The legacy of Hollywood maverick Nicholas Ray is looming large on the Lido where his freshly restored, groundbreaking “We Can’t Go Home Again” finally world-preemed in its finished form — along with a new docu and a panel discussion — ahead of today’s centennial of the “Rebel Without a Cause” helmer’s birth.
A hastily assembled version of “Can’t Go Home” screened in Cannes in 1973 as a work-in-progress. The experimental, multi-narrative film, shot in the early 1970s by Ray in collaboration with his film students at SUNY Binghamton’s Harpur College, in upstate New York, has now found its definitive form, faithful to his original conception.
“I started trying to do this right after Nick died 32 years ago,” Susan Ray, his widow, told Variety.
But, she candidly admitted, “I’m glad I wasn’t able to actually do it until quite recently, because I needed to mature.”
During this time, she realized that, instead of re-editing, what it needed was just big improvements in the visuals and sound quality of the existing version.
“We didn’t recut at all; and I think it was a wise decision,” she said. “If I had tried meddle with it, it would have been someone else’s film.”
Ray describes the boundary-pushing work, which incorporates layered political and psychedelic images shot in several formats, as being “somewhere on the interface between cinema and fine art.”
“I think we are now in a time when the vocabulary of this film is much more recognizable by young people,” she noted.
Venice chief Marco Mueller had been interested in reviving the pic ever since he was director of the Rotterdam Film Festival 20 years ago.
And, in his current role as Lido Lord, Mueller’s stamp of approval paved the way for it to happen, Ray said.
The restoration was carried out by the Nicholas Ray Foundation with the Venice Biennale, the Netherlands’ EYE Film Institute and the Academy Film Archive.
Following its Venice bow, pic will screen at the New York Film Festival, among a slew of other events.
As a companion piece, Susan Ray also shot a documentary titled “Don’t Expect Too Much,” exploring her husband’s approach to directing and the relationship between his life and art in the latter years of his life.
Oscilloscope recently picked up North American rights to both titles. The plan is for a DVD and multiple digital platform release in 2012.
Both films will air on Turner Classic Movies in late October.