salvage the mess that will always be the killer of this film.
This is a tough call, ordinarily improving an already solid movie as much as he did should earn a full 10 on overall enjoyment, but the ending still kills everything that comes before it so I can't give a full 10, but a very enthusiastic 9.
This edit is L8wrtr Recommended :)
Sorry but i have to say i prefer the special edition. I’ve always hate the theatical release, and to be honest your edit is better than that. You have done a good job editing it into your vision but personaly i still think the special edition comes out on top. Overall 3.5 out of 5.