The Keep

The Keep ★★½

Part of The Spooky Scary Marathon 2018

The Keep is a now-infamous product of studio interference, and a textbook instance of everything that could possibly go wrong during a film's production going wrong. The film suffered from extremely difficult conditions while filming, and ended up going massively over budget. The financial restrictions resulted in Paramount forcing an end to production before filming was complete, which in turn forced Michael Mann to redo the film's ending entirely. Furthermore, visual effects supervisor Wally Veevers died unexpectedly two weeks into post-production, leaving numerous effects shots unfinished, some of which were rendered unusable as the remainder of the crew wasn't aware of how he intended to finish them.

Despite all of that, Mann produced a 210-minute-long cut of the film and presented to Paramount, who, in turn, and against Mann's wishes, brutally edited it down to 96 minutes. The results are predictable given the context. Wikipedia summarizes it best: in its butchered state, The Keep features "many plot holes, continuity mistakes, inconsistent pacing, bad editing issues, and bad sound design." In its current state, such issues were entirely expected and unavoidable via a short history lesson. Context is, after all, essential, and context has effectively destroyed The Keep.

There are fleeting glimpses of a continuous storyline, with a formal narrative progression and everything. Characters can be seen at the beginning and ends of their respective arcs, whereas the middle portion has been all but gutted. It's as intact as possible I suppose, which is an impressive feat given how much of it was removed. As with nearly all Michael Mann films, it's ruthlessly stylized and looks incredible, and his direction is, as always, excellent at elevating two warring ideals into a mythic struggle between obsessively convicted men, while the supernatural elements were very clearly meant to represent both their fears and desires, and it's entirely within the realm of plausibility that Mann could have made these work to an exceptional degree had he been allowed to use these resources as he had seen fit. As it stands however, history has dictated that The Keep is, through no fault of its own, a broken, functionally incomprehensible movie, one which, most depressingly of all, will probably never be fixed.

(???) 5 / 10 - Average

Downplay_Rev liked these reviews