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The Covenant



The Pope’s Exorcist

Evil Dead Rise

So I Married An Axe Murderer

Abyss, The


  • Theatrical Version
  • Extended Version
Release: Jul 20, 2009 - Author: Alan Smithee - Translator: enemy - external link: IMDB
Following Aliens (1986) James Cameron shot "The Abyss" in 1989 (budget: about US $ 70 MM, Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects). The movie is about a group of underwater oil workers who have to team up with a group of SEALs to secure a sunken ballistic missile submarine. Mysterious events occur which point to the existence of an alien lifeform (NTI = Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) in the depths of the ocean.

At the time a film shown in theaters wasn't supposed to cross the 135 minute barrier and so Cameron had to trim his movie down. Many scenes shedding more light on the characters have been removed. However, the most important scene is also missing. I'm talking about the weather changes and the participation of the NTI's in them (when Bud is aboard the NTIs' vessel). This sequence alone lasts more then five minutes and includes a spectacular scene with a tsunami 1000 feet high.

After Cameron was able to release "Aliens" in an extended version in 1992 he followed with the release of the "Special Edition" version of "The Abyss" in 1993. He recovered his favorite version. Missing visual effects shots, like the wave, were finished. Thanks to the new scenes, who point towards the danger of WWIII, the movie becomes a different, more serious tone und also explains the NTIs' actions. An usual thing is that the font in the end credits has been enlarged.

This "Special Edition", also known as "Director`s Cut" or "Extended Version", has been released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. The DVD contains both versions thanks to "Seamless Branching".

Some trivia information has been adapted from the DVD booklet or the novelization by Orson Scott Card.

Difference (Theatrical version w/ credits) : 41 cuts = 29 Min. 37 Sec.
Difference ("Special Edition") : 10 cuts = 34 Sec.

Time specifications refer to the theatrical version.
The text of the Friedrich Nietzsche quote is missing:"...when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." It has been removed because the movie Criminal Law who was released shortly prior to The Abyss used the same quote. Trivia: the entire quote goes: "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
( 8 Sec. )

Bendix: "Deepcore, this is Benthic."
He turns to McBride and says: "Man, if Bud goes along with this they're gonna have to shoot her with a tranquillizer gun."
( 9 Sec. )

More footage of Bud on the radio, trying to figure out, what's going on. The answer (not audible) pisses him off. Following this comes a shot of operations. We see the crew working. One of Bud's people welds on a pipe. One Night helps him with it from inside her mini-sub. Bud enters operations and calls his people back to the Deepcore. After they reboarded and ask what this is about Bud tells them they have to move the rig.
( 131 Sec. )

One Night pulls her mini-sub ("Flatbed") into the Deepcore. A song plays on the radio ("Willing" by Linda Ronstadt). One Night starts to sing along.
( 45 Sec. )

Bud and Hippy sing along as well.
( 28 Sec. )

A conversation of Bud and Lindsey is missing. Bud isn't stoked about her coming down during the storm. Lindsey says she didn't come down to fight.
( 22 Sec. )

Bud offers Lindsey his bunk. She notices Bud is still wearing his wedding ring and asks him about it. He gives no clear answer, only saying the divorce is not final. He focuses the conversation on Lindsey's new lover, disdainfully calling him "The suit". We understand that Lindsey is not seeing him anymore. Bud seems happy about that. The start fighting and she throws him out of the bunk.
( 97 Sec. )

Lt. Coffey talks about the salvage. Hippy is concerned because of the radiation. Coffey tells him that there's nothign to worry about but Hippy disagrees. But wants to reconsider Hippy's position in the operation. But since he doesn't want anyone else to control the robot cam (Little Geek) he gives in.
( 21 Sec. )

Here we have a difference between both versions:

Theatrical version: We see more of Bud standing around. A man walks by him.
( 2.5 Sec. )

"Special Edition": Bud wants to apologize to Coffey because of his crew. Coffey reacts gruffly. The crew prepares the equipment, others put on diving suits. Finler, who dresses up next to Bud notices Bud's blue hand.
( 57 Sec. )

The divers enter the missile sub. They check a hatch. A man knocks against it and says that it's flooded. They open the hatch. Little Geek swims into the USS Montana.
( 40 Sec. )

Lindsey says that it's WWIII in a can. Shots of Little Geek metering radiation.
( 27 Sec. )

Extended shots of Cab One and Flatbed (the two mini-subs) checking and photographing the USS Montana.
( 11 Sec. )

The scene of the submarine setting down is shot from two different angles. In the Special Edition the camera is not as distant as in the theatrical version (left: Theatrical Version, right : "Special Edition")
( 5 Sec. )

The men go deeper into the USS Monatana. We hear radio transmission of Hippy informing Jammer to breathe easy.
( 33 Sec. )

The following shot of Coffey saying: "Come on, let's keep up." differs in either version. In the SE (left image) he turns around saying it, in the theatrical version (right image) he does not.
( 5 Sec. )

Coffey turns the body of the captain around and takes its missile key.
( 17 Sec. )

Here we have a difference between both versions.

Theatrical version: A diver opens a hatch.
( 6 Sec. )

"Special Edition": The men dive deeper into the USS Montana.
( 37 Sec. )

The Deepcore crew watches the current news on TV. A reporter says that they are participating in a rescue mission.
( 9 Sec. )

The SEALs remove a missile hatch to recover a MIRV warhead. Following this we see another news report about a Navy missile cruise colliding with a Sovjet destroyer.
( 57 Sec. )

0:36:54 The Deepcore crew continues to watch TV. The armed forces have been alarmed. Several civilians are interviewed. Everybody worries.
( 38 Sec. )

The crew tries to put the fire out. Monk is trapped under a steel joist. The others pull him out.
( 16 Sec. )

Here we have a difference between both versions.

Theatrical Version: A pallet falls over..
( 1 Sec. )

"Special Edition": A man is knocked down by a falling pallet.
( 1 Sec. )

The men try to escape the water (strangely this also appears on the DVD theatrical version....maybe a mistake in Seamless Branching).
( 5 Sec. )

Sonny tells Bud that he wants to talk his wife. Bud encourages him to keep radioing. Sonny does that. More footage of Bud walking through the destroyed Deepcore.
( 49 Sec. )

Little Geek is used to search the Deepcore. The last missing body is found.
( 72 Sec. )

One Night talks to Bud about his relationship to Lidsey.
( 61 Sec. )

Coffey demands to be on the lookout for 24 hours because he's convinced that Russians are down there. In his opinion he is in command. Catfish says he's not working for Coffey. Bud orders his crew to do the work that has to be done and they start doing it.
( 111 Sec. )

Shot of Coffey followed by a pan to the abyss.
( 37 Sec. )

Lindsey makes some coffee. She hands a cup to the injured Monk who thanks her. Lindsey moves on.
( 24 Sec. )

Hippy walks through the Deepcore and checks the living quarters of the SEALs. No one is there and the warhead is also missing. Shot of Coffey carrying the warhead.
( 41 Sec. )

The Deepcore crew talks about the NTIs and that they have the ability to control water.
( 21 Sec. )

The screen reads that Lindsey always talked too much.
( 11 Sec. )

One Night says that the signal fades. Lindsey desperately tells Bud to stay with them. They shut off as many electric devices as possible to boost the signal. Lindsey tries to cheer Bud up.
( 25 Sec. )

Lindsey tells Bud a story of when they were still together.
( 52 Sec. )

Behind Bud news reports appear on the water. Bud gets informed what's happening on the oceans and that a giant shock waves are spreading. A shot of a reporter on a beach talking about a tsunami 1000 feet high and closing in on the coast, is following. Bud thinks out loud and says the NTIs are doing this and that they can control the water. We see footage of nuclear weapons exploding. Bud understands and asks them how they know it will come this far and that they can't simply judge mankind like that. Now we see footage of past wars followed by shots of the giant tsunami at different coasts worldwide. The tsunami suddenly stops and returns into the ocean. Bud says they could have done and asks why they didn't do it.
( 310 Sec. )

Here we have a difference between both versions:

Theatrical version: One Night says: "Norfolk?"
( 2 Sec. )

"Special Edition" : Hippy asks how one stops a wave 1000 feet high.
( 8 Sec. )

The theatrical version shows a longer shot of Catfish.
( 1 Sec. )


Here we have a difference between both versions:

Theatrical version: The crew starts cheering. Lindsey says that Virgil Brigman is back on the air.
( 6 Sec. )

"Special Edition" : A different perspective: Catfish hands Lindsey the radio and she says Virgil Brigman is back on the air.
( 13 Sec. )

Lindsey says on the radio that the NTIs have been down there for a long time and that they worry about what mankind does to itself. They sent a message and want mankind to grow up. Cut to the Benthic Explorer. McBride tells DeMarco that they might be out of a job.
( 57 Sec. )

Shot of the Deepcore: the room gets flooded with bright light.
( 11 Sec. )

Here we have a difference between both versions:

Theatrical version: Lindsey turns around.
( 6 Sec. )

"Special Edition": Shot of the emerged spaceship with several shipwrecks and the Deepcore on it.
( 7 Sec. )

The Special Edition shows a dedication.
( 7 Sec. )

The font has been enlarged in the "Special Edition" thus the credits are longer. In the theatrical version the credits run 175 Sec. Whereas in the SE they run 336 Sek. Which gives us a difference of 141 Sec.
( 141 Sec. )

Two more songs have been used.
(included at 2:11:05)

Here the credits of the people involved in the "Special Edition" are following.
(included at 2:11:05)