Ant Music

Apologies for quality — this is a fly bootleg shot by somebody with a camcorder in a cinema audience, hence wobble, framing, and the occasional cough.

Thanks to Budd Wilkins on Facebook for sharing this.

It is the original, deleted ending of Saul Bass’s PHASE IV, a film I never much cared for. Bass was the world’s greatest title designer, so it’s sort of unsurprising, if disappointing, that the best part of his only feature was the end credits. Until now.

I’m presuming the producers thought Bass had flipped when they saw this. Or else he lost confidence and deleted it himself. A tragedy.

It looks more expensive, as well as better, than the entirety of the remaining sentient ant menace movie. I suspect Bass was recycling material from elsewhere. Anyhow, it’s just awe-inspiring, and wonderfully abstract. Bass, whose speciality was summing up the themes of a film in title sequence form, keeps it rather abstract much of the time. Whowhatwherewhenhow?

Amazingballs, as the kids say these days.

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12 Responses to “Ant Music”

  1. Like you, I wasn’t too impressed with the release version I saw. I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’re Saul Bass!! Amaze me!” This segment reminds me a lot of Scott Bartlett’s work.

  2. Imagine a slightly unengaging film like Phase IV ending with this insectoid mind-meld — it would have been incredible!

  3. The novelization by Barry Malzberg– one of nine novels he published that year– uses this ending, or as close to this ending as he could figure out from the original screenplay. The whole book (maybe 140 pages) reads like a Robbe-Grillet translation of, well, some crap SF book about smart ants, which was then translated back into English by somebody in a hurry. I mean this as very high praise.

  4. Ha!

    I might take a readers’ poll sometime on most demented novelizations.

  5. Only saw Phase IV once, but liked it for the most part. Would have been blown away by this.

  6. Phase IV aired on US TCM a few days ago, but I didn’t watch til the end because it looked like the same print they’ve aired previously. Wish I’d stuck with it just in case…

  7. Random thought: if Pasolini and Antonioni had collaborated on a science fiction film about deadly ants, this is what it would have looked like.

  8. So…
    What… How… Was this found? Recreated? What’s the other ending. What? I love it!

  9. My favorite crack-pot novelization is Total Recall, by Piers Anthony. Is there anything as giddily dumb as a novel written based on a movie based on a story?

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