Release: Dec 13, 2020 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB
Comparison between the Straight Cut and the theatrical version (both included on StudioCanal's German/French Blu-ray).
The scandalous film IRREVERSIBLE now in a chronological narrative order
First released in 2002, Gaspar Noé's scandalous film Irreversible is arguably his best-known work to date. The presence of Monica Bellucci in the leading role is hard to resist, and the two big shock scenes have lost none of their explosive power to this day. 17 years later, a new film version premiered at the Venice Film Festival that plays with the film's main premise. This becomes even clearer with the description on the German HD premiere, which has been available since December 10, 2020: The Blu-rays each have the years 2002 and 2020 noted as a defining element, while the main disc was labeled "Inversion Integrale" (in case you open it via your computer drive).
In the film itself, however, only the familiar original title Irreversible appears, and the new variant is also marketed in a big way as Straight Cut. Similar to Christopher Nolan's Memento, released in 2000, a major gimmick was known to be that the plot is not told chronologically but backwards piece by piece. This new film version reverses just that, telling the plot "straight" or in a straight line instead. However, it didn't stay exclusively that way, because on closer inspection, the "straight cut" even runs 7 minutes shorter. So what was removed for this and is this cinematic experiment worth it?
Let's first recapitulate what Gaspar Noé himself commented on his new cut at the time: "In this clockwise cut, a few passages without dialogues created lulls in the action and it is for reasons of rhythm alone, not any kind of censorship, that they have been removed [...] The same story is no longer a tragedy, this time it is a drama that brings out the psychology of the characters and the mechanisms that lead some of them to a murderous barbarity [...] Removing the anti-clockwise structure, a mentally invasive formal concept, brings out the actors' performances that much more forcefully. The gentleness or violence of the situations and the emotional states of the characters become even more apparent."
Differences in the Straight Cut of IRREVERSIBLE
First of all, let's talk about the cuts compared to the theatrical version: For the most part, these are really just filler moments around the time jumps. As a stylistic device, you see wild camera movements, so that you are virtually pulled into a maelstrom, which in each case leads to a time jump. This wasn't completely eliminated, but it was heavily reduced when it simply made more sense in the now stringent storyline. There are only three missing minutes at a time when we move into the gay club "Rectum", where we can experience the wild goings-on there with only discreetly red-lit interiors. It does have a bit of a bitter aftertaste that this scene, of all things, with partly erect penises, was cut. It is also noticeable that in the course of this, the impressive scene towards the end had to give way, in which the camera once again passes the poster of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 with the baby and moves to Bellucci with a pregnant belly.
Noé, as quoted above, sees a merit in the fact that psychological aspects would be more effective in the chronological sequence. One can certainly argue about that. The film, of course, now follows a simpler dramaturgy: to the quietly paced beginning, Bellucci and Cassel are a couple in love, she becomes pregnant, and after an argument at a party, there is a rape in the pedestrian underpass, followed by Cassel's act of revenge. The appeal of the original version was precisely that at the beginning you are surprised by the outbreak of violence and can actually hardly feel any sympathy for Cassel, who acts completely manic and aggressive. It is only revealed in bits and pieces that he killed the wrong person, for example, or got carried away with his egocentric behavior at the party after taking drugs. Even the tensions caused by the love triangle with Pierre are only sorted out at the end in the quiet bedtime talk, and the revelation of another unborn life in her womb is the big bang at the end. Self-explanatory, the film seems different because of the flipped structure, but the elements in the form of the acting performances have of course been there all along.
What also needs to be pointed out: There are basically no really new scenes in the Straight Cut. Nevertheless, some raw material (without dialogue) has been arranged completely differently here and there, so that the impression of new scenes is created. Mirror effects have also been applied sporadically, though these are probably mainly intended to give the Straight Cut a more "normal" feel. However, one can emphasize that the famous text panel with which the film ends has also been changed. All in all, a thoroughly interesting bonus version, but the reverse chronology of the original version and associated stylistic devices such as the many tracking shots accompanied by ominous soundscapes still retain their special appeal.
Runtimes are ordered as follows: Straight Cut Blu-ray in 25fps / Theatrical Version Blu-ray in 25fps
Note: We follow the course of the Straight Cut in the report.
More black screen at beginning of Straight Cut.
Not included in cut duration/amount.
+ 6 sec.
00:23-01:28 / 00:17 or 01:34-02:45
The Straight Cut starts with the opening credits. This comes a little later in the original theatrical version (identical), after the credits coming here as a stylistic element of introduction.
Between the credits and the opening credits, the theatrical version had a rotating shot of the room with Philippe Nahon. In the Straight Cut, this shot was completely omitted and only this exclusive moment was illustrated in the following.
01:28-02:24 / 92:23-93:07
The Straight Cut starts right away with the clatter on the soundtrack and flickering picture, which constantly shows the Milky Way briefly in between. This is similar to the end of the original version, but the flickering effect has been reduced somewhat. In the Straight Cut, the Milky Way is now more clearly visible.
Straight Cut 12 sec longer
02:24-04:06 / 90:11-92:23
While the Straight Cut fades from this clacking drifting into white to the sky, in the theatrical version this is part of a tracking shot out of the house to the outside.
Then you see basically the same shot with the meadow, but this has been mirrored horizontally. After the camera has turned umpteen times, it lingers much longer in the theatrical version with the classical music on the white sky. In the Straight Cut, it fades to red quite quickly instead.
Theatrical version 30 sec longer
04:06-04:10 / 75:14-75:19
We now continue in the Straight Cut with the extended bed scene. During the spinning tracking shot to the opening, 1 sec was removed in the Straight Cut, otherwise the film then runs completely identically for 14 minutes.
18:00 / 89:09-90:11
While the Straight Cut fades to black from the ceiling immediately, the theatrical version lingers there longer. The camera continues to rotate around the room, eventually landing back at the 2001 poster. Below it, Alex sits holding her belly with her unborn child. The camera moves again over the poster up to the ceiling and then out the window. Here, the music already begins, which then continues over the long tracking shot over the meadow, which has already been described above.
62 sec (= 1:02 min)
18:00 / 66:15
Now we jump ahead 9 minutes to where the Straight Cut started before. Off it goes in the middle of the tracking shot down from the ceiling in the elevator.
26:43 / 74:58-75:14
The tracking shot to the ceiling in the subway actually goes on a bit longer, and it's going wildly down the subway shaft. This leads over to the bed scene already described above.
Recut / Alternative
26:43-26:47 / 53:50-53:54
There is a jump back over 12 minutes. To introduce the conversation between Marcus and Pierre, the Straight Cut briefly has a black screen and you can already hear the conversation off-screen. In the theatrical version, you see more camera movement during those first few seconds.
No time difference
39:07 / 40:46
Again, it's about 13 minutes back to the place where Alex goes on the road. This time,nothing is lost in the transition itself for the first time.
52:13 / 39:06
After the rape went by completely without any differences, this time it only jumps to less than 2 minutes before the previous scene block: Marcus and Pierre leave the party.
53:45 / 40:38-40:46
Towards the end of the scene, the camera actually turns a bit longer and Marcus whimpers Alex's name. This transitions into some black screen.
53:45 / 34:05-34:10
We jump ahead of the previous scene block by about 5 minutes compared to the original version: Pierre is being questioned in the ambulance. A first blurred camera round fell under the table.
58:42 / 29:34-29:38
After the piece has passed unchanged, we go back almost 5 minutes to the part where Marcus is staggering around outside in a rage. This shot starts a bit earlier in the theatrical version with a few lights as well as a trip down from the streetlights to the ground.
63:09 / 26:51
It goes back just under 3 minutes to the cab ride with heated discussion between Marcus and Pierre.
65:52 / 24:47
And again about 2 minutes back to the scene where Marcus stops at a bar.
67:50 / 26:45-26:51 and 24:21 respectively
When the camera returns to Pierre after the turn, there is a small jump cut in the Straight Cut. The shot of Pierre that actually follows here and the following camera pan have been removed. Instead, it continues with the "next" shot of Pierre, which started 2.5 minutes earlier in the original version. This piece is only quite short, lasting just under half a minute before the next recut.
Here, we only depict the shot cut for the Straight Cut.
Alternative / Recut
68:16-68:25 / 11:36-14:49
Now we jump back about 10 minutes or rather even a bit earlier. The Straight Cut shows here very abbreviated a few blurry shots outside and then is already right inside the club.
In the theatrical version, these camera pans outside are much longer. After half a minute, moreover, you are already in the club, with only red light from the ceilings for a long time. The music becomes alternately dull or somewhat louder, in between one can already see the first people. Various sexual acts are implied and can also be clearly heard on the audio track (moaning, whipping, general rumbling).
Theatrical version 184.2 sec (= 3:04 min) longer
77:29 / 23:53-24:21
After the fire extinguisher scene, various other camera pans through the club were removed. The music slowly fades out on this one, followed by the first indistinct shots outside.
77:29-77:56 / 04:20
For this, there is a separate transition in the Straight Cut from the club to the scene with Philippe Nahon that now follows chronologically. Apparently, these are shots played backwards, which were shown in the theatrical version at the beginning of 11:36-14:49. However, these are partly equipped with other color filters.
Thus, we have jumped again 6.5 minutes behind the beginning of the previous scene block from the original film.
+ 26.7 sec
Alternative / Recut
84:19-84:32 / 10:44-11:36
In the Straight Cut, the camera pan from Pierre to the side is followed by just a few more turns showing the surroundings of the moving ambulance. Then the credits roll.
The theatrical version instead continues to linger in the ambulance, and so Marcus is shown again. This then pans out again and there are short different shots than in the Straight Cut.
Theatrical version 29 sec longer
Alternative / Recut
84:32-85:49 / 00:17-01:34
The credits make chronological sense in the Straight Cut at the end. It also runs conventionally from top to bottom. In the original theatrical version, it ran backwards right at the start of the film instead. Also, the picture flickers (surprisingly) a bit more in the Straight Cut: it's constantly dimmed heavily for a few frames in between.
No time difference
85:49-86:01 / 93:08-93:20
One more little surprise at the end. Both versions end with a short text panel. The version from the theatrical version was thereby described in countless analyses as the core message of the film: "Le temps detruit tout" or "Time destroys everything". Philippe Nahon commented this cynically himself in his guest appearance.
In the Straight Cut, it became "Le temps révèle tout" or "Time reveals everything" in red lettering.
No time difference
Lastly noted: the part coming in the original theatrical version as an intro block from 02:45-04:20 (so 95 sec or 1:35 min) is completely missing and can't be clearly classified chronologically either. Without already somehow revealing more about the plot, it is driven here through the apartment block area. At the beginning, you hear the siren of the ambulance with Marcus, eventually, the arrival at the part of the house where Philippe Nahon presumably lives. From time index 04:20 of the theatrical version, the scene with Nahon that comes in the Straight Cut at 77:56 runs synchronously, as noted above.