On the night of May, 3, 2018 (a.k.a. the night before I ended up in the ER after trying to cut up an X-Files action figure), I decided it was finally time to do a nice rewatch of Fight the Future. But how should I watch it? There are so many options… Theatrical version, extended cut, 1998 commentary, 2008 commentary, Blu-ray, DVD, VHS… Or, how about watch it while reading along with the script?
I remember being an X-Files obsessed teenager back in 1998, obsessively looking for movie tidbits online before the film’s release, attending the X-File Expo in Washington DC, and hearing rumors of that infamous script printed on red paper to prevent photocopying and leaking spoilers. Then after the movie came out, a collector’s edition VHS box set was released that included the widescreen version of the movie (the full screen VHS was more common back then), a “making of” video, a “making of” book with lots of nice production photos, mini movie posters, a little strip of actual film cels, and a copy of the script, faithfully reproduced on that blinding red paper. I remember staring at this box set longingly in Suncoast Video as I roamed the mall in my high school years, too broke to actually buy it. It wasn’t until many years, a job, and an eBay account later that I finally got my hands on that box set, and even though the VHS tapes may now be obsolete, the extras are still as nice as ever.
So, I pulled out the script and flipped through it, immediately feeling sorry for the cast and crew who needed to subject their eyes to that beautiful visual nightmare for months on end while shooting that movie. I knew there was a copy of the script online in normal, readable text, but I was going to do this the old fashioned way and read along on paper, snapping photos on my phone when coming across any interesting little tidbits to share. As it turns out, not only is black-on red tough to photocopy, it’s also kind of a pain to photograph on a smartphone in low light, heh.
But anyway, here are those tweets so that you may share in this journey with me.
11:35 PM – 3 May 2018 The town of Blackwood. Coincidence? I think not.
I actually do kinda wish I knew where my fullscreen VHS version was, because there’s actually more vertical space you can see on the screen than in the widescreen version. The fullscreen version wasn’t pan and scan. They actually filmed in both widescreen and fullscreen at the same time, so both versions will give you a tiny bit more of the picture than the other, either vertically or horizontally. At one point in the early 2000s, I actually put two TVs next to each other, one with the fullscreen VHS and one with the widescreen DVD playing at the same time to demonstrate this. I wish I could find the picture I took of that setup, haha.
Not really fully reading the script, but kind of skimming here and there. Lots of minor differences. The conversation about Mulder’s panic face isn’t in there or the follow-up to that when he’s trapped with the bomb.
Scully being a fucking boss was certainly in there, though.
Lots of little differences in the dialogue.
Different dialogue in the bar scene. Again, final version is much better. This is what was replaced by: “Looks like 86 is your lucky number.” “You know, one is the loneliest number.”
I think the “one is the loneliest number” gets the same point across in a more interesting way (and a fun cover of the song on the soundtrack, too).
So many great Mulder lines are missing from the script. I wonder how many of them were all David.
No scene in the script with Mulder in the cab changing his mind to go to Scully’s place. He just shows up there.
Cut lines from the booty call scene, er, uh… I mean… drunk Mulder showing up at Scully’s apartment.
In the script, Mulder gives Kurtzweil his cell phone, which is why he’s randomly calling Scully from a pay phone in the next scene.
Interestingly, other versions of the script have Scully say, “I don’t believe this. I don’t fucking believe this.” But the rest of the (cut) dialogue is the same. I wonder if it’s a different draft or if it was just removed from the commercially sold version of the script.
I remember interviews before the film was released talked about how they had Scully saying “fuck” (they could use the word once and still have the movie be PG-13) and had a shot of Mulder’s ass in the hospital, but both of those things were eventually cut. (Mulder’s ass does make an appearance in the bloopers, though–but even the bloopers didn’t get “officially” released to the public until much later.)
[Interesting fact: The movie’s code name, “Blackwood” (printed in the upper left corner of each page), is also the name of the town where I was going to high school when the movie came out. I took it as some kind of sign. LOL]
Also, the cut dialogue here kind of reminds me of a slightly less harsh version of this part of IWTB: “Mulder, I have been through this too many years with you, believing you can you save her. You cannot save her, not now and not ever.”
[Update: My tweets about the hallway scene didn’t seem to make it over into this post, and that certainly won’t do, so here are the full pages.]
I think the dialogue in the hallway scene was much stronger in the final film, but let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that set direction…
"She is silent, moved. In spite of all her desire not to
be. She moves to Mulder, holds him. They break slightly
and she looks up at Mulder with deep respect, admiration
and... kisses him on the forehead. When...
...suddenly a physical intimacy we've never seen. A
heat and passion that can't be denied. The opportunity
for the inevitable has presented itself.
The moment of truth has arrived. Mulder is staring at
Scully as she's looking back at him. His head moves
slightly toward hers -- as one of his hands moves up to
her neck, drawing her to him. Where there is hesitation
on her part, there is also desire."
Definitely some differences in the car scene with WMM. “Find Agent Scully. Only then will you realize the scope and grandeur of The Project. And why you must save her. Because only her science can save you.”
The script states pretty clearly that Kurtzweil is in the trunk, where it’s just heavily implied in the film.
I like this description of the Sno-Cat: “Crawling across the harsh frozen land like a doomed insect.”
When Mulder fell in the ship and yelled “shit!”, my cat turned to look at the TV, and she’s been watching the screen intently with wide eyes ever since.
“Then you were frozen and I remember I hugged you until you were not frozen anymore…”
Carter ships it. He just doesn’t want to admit it in public. LOL
And that concludes our script watch of Fight the Future!