21 Grams Rebalanced

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21 Grams Rebalanced
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Genre:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
2003
Original Running Time:
124 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
112 minutes
Synopsis:
A more linear/chronological version of 21 Grams. This new version allows the viewer to experience the events in the same fashion as the characters, allowing a different take on the same material.
Intention:
“In this film everything has already happened, and it’s as if God, or the director, is shuffling the deck after the game is over. Here is the question we have to answer: Is this approach better than telling the same story from beginning to end?” – Roger Ebert

I have always been a huge fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful etc.) I always liked 21 Grams and never really had a problem with the fractured, non-linear structure of the story.

Some reviewers (i.e. Ebert) feel the non-linear structure was unnecessary and even a cheap trick or “stunt” that didn’t add anything to the story. I don’t really agree with this sentiment but I understand it. With that being said, my intention for this fanedit was to make a more linear and chronological version of the film.
Special Thanks:
Thanks to g1orkatsos for making the cover art, disc art, and a custom “Gatos Features” logo in the style of the “Focus Features” logo.
Thanks to LastSurvivor for designing a Main Menu and Scene Selection Menu for the DVD.
Thanks to Rogue-theX for helping me with some sound issues.
Thanks to elbarto1 for reviewing one of my early workprints.
Thanks to Neglify for reviewing a workprint.
Thanks to L8wrtr for reviewing a workprint and sending me an essay-length private message convincing me to change the order of a key scene in the movie!
Release Information:
DVD
Editing Details:
This edit is not 100% chronological. I replaced the opening scene and kept the “bookends” intact.

This edit was really like trying to put together a puzzle and figure out which scenes go where (or rather where I thought they should go). Sound editing led to some interesting results, as the beautiful score done by Gustavo Santaolalla often is spread over two scenes that are on different parts of the “time-line” of the story.

*Editor’s note: For those who haven’t watched their theatrical disk of 21 Grams in a while, it should be remembered that the theatrical edit utilizes lots of quick cuts and the film is very grainy at times (and my edit doesn’t “fix” these things).*
Cuts and Additions:

- replaced “Focus Features” logo with “Gatos Features” logo
- replace opening scene
- new title cards (in same font style as the theatrical version)
- rearranged a LOT of scenes
- removed repeated/alternate angle “look Daddy a pigeon!” scene
- removed first scene of Jack’s birthday party
- removed Paul’s first meeting with the Private Investigator
- removed Paul going to Cristina’s house and ringing the door bell
- removed Paul watching Cristina swim at the Sports Club
- removed Cristina sitting up in bed while Paul is sleeping
- removed Jack returning to the motel from work and Paul saying hello to him
- removed repeated/alternate angle “You shouldn’t have done it!” scene
- removed repeated/alternate angle “Call an ambulance!” scene
- removed repeated scene of Paul walking in the desert
- removed repeated scene of Cristina in the motel bathroom
- removed repeated/alternate angle scene of Paul sitting by the pool
- removed repeated scene of Jack walking by the motel rooms
- shortened the end credits and removed the Spanish-language “dedication”
Trailer

21 Grams Rebalanced - Disc Art - Full Size
21 Grams Rebalanced - Cover Art - FullSize Jumbo
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Genre:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
2003
Original Running Time:
124 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
112 minutes
Synopsis:
A more linear/chronological version of 21 Grams. This new version allows the viewer to experience the events in the same fashion as the characters, allowing a different take on the same material.
Intention:
“In this film everything has already happened, and it’s as if God, or the director, is shuffling the deck after the game is over. Here is the question we have to answer: Is this approach better than telling the same story from beginning to end?” – Roger Ebert

I have always been a huge fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful etc.) I always liked 21 Grams and never really had a problem with the fractured, non-linear structure of the story.

Some reviewers (i.e. Ebert) feel the non-linear structure was unnecessary and even a cheap trick or “stunt” that didn’t add anything to the story. I don’t really agree with this sentiment but I understand it. With that being said, my intention for this fanedit was to make a more linear and chronological version of the film.
Special Thanks:
Thanks to g1orkatsos for making the cover art, disc art, and a custom “Gatos Features” logo in the style of the “Focus Features” logo.
Thanks to LastSurvivor for designing a Main Menu and Scene Selection Menu for the DVD.
Thanks to Rogue-theX for helping me with some sound issues.
Thanks to elbarto1 for reviewing one of my early workprints.
Thanks to Neglify for reviewing a workprint.
Thanks to L8wrtr for reviewing a workprint and sending me an essay-length private message convincing me to change the order of a key scene in the movie!
Release Information:
DVD
Editing Details:
This edit is not 100% chronological. I replaced the opening scene and kept the “bookends” intact.

This edit was really like trying to put together a puzzle and figure out which scenes go where (or rather where I thought they should go). Sound editing led to some interesting results, as the beautiful score done by Gustavo Santaolalla often is spread over two scenes that are on different parts of the “time-line” of the story.

*Editor’s note: For those who haven’t watched their theatrical disk of 21 Grams in a while, it should be remembered that the theatrical edit utilizes lots of quick cuts and the film is very grainy at times (and my edit doesn’t “fix” these things).*
Cuts and Additions:

- replaced “Focus Features” logo with “Gatos Features” logo
- replace opening scene
- new title cards (in same font style as the theatrical version)
- rearranged a LOT of scenes
- removed repeated/alternate angle “look Daddy a pigeon!” scene
- removed first scene of Jack’s birthday party
- removed Paul’s first meeting with the Private Investigator
- removed Paul going to Cristina’s house and ringing the door bell
- removed Paul watching Cristina swim at the Sports Club
- removed Cristina sitting up in bed while Paul is sleeping
- removed Jack returning to the motel from work and Paul saying hello to him
- removed repeated/alternate angle “You shouldn’t have done it!” scene
- removed repeated/alternate angle “Call an ambulance!” scene
- removed repeated scene of Paul walking in the desert
- removed repeated scene of Cristina in the motel bathroom
- removed repeated/alternate angle scene of Paul sitting by the pool
- removed repeated scene of Jack walking by the motel rooms
- shortened the end credits and removed the Spanish-language “dedication”
Cover art by g1orkatsos (DOWNLOAD HERE)
image

Trailer

Trusted Reviewer reviews

5 reviews
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.8(4)
Audio Editing
 
9.8(4)
Visual Editing
 
10.0(4)
Narrative
 
10.0(4)
Enjoyment
 
9.8(5)
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
This is an old edit that probably more people should try to check out. Not everyone will like the film, not even in this version, but it's a testament to what fan-editing can do.

The original version of 21 Grams was really hard for me to get into. It's not just chronologically-mixed, it's edited with jarring, rapid cuts and many scenes that are mere seconds long. It's already a complex, criss-crossing story, so there's plenty to keep track of even when told in a straightforward manner. I think that the original editing technique, regardless of its intention, really does cover up the story's lack of depth by just making you focus on piecing together the narrative.

I wrote longer thoughts on the film itself, and how it works better in this version, here: https://boxd.it/2YlObL
The long and short of it is though, that this is absolutely a better way to watch the film. The editor has restructured it to keep the spirit of you not fully-knowing the events until some characters cross over later, but this time it has more impact (no pun intended) due to you knowing about the lives of those characters beforehand. You know what there is to be lost. This is a more immersive way to watch the film, and allows you to focus on the great performances instead of being so plot-focused.

That said, there are still barriers in the edit. The editor couldn't work with material that wasn't there, and the original cut features abrupt scene transitions and rough visuals. So here, too, the visual quality is not great, the audio transitions have a few abrupt moments, and scenes can be very short and move to something else in rather a jarring way. I think the editor did a great job with the material available (although the file size on this reveals an opportunity to do a higher-fidelity version) but it is a real limitation.

The restructuring and all the cuts and arrangements are great , EXCEPT the editor notes they "removed Jack returning to the motel from work and Paul saying hello to him". As I understood it, this is how Jack figures out later that Paul wasn't just following him, but was actually staying at the hotel. Without this scene, the fanedit has a plot hole in that Jack seems to come out of nowhere at the end, for no reason. (Nevermind that you could argue in the original film it doesn't make much sense for them to say at the hotel anyway!)

I think I feel closest to the sentiments that l8wrtr expressed in their review below about this edit. It allows for more investment in characters, is actually more hopeful, and more meaningful. It revealed to me however that the film may just not be to my tastes, a film that's arguably pretentious and hiding behind artifice instead of offering any real insight to the human condition. The characters' motivations often don't make much sense, as is much clearer in this cut, and we simply have to shrug and say "well, they're flawed people who make horrible choices". I always wonder when I watch these kind of critically lauded films, "How did these people live to be as old as they are only to spectacularly self-destruct as soon as one bad thing happens to them?" The contrivance belies that fact that people overcome traumatic life events all the time.

Personal tastes aside though, for sure there is an audience for this film. And when you're going to watch, this is the way to watch it!

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
This review is shamefully late. I was chatting with Beezo about favorite edits and I realized I had never actually written a review of this beautiful edit. So after much delay...

This is quite simply my favorite fanedit that I have ever seen. It not only represents all the best that fanediting has to offer, the resulting film is incredible.

Audio/Video Quality
Flawless. No loss between original and fanedit.

Visual Editiong
Flawless work here. Truly seamless. Every edit feels natural. No flash frames, no amateurish work here. Indistinguishable from a theatrical release

Audio Editing
Again, flawless work. Not a single stray audio note that I could find and again, indistinguishable from a theatrical release.

So before I get into the narrative, this edit represents everything that every faneditor should be aspiring to create. Each edit is hidden. No change stands out. If you were to show this to a person who'd never seen the original, I guarantee you they'd think it was simply the theatrical version. It is as good as it gets.

But where it really matters is the narrative.
Truth be told, I hated the original. To be clear, 21 Grams IS a very good movie, but it's not a very enjoyable movie. After watching it, my wife and I swore to never watch it again. We only bought it so that I could provide some feedback to Gatos on his workprint. The original beats the viewer down at every turn. The non-linear editing of the original is a constant weight that makes it actually feel oppressive, and when the movie finally fades to black the message is haunting, desolate and barren.

Gatos' edit reveals that the story itself is actually.. beautiful. To borrow a theme from one of my all-time favorite movies.. "Look closer...". Freed from the constant jumping around of the original, Gatos' linear approach allows you to experience the story as a normal person would, you feel the devastation of loss, the rebuilding.. the challenges.. and in the end, even though it ends exactly the same way.. the journey feels like a validation or vindication of life, rather than feeling life is fleeting, pathetic and pointless.

It's important to note however, Gatos didn't just put it chronological order. There was a great deal of leeway he had in how to stitch the pieces together and still be 'chronological'. But the timing of his edits, the sequences that he juxtaposed against each other were truly wonderful. Each cut is perfectly paired with the piece that comes before and after, it helps guide your emotional journey in watching the events unfold.

It's pretty much unfair praise, but I'm doing it anyway.. When I walked out of seeing American Beautify the first time I knew I had seen Best Picture for that year. It was impressive and.. beautiful even though tragic. That is what Gatos has created here. For me it was every bit as rewarding as AB.

Well done Gatos.. 10/10 across the board. Best edit I have ever seen. Bar-none.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
DVD
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 2 0
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
"The structure simply doesn't let any of the characters build an arc of growth or despair; aside from being confusing, the narrative locks us out." - from Roger Ebert's review of 21 grams.

21 grams revisited justifies its existence on that quote alone.

It's been several years since I watched the original movie - it sits on the shelf in the "maybe another night" department. This is heavy material, and as Gatos knows, I have taken my sweet time to get around to finally watching and reviewing this edit for the same reason. You have to get your head into the right space to enter this movie, knowing what awaits you.

Having said that, I'm extremely glad that I finally did watch this edit. Without the 'lock out' that Ebert described, we are arguably more present with the characters, and more lost in their stories. Without the editing artiface that causes us to consistenty be reminded we are watching a story from a distance, we are now able to follow the natural flow of events. We can 'go on the journey' with the characters, and share their discoveries and revelations as they occur.

At this point, I should point out that I think the non-linear style in the original works equally well, but for different reasons. The fragmented model is arguably more poetic, and has to find a rhythm in a less traditional sense. It's a collage of hugely emotional and intense moments that we piece together - like a dream, as discussed in the lunch date scene between Watts and Penn. But from the point of view of relating more directly and personally to these characters and their stories, Gatos' version draws you right in, in a way that the original perhaps doesn't allow.

As for the balance of scenes, they work beautifully. Nothing feels out of place or missing. The pacing is spot on, and the impact very intense. This movie is a sledgehammer, but you feel grateful when it hits you in the face. The acting is so amazing, the music incredible, the cinematography the perfect balance of gritty, light and dark.

Technically, the editing is pretty much invisible save for two notable audio changes between scenes (but to be honest, I imagine there were many more potential moments like this that Gatos was cleverly able to avoid!). There was also a slight lip sync issue in the scene at the hospital when Watts receives the bad news. But this only lasted for a minute or so, and was nothing major.

Well done Gatos, you've offered a powerful alternative experience of an already powerful film that can proudly sit beside the original on the shelf. 10/10
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(Updated: March 08, 2013)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I saw the workprint of this back in October and finally got around to watching the final version. My original review holds still holds true:

“21 Grams Rebalanced” is as close to perfection I could imagine a fanedit of this type being. When I first read Gatos’ intention I thought to myself, “Man, how’s that going to look? That movie was chopped up to hell.”
But, Gatos himself said it best: “It was really like trying to put together a puzzle and figure out which scenes go where.”
Consider the original “21 Grams” a Rubik’s Cube with everything mixed up. To most, it looks a jumble of colors, but there’s a certain poetry to how it’s mixed up. The reds and the greens are placed evenly apart and the yellows never touch the blues.
“21 Grams Rebalanced” is the same cube, fully solved. The colors are all there and technically it’s the same cube, but it’s not the same beast. It’s even, smooth and looks beautiful.
10/10

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
DVD
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 2 0
(Updated: July 16, 2012)
Overall rating
 
9.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
N/A
Audio Editing
 
N/A
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N/A
Narrative
 
N/A
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Sometimes you just have to sit back and be grateful that the world of the fanedit can bring such diverse delights. For every Superman or Star Wars edit, there’s a L.A. Confidential or a Killing of a Chinese Bookie. It should be no surprise therefore that the editor of the last film mentioned, is the person responsible for being brave enough to attempt a linear edit of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s fragmented masterpiece, 21 Grams.

To me, Iñárritu is one of the best directors working in cinema today. His much discussed “death trilogy” (Amores Peros, 21 Grams and Babel) arguably represents the finest example of non-linear storytelling and direction in cinematic history, even if by the time Babel comes to a close you could be forgiven for wondering if he’s capable of directing in any other fashion. One’s curiosity as to how a film such as 21 Grams would play if it were to unfold in a much more conventional linear style was, before the world of fanediting, exactly that – nothing but a curious thought. Now, thanks to Gatos, this has become a reality.

If I’m honest, I was a little worried about how well a rebalanced edit of 21 Grams would play out. After all, on the bonus features on the blu-ray of the film Iñárritu actually points out that life does feel very fragmented and more or less hints that the only way 21 Grams would work in its editing, would be in this very fashion. As I say, Gatos, you’re a braver man than me So, I settled down for another round of emotionally exhausting cinema with 21 Grams Rebalanced, praying that the edit would still hold the same powerful effect as Iñárritu’s cut, which I had watched and still hadn’t really recovered from, just one day earlier.

Had I been watching this with Gatos, my first reaction as the credits rolled would have been to turn to him and shake his hand. Some may say that re-balancing a non-linear film such as this is easy, but it’s more than just completely reordering the scenes of the film. Some small sequences still have to be cut completely (in fact, about 12 minutes is trimmed here in total) and more importantly for a film of this quality, cut with some degree of care and skill. I know that Gatos experienced some tough audio challenges with the edit, particularly in scenes where the gentle score from Gustavo Santaolalla would spread from a scene Gatos wanted to keep to another which he wanted to cut or reorder. Not an easy task at all and its to his credit that the cuts, both audio and visual are nearly perfect throughout the edit.

As for comparing this edit to the theatrical cut, well that’s a tricky one for this viewer. Having loved Iñárritu’s non-linear style, I have to say that this Rebalanced cut does not quite play out with as much emotional force. It’s difficult to say why exactly, but ultimately I believe that Iñárritu’s claim that life and death work in such fragmented ways, in both how they unfold and effect other people, is one which rings true for the style in which 21 Grams was originally edited together. I know that Gatos is a huge fan of the original film, so it’s not as if he’s trying to represent a version which will replace Iñárritu’s. Indeed, I still believe this is one of the most skillful fanedits you could wish to see and makes for a fascinating alternate take, while managing to maintain the spirit and tone of the original film.

I suppose the way in which the terrible accident which changes the course of three people’s lives is explored seems to hold more surprise and fascination in its fragmented form. It’s to Gatos’ credit therefore that he manages to stick with two bookends which actually belie his “Rebalanced” title a little. It’s as if he’s brought the weight back down to a much more conventional narrative, but still displays an acknowledgement for the more unsettling side of life and death with the edit’s opening and closing moments. A nice balance indeed.

Onto the technical side of things… Picture quality is a 10/10 for me. I watched the original version on blu-ray the day before, but Gatos’ DVD version was excellent none-the-less.

Audio wise, it would be a well deserved 10/10 as well. Some tough work involved, and there’s only one tiny scene were Santaolalla’s score comes in and then fades out very abruptly (not harshly though!), but it’s not distracting and as I say, it is a very small hardly noticeable glitch, hence my still perfect score.

Finally the editing itself is, as touched upon above, basically flawless. The scenes are reordered with skill and the pace of the movie still feels spot-on – the scenes which are cut are barely noticeable and therefore not missed. 10/10.

Summing up, I would actually give the edit a 9/10. I wanted to give a perfect 10, as this really is a beautifully crafted fanedit, but ultimately my feeling that the “rebalanced” style of the film did not quite maintain the danger and intriguing nature of Iñárritu’s original vision was too much to ignore. Nevertheless, this is a quite excellent fanedit which should be seen by anybody interested in the medium. It’s a difficult film to endure at times, but I urge you to enter the world of Alejandro González Iñárritu – it’s a fascinating glimpse into the beauty and pain of life and death which will always stay with you. Congratulations Gatos, on a quite excellent piece of fanediting.
L
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User reviews

5 reviews
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(3)
Audio Editing
 
10.0(3)
Visual Editing
 
10.0(3)
Narrative
 
10.0(3)
Enjoyment
 
9.8(5)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Thank you, Gatos.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
DVD
Owner's reply September 27, 2013

Best...Review...Ever?!

You're welcome, Rogue! Glad you enjoyed it.

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(Updated: October 14, 2012)
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10.0
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10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Now, I haven't seen the, uh, Unbalanced version of 21 Grams, but I can't imagine it being better than this edit.

I was experiencing the narrative for the first time with 21 Grams Rebalanced, and the journey I was taken on was mindblowing. I can assume that some credit should go to the filmmakers, but the nuance of meaning feels as though it owes much to the chronological retelling.

Technically, this was a superb edit. The audio and video quality was top-notch, and played in great quality on my TV. More importantly, though, the editing of Rebalanced was some of the best I've ever seen. If I hadn't downloaded it myself, I would have had no idea this was a fan edit and not the original film. The editing was invisible, and I mean that in the best way possible.

This was not just one of the best fan edits I've ever seen, but one of the best films I've ever seen.

User Review

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Yes
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(Updated: July 16, 2012)
Overall rating
 
10.0
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N/A
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N/A
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N/A
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N/A
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Nonlinear storytelling can make for great entertainment—take Pulp Fiction. But the degree of fragmentation also matters. Pulp Fiction’s nonlinearity worked because its fragments came in big enough chunks.

21 Grams, in its theatrical incarnation, was as fragmented as a puzzle on the floor of Mr. Plinkett’s dungeon. For that reason, it took me almost half an hour into the movie to become invested in its characters.

Gatos’s version is a masterful retelling of the same story. Aside from a few well-selected scenes at the beginning of the movie, the story is told from A to Z, and it works very well. Inarritu’s atmosphere of pain and disintegration are still there in this linear version, but, my knowledge of the story notwithstanding, I felt I got my bearings sooner while watching Gatos’s version.

Viewing both the theatrical and rebalanced version of 21 Grams would be instructional for any student of film. No longer does one have to wonder what it would be like to view a chronological version of the director’s vision, because Gatos gives us a highly refined alternative. I offer my highest recommendation for this edit.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
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(Updated: September 06, 2012)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
A Great improvement over the original film! It added so muck more to the story, the characters. Now that everything has a actual flow to it, you get much more invested to the movie. Somehow Gatos managed to take a fragmented non-linear movie, and make a straightforward linear story that works and feels right. It could have easily been presented as the original cut of the movie and it still would have been a really good movie. At no point this edit feels amateurish or has anything that feels like it was fanedited. Top-notch editing with no audio or video problems at all. Audio goes smooth for the entire edit and the video quality is really good. For me now this is the definite version of 21 Grams! Gatos Good Job!!! You deserved fanedit of the month!
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(Updated: July 16, 2012)
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9.0
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9.0
The only thing I would add to LastSurvivor’s beautiful review is the fact that the small bit of lost intensity in this linear cut over the original is not necessarily a bad thing. I like intense dramas but I still really had to work up the nerve to watch Gatos’s edit just because the original left such a lasting impression of being emotionally overwhelming.

I think this linear cut not only offers an alternate perspective for the story but also offers one that feels slightly less like being emotionally tortured, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The ending almost feels uplifting despite the death involved, and that is definitely not something I ever remember feeling with the original cut.

This is really what fanediting is all about. A must-see for all.
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