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Dust Devil
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Dust Devil: Workprint vs. Final Cut

by James Flower

James Flower has previously studied Dust Devil in his meticulous comparison on how Miramax's original US release differs from Richard Stanley's Final Cut (with a revised and further developed version now available). In this essay, he compares two separate cuts of the film by Stanley himself; both available in the Subversive Cinema box-set.

The New Print

One would have assumed that when Subversive Cinema released their special-edition release of Dust Devil with a much-vaunted HD remaster, that the impressive picture quality would have been the only new thing with regards to the main feature. Not so!

The Credits:
In the opening credits, the new transfer featured a few additions, namely a copyright claim by Stanley's company Shadow Theatre Ltd, and a new "Executive Producer" credit for Stanley himself. (These credits are simply put over scenes where there had been none before; it is no other new footage here.) This is quite understandable; given the traumas he had experienced previously at the hands of Miramax, and all the money he put personally into the post-production of the film, Stanley has more than earned the right to assert his newfound copyright on what is the definitive release to date of his film.

  • 0:03-0:05: "In Association With SHADOW THEATRE FILMS"
  • 1:04-1:09: "The Final Cut" underneath "DUST DEVIL" as well as "copyright (C) 1992 - 2006. Shadow Theatre Ltd. All Rights Reserved"
  • 2:44-2:47: "Executive Producer RICHARD STANLEY"

33:09-33:11: The video Mark is watching of Wendy in the pool has her stay afloat, as in Miramax cut. The Subversive Cinema DVD (including the workprint) uses this version of the shot, as opposed to the Laser Paradise DVD where Wendy sinks to the bottom of the water.

1:31:56-1:32:03: A strange cock-up this: look at the scene where Wendy is walking through the ghost town near the end of the film, and shouts "There must be somebody here!" In all previous releases of the Final Cut (including the German DVD from Laser Paradise), the line is shown on top of a long shot of Wendy approaching the house that much of the final action takes place in. (The Workprint features an extended version of this take, before we see Wendy walking up the steps to the house.) In the Subversive Cinema DVD, however, instead we see a different shot from the same angle. The reason why this is the "wrong shot" is simple; in it, we can faintly see Wendy and Ben in front of the house, when they're not supposed to have even met yet!
 

Cut it!

The Workprint

When announced, the inclusion of Stanley's original workprint, complete with unseen footage, was one of the most tantalising inclusions on the Subversive Cinema set. Four deleted scenes were shown as extra features a few months earlier on the UK Optimum Releasing DVD, but this workprint promised a lot more, and delivered in spades. However, to call it the "original workprint" is something of a misnomer. Instead of presenting a transfer of the original time-coded VHS (which admittedly would have been something of a headache to watch, if still tremendously interesting), the "workprint" was in fact a "re-creation", a compendium of all the available Dust Devil footage from various sources to form an impression of the workprint in the best quality possible.

Whilst the majority of the "workprint" was, in fact, the remastered Final Cut, the unseen footage was inserted back into the film, with some alternate takes replacing what eventually wound up in the Final Cut. Most were taken from a somewhat battered VHS of Stanley's rough cut (in the video introduction, Stanley likens this to showing his "dirty linen" to the world), but some were even taken from a copy of the 87-minute Miramax re-edit. (Though not all of the footage unique to the Miramax cut was included, such as the reshoot footage of a masked Hitch approaching Wendy during the "driving at night" scene.) The "workprint" was painstakingly pieced together by Shadow Theatre Ltd, under Stanley's supervision. The DVD handily features chapter stops at all 48 points, so we can skip directly to the deleted scenes.

This is a detailed list of all the unseen footage, in chronological order, complete with timings and in some instances where the footage was sourced from.

The additional credits from the Subversive Cinema version of the Final Cut are also included here.

4:37: The shot from Hitch's POV as he approaches Saartjie in the car is a mere second longer.

6:49-6:51: As in the Miramax cut - though it is taken from the workprint VHS - Hitch gliding his knife along Saartjie's back after he kills her is a couple of seconds longer.

6:52-7:42: Taken from the workprint VHS. This is an alternate scene to Ben answering the telephone and hearing Katie's voice. Here, Ben answers the phone and talks to someone, but the phone suddenly goes dead. This version contains an interesting, creepy coda to the scene not included in the Final Cut: after Ben tries another phone, which also doesn't work, all the phones in the room start to go off in unison. He picks up another, which crackles in his ear.

7:42-7:53: Sourced from a very red-tinted video of the Miramax cut (not the same one made publicly available in the US by Paramount, where the colours were more natural). This is the same shot of Hitch unveiling his jagged tools that he's about to use on Saartjie's body as in the 87-minute version.

7:53-7:58: Two additional shots not featured in any other cut: Ben with the phone to his ear (still hearing a crackling sound); and the telegraph pole outside, again with the crackling noise.

9:27-9:29: The scene of Hitch wiping the blood off himself in the shower is prefaced by two shots of the shower starting up, and the water hitting the camera lens - perhaps a homage to a similar shot in Hitchcock's Psycho? These shots are actually lifted from two separate scenes in Richard Stanley's previous film, Hardware.

Burn the house down
Hitch causes some additional mayhem in the Haarhoff residence.
9:39-9:56: We then cut to a shot panning over a blood-splattered wall of the house, that takes in a photograph of a young girl. This same shot is also featured in the Miramax edit, but halfway through the morgue sequence featuring Marianne Sagebrecht later in the film.

11:02-11:25: This is an extended version of the shot where Hitch puts the severed fingers in the icebox. The Final Cut cuts away before Hitch puts in the last finger; here, it shows him doing so.

12:20-12:40: There are two extra shots of Hitch opening up the petrol can and pouring gasoline all over the walls of the house, before it cuts back to the shot of him doing it as featured in all other cuts of the film.

13:20-13:49: This is an alternate/extended angle of Hitch getting into his car and driving away from the house in one long shot, rather than in the Final Cut, which cuts in to a medium shot of Hitch in the car halfway through. The workprint is also missing two shots of the porch of the house burning and the mirror on fire before cutting back to the burning radio, as in Final Cut.

15:09-15:20: This is yet another different, hitherto completely unseen version of Wendy and Mark's argument before she walks out, all played out in one two-shot, before it cuts to Wendy walking out of the house as in Final Cut. (Note the first two lines are played over aerial shot of town):
 
 WENDY: It's sucking the life out of me.
   MARK: And you think sleeping with another man is going to fill you up again?
 WENDY: Chad is a friend, can't you get that into your head?
   MARK: God Wendy, what have I ever done to make you think I'm such a fool?!
 (Mark punches wall, pushes her aside)
   MARK (Cont'd): Get out of my house, now!

15:59-16:40: This is an aerial shot of Bethany not featured in any other cut, as a train goes through the town. Features radio voice-over moved to the scene where Wendy drives through the desert in the Final Cut. After this shot, there is another of a woman walking past a Jeep and a house that in the next scene is revealed to be Ben's.

Boelgakof
Premier Boelgakof, the Shadow Theatre -sponsored South African politician, makes his cameo while Wendy attempts to phone Chad.
18:54-19:15: Two extra shots of Ben and Cornelius as latter talks to "UN" car. Dialogue from two police officers (about soldiers happening upon fig tree in the desert) laid underneath is also featured in following scene inside the house.

19:55-20:26: A short scene (just one shot) where Wendy uses a phone box in town to call Chad, but only gets an answering machine message. Notice the poster on the wall.

20:48-21:40: Where the Final Cut shows two more shots of Wendy driving through the desert during Joe's voiceover, the workprint cuts to a shot of a map (showing the road leading to "Bethanie") before cutting straight to the policemen going down the hill towards Saartjie's car, cutting out the opening shot of Ben. Because the voice-over winds up over some of this scene, it is missing dialogue between Ben and the policemen about turning the car radio off and how long it's been on.

26:08-27:20: The first morgue scene features some extra dialogue as the scene opens, as well as a couple of new shots of Ben and Dr Leidzinger:
 
 BEN: So... tell me doctor...
   LEIDZINGER: You were always the optimist, Ben. Why don't you try your hand at some of these guys? They've all come in since the ceasefire, overflow from our country. All they are now is paperwork. What's so special about your woman, apart from being her (sic) white?

In these scenes, you can tell that they haven't yet performed ADR on Marianne Sagebrecht's scenes (or laid over dialogue from other takes) as her English is much wobblier than in either the Final Cut or the Miramax edit.

28:19-29:26: The second morgue scene opens with some extended dialogue:
 
 LEIDZINGER: If he did, he didn't cum.
   BEN: He could have been wearing a contraceptive?
 LEIDZINGER: Safe sex? It's a possibility but there's no way of checking it. The only really interesting thing we've got so far in the scrapings from the mural...

Rather than cut away to the jarred fetuses and the mural (as in Final Cut), the workprint simply cuts back and forth between Ben and Leidzinger. The scene cuts away after the line "A sangoma could tell from the missing pieces just what our man was after..." to the pinball machine. Unlike the Final Cut, the rest of the morgue sequence is made into a separate third scene.

Morgue attendant
The actor portraying the morgue attendant suffered an epileptic seizure on set, rendering most of his footage unusable.
30:18-31:34: After the shot of cat on pinball machine, we cut back to the rest of the morgue scene. A slightly extended line at the beginning:
 
 LEIDZINGER: It's _____ alright, only God knows what type. Magic is a pretty individualistic craft at the best of times. You must have a local sangoma Sergeant, why don't you ask him about it?

At the end of the scene, another doctor sticks his head in to tell Ben he is wanted on the phone. After Ben leaves, Leidzinger turns to the corpses and says "How about you guys? Do any of you believe in magic?" This footage is exclusive to the workprint.

33:11-33:26: There is a longer shot of Wendy at the end of bar scene, including camera tilt up from her writing letter to Mark, that cuts (rather than dissolves) into the "driving at night" scene.

34:33-34:38: There is a new shot of the owl watching silently at the end of the "driving at night" scene.

34:38-36:36: Ben's nightmare about his wife and son is quite different in a few ways. The whole sequence as presented in the work-print is taken from the rough cut VHS, before ADR has been performed (including Joe's voiceover, which is missing). There is also no music during the scene, and some of the editing is slightly different. The main differences here are:

  • A previously unseen shot of dead bodies in the room sitting up to watch Ben and Leidzinger, though they can be seen in the background of the Final Cut.
  • Here, we very briefly cut out of the nightmare to Ben in bed.
  • Katie's line "It's because of you it's come to this, you and your stupid pride" is missing (though Hitch still repeats it at the end of the film). Instead, Ben speaks about his regret over sending his son to fight: "He only joined the army because of me. It's my fault he's here."
  • After Ben wakes up, we hear the sound of a train whistle from outside.

42:27-45:00: The beginning of the scene in the drive-in is closer to how it is presented in the Miramax cut. We get a (slightly longer than previously seen) shot of Ben getting out of his Jeep, walking through the archway and up to Joe. There is no voice-over and no shots of Joe watching the dust storm gather in the distance.

47:33-47:48: There are two extra shots at the beginning of the scene where the two policemen beat up the prisoner, before Ben interrupts them.

54:38-54:45: As Wendy opens the door of her motel room (after Hitch secretly watches her almost slit her wrists), the workprint deletes a shot of Wendy from outside the motel (present in the Final Cut), instead cutting to a shot of an owl (from the Miramax cut), before cutting back to another exterior of the motel (from the time-coded workprint VHS), and then to a shot of the following morning (from the Final Cut). The shot of the owl is clearly taken from the Miramax cut, as it features the music used over it to open the "driving at night" scene there!

55:48-55:50: The workprint uses Hitch's silent response to Wendy's "And what makes you so sure I want to give you a ride?" Sourced from the deep-red-hued VHS of the Miramax cut.

56:05-56:59: Also from the Miramax cut, we dissolve straight from Wendy & Hitch driving away from the motel to Ben driving up to Cornelius' house, missing the shot of the monkey on the hill from the Final Cut.

57:49-57:51: Again from the deep-red Miramax cut: Cornelius' line "I'd better not keep her waiting" is delivered in a different angle to that in the Final Cut.

Motel clerk
The motel clerk, his main function to raise the body count, was mostly left on the cutting room floor.
1:00:57-1:05:20: The scene of Hitch and Wendy talking and dancing outside the motel is much longer. It begins with a sunglasses-wearing, crazy-haired motel clerk serving them drinks. Hitch accidentally offers him some ancient, foreign currency, and tells him about their origins. The clerk briefly tells them about his problems, then when he leaves, Wendy asks to look at the coins. As she does so, Hitch starts to play the harmonica, signalling the point where all other cuts begin the scene. After the explosion goes off in the distance, Hitch has a slightly longer line: "Incendiary device... probably just some bored soldier messing around." This starts off a long shot which takes in the whole of Hitch and Wendy dancing, and ultimately kissing. (This also includes the second explosion and bottle moving by itself, which is in the Final Cut but not the Miramax version.) The following shot of the beetle moving over the coins then leads to Ben's nightmare about Saartjie.

1:05:20-1:05:29: The close-up of Ben's haunted eyes before the dream about Saartjie is missing Joe's voice-over.

1:07:40-1:08:00: There is some extra dialogue as Mark comes up to the bar and asks about Wendy: "I'm looking for a white lady. She's about this tall - 5'8" - she's got auburn hair and brown eyes. Her name's Wendy, Wendy Robinson..."

1:09:25-1:10:28: The cross-cutting between Hitch & Wendy having sex, Mark getting beaten up and Joe & Ben in the cave is slightly different. The only new additions are two brief extra shots of Mark getting punched in the face, and a shot of Ben shining his torchlight onto a cave painting of a rather phallic-looking snake (or possibly a worm?); the shot of the spiral painting on the wall is moved to the end of the montage.

1:12:50-1:12:54: From the Miramax cut: The shot of Hitch's demonic reflection in the mirror offering the bowl goes "negative".

1:21:09-1:21:14: There are a couple of extra shots of the family's car as it slams into the cattle truck.

1:21:24-1:21:26: There is an extra shot here of Hitch walking towards the wreckage.

1:21:56-1:22:56: As the two drivers argue following the crash, there is a new shot of Hitch walking towards them (the cattle wandering behind him). When one driver runs away, Hitch reaches the other and asks him for a lighter - which the man gives him! This brief dialogue exchange isn't in the Final Cut; no-one really wonders where Hitch gets a light from in the end. Also, this scene was originally connected to Wendy's stop at a service station earlier in the film. As she goes for the phone, one of this scene's drivers can be seen at the counter, toying with the very same lighter. The cherub on the side is even granted its own close-up. One recurring feature Stanley has mentioned the narrative to have is that throughout the movie, the characters keep almost meeting each other, all drawing nearer to the center of the spiral.

1:24:06-1:25:06: Following a previously unseen shot of smoke billowing from the explosion, there are two new scenes not in any other cut in the film. The motel clerk from earlier tries to call the police, but is subsequently strangled to death by Hitch. On the other end of the line, one of the policemen asks who's calling. Hitch picks up the phone; and though we don't hear his response, the policemen starts to cry uncontrollably, as if Hitch is inducing some sort of reaction through the phone lines. This scene is also featured on the extra features of the Optimum Releasing DVD, and there Hitch's line is audible.
 
 HITCH: This is your commanding officer. You take your orders from me now.

1:25:17-1:25:19: There is a brief close-up of the drawing of Wendy that Ben shows Mark in the prison.

1:27:33-1:27:41: After Mark walks away from the motel room, having read the letter, there is a close-up of a hawk's eyes as it squawks, followed by a long shot of Wendy bandaging her ankle. Both these shots are unique to the workprint.

1:28:20-1:29:11: After the shots of Hitch on the hill drinking, there are three shots sourced from the workprint VHS: Wendy walks up the sandy hill, then another of buzzards circling in the above sky. Then we have the opening shot from the next scene panning to Ben and Mark, with no music, and all of Mark's dialogue about meeting Wendy laid over this shot (rather than cutting to a close-up of him as in Final Cut).

1:30:10-1:30:25: After Ben puts in the whalesong tape, there are two new shots of him putting his foot on the pedal, then a close-up of the tyres as the Jeep drives off into the distance.

1:35:06-1:35:09: There is an extra shot of the snake slithering towards Wendy that might be sourced from the Miramax cut.

1:36:49-1:37:38: As Wendy sees the town in the distance is empty, the workprint uses a hitherto unseen shot of Wendy putting her hands through hair, falling to her knees, then standing back up. This is followed by another shot of her walking through the town, up to the house. The line "There must be somebody here!" is missing.

1:38:22-1:38:37: As Ben runs into the house, Wendy says "Who's Katie?" This scene, unique to the workprint, is odd because she has never heard of Katie before.

1:39:20-1:39:25: Before Ben picks up the phone in the house, there is a new shot of Wendy as she says, "Don't..."

1:39:54-1:39:56: There is a new insert shot of the phone falling to the floor as Ben drops it, the crackling sound from the beginning over it. This is presumably the sound they used instead of Katie's voice while assembling the original rough cut.

1:40:46-1:40:54: Sourced from the deep-red Miramax cut. Before Ben reaches the cinema room, there are three shots: a door outside flapping open and shut, the camera hovering above a sand hill inside the house, and Wendy ready with the gun.

1:42:05-1:42:10: Again from the Miramax cut: the projector shuts off and Ben realises he is alone in the cinema, with the ghostly voices laughing and cheering around him.

1:45:36-1:45:56: After Hitch's headless body stops moving, Ben sees an apparition of Katie, a young boy in her arms (presumably their dead son), before he dies. We hear whalesong in the background during this.

1:47:35-1:48:11: As Wendy walks away from the handcuffed Mark, his trying to get out and calling after her is edited slightly differently. He also cries out "I love you!" at some point, which isn't in any other cut.

1:50:00-1:50:27: There is a new voice-over from Joe in the final scene, different from all other cuts of the film:

  • "A magician must face the dying light with direct eyes. For death and suffering are his true companions. Suffering lends him wings so he may fly with the desert wind. Death, his eyes and ears, so he may read the stony secrets of the hills, and hear the distant singing of the stars."
 
 
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