News on the director-approved fan edit of Raising Cain.
With the recent release of the Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach co-directed documentary on the master filmmaker Brian De Palma as well as theatrical retrospectives of the director’s best works, one of the distinguished auteur’s most overlooked and underrated works, 1992’s Raising Cain, got a unique jump start unheard of in the annals of cinema history. A loose reworking of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom which De Palma’s trademark mixture of Alfred Hitchcock stylization and his own unique blend of sleazy transgression, the film stars John Lithgow arguably reprising his psycho from De Palma’s own Blow Out with Lithgow as a child psychologist with a murderous split personality disorder. Produced by longtime James Cameron collaborator Gale Anne Hurd and reuniting De Palma with Dressed to Kill composer Pino Donaggio and frequent cinematographer Stephen H. Burum, the film upon initial release was more or less written off as yet another Hitchcockian De Palma shocker who himself expressed hesitation about going back to the suspense thriller genre he’s done all too many times before. That said, De Palma’s good at it and in the years since it’s release, Raising Cain is long overdue for reappraisal.
Which brings us to a curious chapter written into the film’s history only recently and by, of all people, a fan. A freelance editor and filmmaker named Peet Gelderblom, who never met or worked with Brian De Palma, decided to try a little experiment with Raising Cain. Working from an early draft of De Palma’s script and the director’s own admission he was unsatisfied with how the picture opened, Gelderblom more or less generated what’s known on the internet as a ‘fan edit’ of Raising Cain, rearranging the chronological order of certain scenes in the finished film to bring the picture close to De Palma’s original vision. After posting his fan edit of the film on Vimeo, where it played to enormous critical praise, something truly out of the ordinary happened. Brian De Palma saw and not only publicly endorsed what became known as Raising Cain Recut, saying it was superior to his own release version and that it was closer to his original vision, but he even persuaded the blu-ray home video company Shout Factory to include it on their forthcoming commercial re-release of the film slated for release on September 13th, 2016.
Whatever your thoughts are on Brian De Palma (I think he’s a master) or his underrated Raising Cain, this is among the first times a director has gone on the record to say a homemade fan edit of one of his films was better than what he himself did. Typically fan edits like the much sought after Star Wars Grindhouse are usually torrent curiosities that are traded under the radar to avoid copyright infringement and are usually frowned upon by the film industry. For one of these things to not only be sanctioned by the director and be included on a commercially available home video release sold in stores, it’s an unprecedented quantum leap in editing as film criticism. Mr. Gelderblom, who did this on his spare time as an experiment, is surely as surprised as anyone that the reception of his fan edit won the acclaim of the artist himself. With fans re-editing work prints of films together with finished films to attempt to peer into what might have been had the auteur had his way, this is the first one I know of to be released officially with full support of the director. Being the longtime De Palma fan that I can, I simply cannot wait to see this version of the film as it was meant to be seen by it’s director had he had the option to do so the first time around. Here’s hoping this sets off a chain reaction where other like-minded fans eager to see films the way their makers intended step up to the plate and offer their own insight into the creative process of a great director.
- Andrew Kotwicki