The Keep film by Michael Mann
Strange Obsessions for an Obscure 1983 Supernatural Horror Film
Written by Kit Rae (and friends) in 2005. Last update January 2017.
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Artist Enki Bilal was brought in to redesign the look of the stage 2 and stage 3 Molasar. A new stage 2 costume was built by Nick Allder and Nick Maley showing exposed muscles and a red glow coming through Molasar's eyes and mouth. A new stage 3 costume was also built. Long after principal photgraphy had ended, all of the Molasar scenes were re-filmed with actor Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi) wearing these new costumes.
Assembling Nick Allder and Nick Maley's revised stage 2 Molasar suit. Molasar was played by actor Michael Carter
The final stage 2 Molasar costume used in the film. These PR photos were color graded with deep blues, although the actual movie was more neutral in color
The final stage 2 and stage 3 Molasar costumes, worn in the fim by Mike Carter
FINAL CUT RUNNING TIME - Rumors have spread throughout the years that Mann's final cut was around three hours in length (I have read reports of at least four different running times), but I highly doubt this. Big budget studio films from this period were typically around two hours long. However, it seems clear that the final film released was a shortened version of Michael Mann’s intended final cut. Assembly cuts are always much longer than the final cuts since directors and editors tend to start by throwing just about everything shot into the first assembly, then trim out what is not needed, or what does not work to tell the story, until they arrive at a rough cut closer to the running time needed, then do more trims for the final cut. Alex Thompson stated in an interview that the film was running 3 1/2 hours long, but he left the production long before the film was at Mann's final cut stage, so he was probably referring to the assembly cut.
The only other mention of a running time for The Keep I have ever read was from article in the French magazine Starfix from 1984 that included in depth interviews with the cast and crew. It stated The Keep was always to have a minimum two hour running time, but the nervous producers decided the final cut Mann delivered needed to be shortened by at least a half hour. Mann's original uplifting ending was one of the major cuts to the film. He refers to that ending in interviews made prior to the film's release, it was described in the film's press kit, and photos from that ending were shown in press release photos and magazines distributed prior to the film's release. According to a French Michael Mann interview in 1996, in one of the few times he has actually spoken of The Keep since 1983, Mann stated that the film released in theaters was butchered:
THE DISTORTED FINAL CUT - The studio ordered re-cut version of the film released in theaters runs around 96 minutes long. The final films seems to be missing large portions of character development and story in the second half. For example, many people were baffled by the fact that within minutes of Glaeken meeting Eva (in film time), he is having sex with her, which is seemingly an indication that some vital character development scenes were cut. However, most people seem to completely miss the fact that he hypnotizes her the first moment she looks into his eyes. That is one of the powers from the vampire myth. He also coldly sends her to sleep with a simple touch when she tries to get answers from him after they have sex. Whether or not this was simply how Glaeken regularly used mortal women (for sex), or if he simply intended to create a sexual bond to enforce his seductive will power over her, it made sense the first time I saw the film. Glaeken's ultimate goal was to stop Molasar's escape, and one of his goals was to make Eva convince her father that Molasar was evil, to prevent him from removing the talisman which kept Molasar imprisoned. She ultimately did exactly that.
It does seem like Glaeken and Eva's story is mostly missing however. Glaeken did fall in love with her at some point, and explained who he was and his mission to destroy Molasar. This development is not present in the film, other than one line Eva says to her father, indicating she already knows all of this somehow. Those scenes were a victim of the 30 minutes of cut scenes. Snippets of extra scenes between those two characters, not seen in the final film, do appear in the film trailers.
The second half of the film can make little sense to the unimaginative casual viewer without reading between the lines of what is presented in the film, or having read the novel it was loosely based on. The latter half of the film suffers (to some) from huge chunks of missing story material, and there are places where dialogue appears to be cut off, and music cues that shift jarringly to other cues mid scene, making it seem these edits were rushed. Production artist Enki Bilal was on set for some of the scenes shot for the third act, and has stated the cuts ruined the film. He was disappointed that certain scenes were removed, including Scott Glenn falling into Molasar's cavern, exploding heads, and a scene of Eva going into Molasar's cavern, all taken from the last thirty minutes.
Author F. Paul Wilson read Mann's original screenplay based on his book and has stated the released film follows Mann's screen story faithfully. While he dislikes the film and considers it a lousy adaptation of his novel (although he really likes Tangerine Dream's music), his criticisms are the same as others - the last half hour of the film seems truncated.
The imagination created in the viewer's mind by the dream logic of what is presented in the film either fills in the story blanks successfully and works for those who love the film, or it does not and the viewer rejects it. Even with its flaws, few in my opinion, the good versus evil, nightmare fable story, and barely-hinted-at mythology are told in a unique dream-like way. A 'consensual dream' as Michael Mann has put it, that appealed to those who prefer their films to remain somewhat mysterious. Some people do not not like every blank to be filled in, leaving more to the imagination, and a film like this need not provide all the answers to work on that level - just the clues.
Something about the film definitely worked for me, and it chillingly stuck in my brain long after the film ended. The music. The settings and visuals. The two opposing sides of the German army. The foreboding way Eva looked back at the keep in the freeze frame ending, but was actually looking into the camera at the audience. Sure, I was wondering about what happened to the otherworldly beings Glaeken and Molasar at the end, but it was also as if the film had presented to me a fairy tale of fascism and the shifting good and evil sides of mankind in its self contained world, with Eva as the moral middle ground, then had her point the finger back at the audience with that stare.
DELETED SCENES and TRAILERS - I have a copy of the official Handbook of Production Information and the 1983 press kit (press kits were packages sent to the media that included film photos and information about the film and film makers) which includes a production notes section. It gives clues to several scenes that were filmed but not included in the final release. There are also many interviews with cast members talking about missing scenes filmed, photos of several missing scenes, as well as storyboards and script pages of scenes that have been in circulation since the film was released that were not in the final cut. There was also a Mayfair Games boardgame based on The Keep released in 1984 with a storyline taken from the movie script that gives clues to several missing scenes.
Production diary from The Keep Handbook of Production Information (click pages to enlarge)
ALTERNATE ENDINGS - As mentioned, the ending of the released film was not the ending Mann intended. Before the film was finished he stated in a Film Comment interview by Harlan Kennedy that the film would be "uplifting in the end", and when referring to the film as a fable and a fairy tale, as opposed to myth, that fairy tales always had an optimistic ending. This makes sense if you watch the original ending (one of them, anyway) shown in some television broadcast versions, which is a lovely and haunting finale. According to special effects workshop supervision Bob Keen, Mann shot the ending at least 10 times, having the crew rebuild the keep set over and over each time.
In the televised ending I saw in the mid 1990's there is no freeze frame on Eva. Instead she walks back into the keep, beckoned by Glaeken's voice calling to her, presumably in her mind. Glaeken and Molasar are shown falling through a black void, with Galeken beginning to smoke and catch on fire. Molasar disappears into blackness. As this is happening, Eva is shown making a long journey down into the cavern below the keep as an enigmatic version of Walking in the Air is performed by Tangerine Dream. There she finds Glaeken's dead and smoking body on the slate stone ground beside a pool of water, with a blue light barrier separating him from the air above. With a touch, Eva revives Glaeken. In a scene earlier in the film, Glaeken had no reflection in a mirror, but he now sees his own reflection in the pool of water. He has seemingly transformed from a supernatural being into a mortal man, who can now 'touch as only mortal men can do', freeing him to live a mortal life with Eva. The press kit for the film also mentions another scene shot in Spain, confirmed by actress Alberta Watson in an interview, that would have been "the final sequence of the picture, featuring Glaeken, Eva, and Kuzar" leaving Romania on a boat together (Cuza is spelled Kuzar in the press press Kit).
The press photos and press kit for The Keep mention and include photos (shown below) of Eva kneeling over Glaeken's body in the cavern. One of the cavern photos was even given to Starfix magazine for their cover story on The Keep in 1983, so clearly the original ending was still in the film at the time the marketing materials were distributed. There are aslo photos of a shirtless Glaeken laying on the ground in Molasar's cavern with the blue laser over him, possibly from another version of the alternate ending that was filmed.
Shots of the original optimistic ending of The Keep filmed at Shepperton Studios, removed at Paramount Pictures insistence, but shown in press release photos, magazines, and some television broadcasts. According to Actor Jürgen Prochnow, Michael Mann had an interest in restoring this scene to the film back in 2008.
It may seem strange that Paramount cut the original ending out of the failed theatrical release but edited it back into the film for the television markets, but to me, that is a clear indication that they realized altering Mann's ending was a mistake. There are also reports of three other alternate endings that have been edited back into the various television broadcasts, although I have no memory of seeing any of these. In one ending Glaeken kills Molasar, then carries his body back into the cavern under the keep. In another Glaeken and Molasar fall through a black void shooting energy beams at each other, until Glaeken barely destroys Molasar (this sounds like the unfinished ending). Eva then goes down inside the keep cavern and revives Glaeken by the pool of water, as in the common televised ending I saw. Steven Feldman relates on his Molasar's Homepage that The Keep author F. Paul Wilson told him he saw a version on ABC television in 1998 where Eva goes back into the depths of the keep and brings Glaeken out, which also sounds like the common televised ending.
There are several scenes in the film trailers shown in 1983 that are not in the finished film, something actually quite common for film trailers. These hint at longer scenes, including dialogue scenes between Glaeken and Eva, and some scenes and camera angles that were never used. There were two different trailers shown in theaters. One announced the film's original release date as June 3rd 1983, and promoted a 70mm release with 6 track Dolby stereo. A second, slightly different trailer that came later, dropped the 70mm and Dolby 6 track promotion. Both used the same Tangerine Dream music. I have also seen a version of the second trailer with no music at all.
Presumably the unused shot above is from the ending of the film, prior to Glaeken's confrontation with Molasar, or after Glaeken defeats him.
Alternate, unused angles of Molasar and Glaeken in the keep.
Unused dialogue scenes between Glaeken and Eva
THE KEEP OUT OF PRINT - To date, the film has only been released on two home video formats - the original video cassette tape releases (VHS and Betamax formats) and Laser Disk releases of the theatrical cut of the film by Paramount Pictures, both beginning in December 1984. While there have been plenty of bootleg DVD's for sale, there has been no official DVD, Blue Ray, or high definition release in any form. Many people have incorrectly stated that Michael Mann disowns the film and has blocked future releases of this butchered version, or that Tangerine Dream blocked the release. These rumors are mostly made-up internet speculation and forum chatter with no basis in fact however. In fact, Paramount owns rights to the film, not Mann or Tangerine Dream. Neither could not stop Paramount if they wanted to release the movie in a modern HD format.
With regards to Mann 'disowning' the film, I think those rumors came from a statement author F. Paul Wilson made on his Repairman Jack website in 2004, but he only came to the 'disowning' conclusion because Mann leaves The Keep out of his filmography in interviews. Mann has actually stated, as quoted in this article, that even with its content flaws, he still likes the film and enjoyed working on it, although he has issues with the released version. Mann siad this in a 2009 interview:
In 2004 Paramount announced a DVD release coming November 30th. Author F. Paul Wilson suggested to Paramount that they include Tangerine Dream's isolated soundtrack on the DVD. That release was cancelled, then in 2005 there were more rumors that Paramount wanted to do a release with Michael Mann's participation. A rep for Paramount stated that they were waiting on Michael Mann's schedule to free up because they wanted him involved with the film transfer and the DVD extras with deleted scenes. In 2008 Actor Jürgen Prochnow, who likes the film, confirmed in that Michael Mann had indeed planned on re-editing the film, restoring his original cut, including the fifth act. Then there were rumors that the negatives of the cut footage were lost and that Mann was no longer interested.
Rumors of a DVD or Blue Ray release began again in 2010, then there were rumors in 2012 that Paramount had already made an HD transfer of the theatrical film for a Blue Ray, but still no official news. Based on some official comments, there is some type legal issue with the music rights and the film rights holders that is holding a future high def release of the theatrical version of The Keep in legal limbo, so it may be that Paramount is simply not interested in spending time and money to settle this. Virgin records owns the copyright to the recording of Tangerine Dream's Logos Live album, which was the source that much of the music used in the film was taken from.
When critic Bilge Ebiri interviewed Mann for a career retrospective in 2016, he specifically asked if there were plans to release a new cut of The Keep with the lost footage restored, or even release the theatrical version. Mann said "No, not really. I don't…the materials aren't there." That seems to be a clear confirmation of the rumor that the original negatives are now lost. Mann went on to say "It was joy to make make that film. I got to work with John Box, who was the production designer, who won three academy awards - for Oliver, A Man for All Seasons…Lawrence of Arabia - and he was just a great guy and the sets were spectacular, built at Shepperton." Mann then discussed Wally Veevers tragic death. "We were never really quite able to figure out how he planned to combine all of these components that he shot, because it wasn't anything usual like green screen or blue screen. It was black velvet and all kinds of strange stuff to make smoke go backwards. That one's (the film) going to stay in its historical niche." That seems to be a clear cut statement by Mann, that as far as he is concerned The Keep can stay out of print.
There have been many television broadcasts of The Keep with some of the deleted footage restored, including the original, much longer, and more uplifting ending, which also includes a fantastic extended version of Tangerine Dream’s arrangement of Walking In The Air. The film has also been shown on some video-on-demand services, like Netlfix, reportedly with some scenes cut and others altered, although when I streamed it nothing had been changed. The video quality seemed better than the Laser Disk version, which would seem to indicate a new transfer of the film was in fact made. The cropped pan-and-scan low resolution transfer has also been made available on some video on demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. An official release of the film in any high definition form seems doubtful at this point. There is always hope for a release in the future however, and with the cult fan base and mystique about this movie, the huge interest in Tangerine Dream's soundtrack, as well as the following Michael Mann, Ian McKellen, and some of the other actors have, it is sure to be successful. A deluxe Blue Ray with a restored directors cut, or even just the theatrical version including a deleted scenes section and alternate endings would be gobbled up by the fans. Until that day, watch for it appearing on streaming services, or find and old copy on VHS or Laser Disk.
Director Michael Mann in 1982
The Keep was the only time Michael Mann made a film in this genre. He would go on to create the television shows Miami Vice and Crime Story, and direct such films as Manhunter, The Last of The Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral, Public Enemies, and Ali. Often pegged as a "crime drama" director, Mann's work has actually been quite diverse.
The common alternate ending to The Keep shown in some television broadcasts in the 1990s
The Keep film photos by Graham Attwood, copyright Paramount Pictures. Other photos copyright the respective copyright holders.
CONTRIBUTORS - I wrote this article with LOTS of help and contributions from friends and fellow TD fans, and fans of The Keep. Thanks go to Jim, Ed, Jerome, Arxemand, Geoff. If you would like to contribute any additional info, photos, or know of any other bootlegs or other sources of this music, feel free to email.
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