The Final Cut

January 1, 2000

The Final CutWikipedia | The Final Cut is a 2004 film written and directed by Omar Naim. It stars Robin Williams, James Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Britton, and Genevieve Buechner. It was produced by Lions Gate Entertainment and filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and in Berlin, Germany. The film featured original music by Brian Tyler. The story takes place in a near future in which people can pay to have their babies implanted with memory chips. These “Zoe Implants”, developed by EYE Tech company, record every moment of their lives, so that they may be viewed by loved ones after one’s death. The plot centers on Alan Hakman, a “cutter”, whose job it is to edit the Zoe footage into a feature-film length piece, called a “Rememory”.

The Final Cut is about subjectivity, memory and history; posing the question, “If history is what is written and remembered, then what happens when memories are edited and rewritten?” The topic is similarly dealt with in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, wherein the protagonist works for the “Ministry of Truth”, a bureaucracy charged with re-writing history so as to reflect the current stance of Big Brother.

The film opens with Hakman (Williams) as a child, and another child named Louis Hunt, as they enter an abandoned factory. They come to a long wooden plank suspended high above the floor. Louis falls after Hakman goads him into crossing the plank. Hakman witnesses him bloody and dead. The film advances to Hakman’s adult life, portraying him creating two rememories from Zoe implants. It turns out that Hakman is a very skillful cutter whose edits can make “saints out of criminals”, and his services are highly valued by rich immoral people (Hakman sees himself doing a good deed, as a sin-eater who removes past crimes from dead people so they can rest in peace). At the screening of a rememory, a fellow cutter, Fletcher (Caviezel), offers Hakman $500,000 for the Bannister footage he recently acquired. Bannister is a former EYE Tech manager, and it appears the Zoe footage reveals details of his life of a scandalous nature, implied to be child molestation of his young daughter. It becomes clear that Fletcher is allied with the anti-Zoe protesters, and wants the footage to discredit EYE Tech and the implant. Hakman refuses to surrender it after locating in the footage a person he believes to be Hunt; he sets the “Guillotine”, which in the film is the computer used to sort and edit (“cut”) the Zoe footage, to search for more images of the man. Upon entering a bar to get a handgun, the film director Omar Naïm can be seen as a sitting customer for about two seconds.

Hakman and his colleagues break into the EYE Tech headquarters to locate Hunt’s Zoe footage as a second source, and although he does not find Hunt’s footage, because the two names begin with the letter ‘H’ he discovers a file under his own name. He realizes that he himself has a Zoe implant, violating the cutter’s code that no cutter may have one.

In his distress, Hakman brings his lover Delila (Sorvino) into his apartment, and leaves her alone with his Guillotine. He immediately undergoes the first stage of a specialized tattooing procedure to end the implant’s ability to record audio, he has to wait a week later to get a second tattoo that will remove video. When he returns he puts bullets in his firearm under the belief that Fletcher and his associate have broken into his apartment to steal the Bannister footage. Instead, he finds Delila poring over the full Zoe footage of her late boyfriend. Hakman apparently has kept the footage and has vicariously used it to fill in what’s lacking in his life, experiencing their relationship in all its passion and perhaps turning it into the basis for all the feelings he has for her. Delila becomes angry that her private memory with her boyfriend is used in such a manner, and shoots the Guillotine, the bullet hits the Bannister card destroying its footage.

Hakman then requests that his colleagues perform a dangerous procedure to biopsy the Zoe footage from his own brain, so he can obtain closure on Hunt’s death. On viewing the footage, which is much more accurate than his own recollection, he discovers that Louis survived the childhood fall, and what he mistook for blood was actually spilled paint.

When Fletcher and his associate finally break in to steal the Bannister footage, they find out it has been destroyed. Hakman lies to Bannister’s wife that a technical fault destroyed it. Hakman visits Louis’ grave, and is joined by Fletcher, who has discovered through the tattoo parlour that Hakman has an implant and that it recorded the critical images from the Bannister footage. Foregoing the biopsy procedure, Fletcher chases Hakman through the graveyard filled with video tombstones, eventually catching up to Alan but hesitant to shoot him. Fletcher’s associate, having concealed his presence during the chase between Alan and Fletcher, then shoots Hakman in the back, killing him. The film closes with Fletcher cutting images of Hakman’s editing of the Bannister footage, promising that Hakman’s life will mean something.

In the last shot of the movie, Alan Hakman looks at himself in a mirror through his own eyes. But when he looks away and walks off, the camera keeps watching the empty mirror instead of watching what he sees.

The film won the award for best screenplay at the Deauville Film Festival and was nominated for best film at the Catalonian International Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival.