In a series of posts exclusive to the site, we detail some of the unknown facts on the development of the screenplay, the longer version of Michael Mann’s THE KEEP and various things uncovered as part of our journey,
Dennis Lynton Clark’s THE KEEP
Before Michael Mann came on board to tackle the script and film version of THE KEEP, Dennis Lynton Clark wrote a draft based on the novel by F.Paul Wilson. Despite battling ill-health, Clark gave us an exclusive interview for the documentary and we’ll be providing a full breakdown of this fascinating discovery as part of the additional content.
The longer version of THE KEEP
Through the various drafts of THE KEEP, there are many changes and revisions to the ending, some of which were shot, others where the impracticality of what was written made it impossible to film. In virtually every draft we have read the ending is different. But in the first draft and certainly what we see a glimpse of in the opening sequence of the theatrical cut of the film is the symbolism of birds as a metaphor for what surrounds the Romanian village. This reference amongst many, and the way in which the light and dark are separated by the bridge is another fascinating element to Mann’s visual ideas for the film.
In an almost circular narrative device in Mann’s first draft, in the climax of the film, we end up with a bird building a nest on top of THE KEEP tower to suggest that life begins again now that the fortress and the evil within has been destroyed, in keeping with that classical fairytale ending.
Opening sequence in storyboard form
Ending of first draft
The White doves glimpsed at in the establishing shots of the village
The original summer release trailer with alternate footage
A Tale of a Father & Two sons.
A lot has been said about one of the key and early deleted scenes which is carried over from the book into the film, where Morgan Sheppard’s character Alexandru is introduced and seemingly disappears from the film entirely with his sons.
What we can confirm is dramatically it was a big, logistically tough scene for Mann and his crew to pull off in Wales in 1982. According to actor David Cardy’s vivid memory of the shoot, it was made even more difficult by the fact it was shot more than once where the change of costume meant a huge delay in getting Morgan Sheppard out of the mud and cleaned up for a ltd wardrobe change, in order to re-shoot the scene in whole or in part again. Having to go up and down the makeshift hoist lift, since there was no easy access into the quarry delayed the schedule even further.
With the quarry becoming a quagmire of water, the gale force winds, rain, smoke and fullers earth (now banned for film shoots) being used for added atmosphere, Mann was adamant of getting the most out of the scene, including the particular details in which the axe in the scene would fall and rest into Morgan Sheppard’s back. See picture of Mann’s focus on this which appeared in print for the Starburst coverage in the summer of 1983.
To build on David Cardy’s memories further, we’ve enclosed a rare pic of him with the axe that he had to carry around for literally the whole shoot, such was Mann’s demands. He features with his on-screen brother John Eastham, who also appeared in the lost sequence and can be seen in the background of both pictures.
Both of the actors who played brothers in the film were able to give us some rare pictures helping us piece together the sequence in still form. This and other rare stills, call sheets and script excerpts will be available in the final piece on the longer version of THE KEEP as part of our bonus content.