MAJOR SPOILERS!!! Libertine Comparisons play v. film

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MAJOR SPOILERS!!! Libertine Comparisons play v. film

Unread postby FANtasticJD » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:24 am

Image

During last year's discussion of The Libertine I posted comparisons between the play and the Toronto (work-in-progress) version of The Libertine. Liz and DITHOT asked me to update that, including a comparison to the final cut of the film. To give you some background, I've read the play many times, saw the work-in-progress version twice and the final cut 5 times. I think you can tell how special this has become to me. With that intro, here goes. I'm breaking this up into several posts.

SPOILERS!!!
Dont read further if you want some surprises left when seeing the film.

Before we start let me say a few words:
I loved loved loved the film. At first viewing I thought the final version was better, tighter, more focused than the work in progress version. I especially liked that the long drawn out death scene was significantly trimmed. It held far too much importance in the WiP and is much better balanced without losing impact in the final cut. If you didn't know that certain things had been cut, you wouldn't miss them – so read this forewarned. While some of the more endearing things were cut, so were some of the less so. There are a few popular photos that are from scenes that are cut. For example, the picture of Wilmot slumped on the floor by the bed, his wife looking long-suffering, is from a cut scene. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/Libertinepic1.jpg I must add that subsequent viewings made me like and understand a few things better and become more upset with others.

Consider my summary below just one person’s opinion and not in any way expressing major disappointment in the final product. I might have done some things differently and I pray that a bunch of things are included on the DVD but the pros did a good job. I hope others who have seen either or both versions will add their thoughts.

http://wmg.photobucket.com/widgets/dynamicflash.php?featuretype=bucketstamp&featurename=Libertine1&pa=/v299/maginct/Stamps/
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Characters and Relationships

Unread postby FANtasticJD » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:28 am

ADDITIONAL CHARACTERS

Wilmot's mother:
Play: Referred to in several places but never seen
WiP: Included as secondary character, Wilmot shows animosity, even hatred, toward her
Final cut: Much of interaction with mother cut. The initial insolent exchange, a later suggestive, mocking almost kiss and slightly softer acknowledgement near the end are all that are included; the extreme animosity is not as clear

Wilmot’s children by Malet:
Play: Multiple children referred to, not seen
WiP: Son seen in deathbed scene; Wilmot shows him affection. Other children not seen.
Final cut: Son has been totally eliminated from the film.

Wilmot’s child by Barry
Play: Last time he sees Barry, she tells him she is expecting and child will be delivered over the summer
WiP: Last time he sees Barry, she tells him she delivered a girl, named Elizabeth, the prior summer.
Final cut: Same as WiP

Chaplain and Bishop:
Play: Not seen. Religious conversion referred to in Sackville’s closing speech and confirmed in Wilmot’s postlude
WiP: Clergy by Wilmot’s bedside during his decline and ultimate death, leading him to his religious conversion. This closely follows Burnet’s version of historical fact.
Final cut: With much of Wilmot's deathbed scene cut, the parts with the clergy were also shortened...but they are there for the religious conversion.

KEY RELATIONSHIPS

Relationship with Barry:
Play: Barry loves Rochester, at least for awhile, although is never submissive. She does try to protect him. At one point she bursts into his house while he is with his wife. When he sees her for the last time in the theatre, he proposes to her, sparking Barry’s final harsh dismissal, pointing out that he never understood her.
WiP: Barry shows little love for Rochester although they have an affair. In addition to some acting coaching on the filthy London streets, they have a steamy liason there. Later, she goes to his house when he is playing cards with his cronies. His friends urge him to ignore her but he is compelled to go to her. Scene shows the strength of his infatuation. The last time they see each other, in the theatre when he proposes, he is quite far gone in his disease, in pain, beginning to be disfigured, incontinent. This is in line with historical fact: at the time of their daughter’s birth, he referred to himself as “almost blind, utterly lame”. It has been quite a long time since they have seen each other. The scene ends the same way as it does in the play with much the same dialogue.
Final Cut: Not much change from WiP. The steamy street encounter is cut. Barry's initial coaching by Harris is cut, weakening the impact of the startling difference in Rochester's naturalistic approach to his coaching. My impression is that more affection/love is shown by Barry in the final cut but I can't nail down any scenes added. In the final scene at the theatre, Rochester's marriage proposal is cut (not sure if it was cut in the WiP). He refers to it but that's all. Otherwise, the final scene is the same.

Relationship with his wife:
Play: Malet is seen briefly in a few scenes near the beginning of the play when she is in town for the portrait. The Pall Mall scene, where she has an aside that describes her abduction by the earl, the portrait scene and the scene when Barry bursts in on them are included. At the end of the play, she reappears when he goes home to her ill and defeated to die in her arms. She is referred to at other times but is not a major force in the play.
WiP: Malet plays a pivotal role with the additions of the carriage scene, the country rustication, the receipt of the portrait and a more important role at the end with the prolonged deathbed scenes.
Final Cut: Malet's role is significantly cut, with the carriage scene, a modified country scene, a shortened confrontation when he returns to the country, sick and dying, collapsing in her arms crying and the final but much shortened deathbed scene still included. Otherwise, it is closer to the play.

Wilmot’s underlying reason for hating Charles II
Play: As a child, Wilmot's father was always with the king. He wrote loving letters to his son but never came home. Wilmot told the king that he hated him for needing his father with him, not allowing him to be with his son. Charles retorts that he didn't need Wilmot's father but that Wilmot senior didn't want to be home with his family. Wilmot's letters to his wife and son ironically were much the same.
WiP: I can't remember Wilmot mentioning his father's letters but he writes similar letters to his own son as well as his wife. He never has the conversation with the king, a loss since it explains so much about why he is the way he is. Including it, but near the beginning, would clarify much that happens.
Final Cut: The relationship between the two men is basically unchanged from the WiP. No mention of letters to his son are made. The film highlights Wilmot’s discomfort/anger at having to cede anything to the king and hates being lectured to, especially by him. It still leaves the underlying and deeply felt anger unexplained.
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Differences in scenes

Unread postby FANtasticJD » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:34 am

LIBERTINE: PLAY V. WORK IN PROGRESS CUT V. FINAL CUT OF FILM – SCENES:

Carriage ride to London with wife (aka, everyone's favorite film opening and a definite mood-setter)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/Screen%20caps/Carriageride.jpg
Play: Other than the prologue, the play opens with the Will's Coffee House scene
WiP: After the prologue, the film opens with King Charles re-calling Wilmot three months early from the latest court banishment. Wilmot and his wife are at their country home getting ready to set out for London, Elizabeth going along so they can get their portrait painted. In the coach, as his wife remembers her earlier abduction by him (a favorite turn-on for Wilmot), Wilmot pleasures her handily. This is a very sensual scene. Upon arrival in London, he kisses his sleeping wife as he gets out of the carriage, leaving her alone and asleep, sniffs his finger and heads into the coffee house. We get to see the grime, muddiness and rats of London outside the coffee house.
Final Cut: A small graphic part of the “pleasuring” is cut but the rest is the same as the WiP.

Portrait Scene:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/libertine_68a.jpg
Play: Rochester insults wife by desiring a monkey to take her place in the portrait. She implores him to cut her out of his heart so he no longer hurts her so much. They are interrupted by Barry's arrival. Alcock purchases the monkey for £10 and brings it to Rochester who comments about the cheap price for a lifelong companion.
WiP: Much the same but without the Barry interruption. Portrait is seen fleetingly later when the coach arrives at the country estate. Elizabeth thinks it's the earl and opens the coach door eagerly. The portrait, with monkey, is lying in the otherwise empty coach.
Final Cut: Same as WiP except the comment about the cost of the lifelong companion is cut. The portrait is sent to Elizabeth in the same cruel way.

Wilmot's pornographic play:
Image
Play: Barry alerts king to the nature of the play. He shows up for rehearsal and stops the play before it is publicly performed, banishing Wilmot. Barry tells Wilmot she did it to save him and all he had to do was apologize to the king.
WiP: King bribes Barry to spy on Wilmot during writing/rehearsal of play. Wilmot realizes this and gives Barry false speeches to make her think it is legitimate. Play is actually staged before the French ambassador and the court, very graphically, with Wilmot playing the lead role. King stops it in mid-performance. As Wilmot is about to be arrested, Billy Downs sets fire to part of the set and pulls Wilmot away. He and Barry exchange a prolonged but telling and silent look before Billy pulls him away again, saving Wilmot from certain incarceration in the Tower.
Final Cut: Other than a few minor cuts, same as WiP.

Country Rustication:
Image
Play: Refers to it but it is not shown; all scenes take place in London / Epsom except for the final scene.
WiP: Rochester and Alcock arrive at country home to find driveway a sea of mud. Rochester is furious and has a channel dug to divert water. A worker is killed during the dig as the channel partly collapses on him. This scene shows one of the few times that Rochester takes positive action – and tragedy results. It adds depth to his despair and motivation for his self-destruction.
Final Cut: The arrival to the sea of mud is included, most of the rest of the scene is cut, including the trench and death of the worker. A comment by his wife to his mother about encouraging Wilmot in his country improvements is left and makes no sense. No reason is giving for Rochester’s mad dash back to London nor for his drunken despair outside Lizzie Barrie’s place. This is a major weakness in the final cut, one which flattens the portrayal of Wilmot’s character.

Sundial:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/Screen%20caps/Sundial.jpg
Play: Sundial is used by the king as an example to Wilmot of how positive action can produce positive results. Much is made separately about the high cost for it. Wilmot and his cronies destroy it in a drunken rage. Barrie pulls Wilmot away to safety. King lets Wilmot know that he knows it was he who did it.
WiP: Sundial is seen, commented on but not touched.
Final Cut: Same as WiP.

Death of Billy Downs scene:
Image
Play: The merry gang, drunk, leave the races, Sackville leading them to what he thinks is a whorehouse. Instead, it’s the constable’s house. Things get tense but Etherege, Downs and Sackville are able to calm the constable. For no reason, Rochester draws his sword. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/Screen%20caps/Trailer-hires-39.jpg As Billy tries to hold him back, Billy is mortally wounded. The others run off leaving him to die.
WiP: Wilmot and Billy Downs are in each other’s arms in the inn at Epsom where they are discovered by Etherege and Sackville after the races. All drunk, they leave for the supposed house of the town whore.
Final Cut: This is the same as the WiP I think. The scene in the inn is murky and the dialogue difficult to understand. It took me repeated viewings to realize everything was there.

Dr. Bendo:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/TotalFilmArticle1b-1205-cropped.jpg
Play: Scene ends with Barry coming to tell Wilmot that he is being called back to court. The overall focus of the scene is somewhat more humorous, less dark. No bath scene is included and the physical deterioration isn't specifically written.
WiP: Scene includes Jane and Wilmot drumming up business, a parade of female patients examined, poked, prodded and shagged. When they leave, Wilmot takes off his Bendo getup to reveal marked physical deterioration due to syphilis. He then receives a medicinal bath. Scene ends with King visiting "Bendo" and telling Wilmot that he will punish him by leaving him to live with himself. He is not recalled to court. Barry does not visit him. Overall focus of the scene is less humorous, showing much more darkness.
Final Cut: This scene was badly mangled and re-ordered. The bath scene precedes it without any explanation and with dialogue about the remedy being worse than the disease difficult to understand. All that is shown of the Dr. Bendo scene is Jane and Wilmot drumming up business in their getups – but none of the lines of women nor any of the shagging is shown. Only one “patient” is shown, nude with a superficial exam done. While the shock of his unmasking and showing his physical decline remains, it is not as negative as it was when it was apparent he willingly infected innocent “patients” with syphilis. The scenes with Rochester trying to send Jane away only to be interrupted by the king’s arrival remain unchanged. The overall result was awkward and confusing.

House of Lords Scene:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/Screen%20caps/Trailer-hires-38a.jpg
Play: King asks Wilmot generally to support him by speaking in the House of Lords but the scene where he does is not included
WiP: Toward the end of the movie, Wilmot struggles into the House of Lords on two canes and delivers a strong speech which supports maintaining the established succession of the monarchy. The opening of the speech has self-deprecating humor which both disarms the House of Lords and keeps the king guessing as to what Rochester is up to. The latter part was a real speech that the historical Rochester delivered, also as a very ill man nearing the end of his life and with similar impact. In the movie, when Charles thanks him, he tells the king that he didn’t do it for Charles, he did it for himself. The scene confirms what the king had said: people listen to Rochester and he has the power to effect positive change.
Final Cut: Same as WiP

Other differences between Play, WiP and Final Cut:
Play: At the end, Sackville comments about Wilmot’s good friend dying in battle, having promised each other, if one died that one would return to the survivor to report on the afterlife. It was from that time that Rochester stopped believing in God. This was based on historical fact.
WiP: At various times during the film, flashes of the gory battle scene flashed in Wilmot's mind. It was unexplained and confusing as it was done. Done properly or verbally explained, it could have added depth to his torment and motivations, especially as he had been a war hero himself.
Final Cut: All references to the battle scene, his friend's death and his own past glory were eliminated.

WiP: The Earl takes a moody walk through a park filled with various lewd shenanigans as one of Rochester's real poems is read. As the film progresses, several visual flashes of the same orgy-like park scene flash in Wilmot's mind, depicting the state he was in. They were confusing and unnecessary.
Final Cut: The flashbacks were cut. The walk through the park remained, unnecessary and jarring.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/maginct/Movies/The%20Libertine/libertine34b.jpg
Last edited by FANtasticJD on Mon Dec 26, 2005 5:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Personal thoughts / House of Lords speech

Unread postby FANtasticJD » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:37 am

http://wmg.photobucket.com/widgets/dynamicflash.php?featuretype=bucketstamp&featurename=Libertine2&pa=/v299/maginct/Stamps/

The following are some of my own thoughts and comments, for what it's worth.

Libertine: Play v. Movie - Overall focus:
Play: Wilmot’s life and decline. It ends rather abruptly upon Wilmot’s return home with Malet pouring out the wine and Wilmot’s collapsing in her arms crying. There is no sense of fulfillment or any redemption for Wilmot.
WiP: Wilmot’s decline and death; movie has a darker viewpoint than the play with a great deal made of his physical deterioration. In his first visit to the theatre, he shows evidence of deteriorating health (“something rotten has got into my guts” is delivered as he winces in pain). It contains a lot of humor as well and ends with a rather better outlook, Wilmot having come to terms with his own demons and spirituality and with his loving family around him. The full impact of his diseases is shown with the deterioration graphically illustrated throughout the film, from the early "pain in the gut" through growing decrepitude and incontinence to the final blind, noseless shell. The epilogue is similar to the play but more impassioned with the fourth (two more than the play) and final “Do you like me…now” a beseeching whisper. It is delivered by Wilmot back in his attractive state, looking the same as the opening monologue. Wilmot is shown in his best and worst lights, a strong multi-faceted and conflicted character.
Final Cut: There is less focus on Rochester’s decline and deathbed. The film is more focused on his relationships with, in order of impact, the King, Lizzie Barry and his wife. It also focuses more on his own spiritual decline in parallel with his physical one. Some of the worst of his character (e.g., Dr. Bendo scene) and the best of it (war hero, interaction with his son) and motivations (trench scene, hatred for mother and king) were cut or remain missing. Otherwise, the final cut is very similar to the WiP. Wilmot is shown mostly in his worst light, still a strong and multi-faceted, conflicted character but with blunted positive motivations which was so heartbreaking in the WiP. This is the biggest overall disappointment for me in the changes made. That Johnny was still able to bring much of this out is further testament to his outstanding acting.

LIBERTINE: PLAY V. FILM - GENERAL COMMENTS:
Most of the rest of the film is very close to the play, often word for word. The impact of seeing and hearing it so well acted made it much more alive for me than when I first read the play. The nuances and, especially, the humor were made vivid and real. The play, for example, on Alcock’s name was hilarious. Most fascinating was seeing how Johnny brought Wilmot to life, making him a natural center of all attention and a focal point, even when ill or out of favor. He brought his usual humor to the role. More impressive was the strength and forcefulness he portrayed. This was no soft-spoken gentle soul but a tortured and egotistic, often loud-mouthed hedonist.

This all did not lessen the growing feeling we had for the character, the caring what happened to him despite himself. Johnny brought out his torment and humanity with compelling clarity while never blunting the uglier parts of his character. Seeing his physical deterioration heightened the sense of his courageousness and ego in seeing him keep on going. He didn't try to hide any of it from those close to him.


HOUSE OF LORDS SPEECH:
Graham Greene's "Lord Rochester's Monkey" and Jeremy Lamb’s (who was thanked in the closing credits) “So Idle a Rogue” both quoted the real Wilmot's House of Lords speech. I thought I'd post it here both to show that the movie version was remarkably similar in many aspects. For the rest, it gives you a feeling of the power and manipulation of which he was capable even though desperately ill and in great pain. I can't possibly say enough about Johnny's delivery of this powerful speech. That's pretty much when I started crying in earnest. Remember, this is the real speech, not the movie version. The film version includes some self-deprecating humor at the start of the speech that is all Jeffreys but then follows the real speech closely. The entire scene was filmed in one continuous sequence.

As a scene setter: the House was debating whether to pass a bill outlawing the succession of Charles II's brother who was Catholic. It looked like the bill would be passed until Rochester entered. He carefully and skillfully set the stage to make it morally impossible to change the laws of succession while offering the puritan element an "out" by suggesting there could be a separate trial once the Duke of York succeeded to the throne. It was risky to even appear to support a Catholic in the England of the time. This was also Rochester's first public appearance after the Downs incident. He was still branded a coward by many.

"Mr. Speaker, Sir, although it hath been said that no good Protestant can speak against this Bill, yet, sir, I cannot forbear to offer some objections against it. I do not know that any of the King's murderers were condemned without being heard, and must we deal thus with the brother of our King? It is such a severe way of proceeding that I think we cannot answer it to the world, and therefore it would consist much better with the justice of the House to impeach him and try him in a formal way, and then cut off his head, if he deserve it. I will not offer to dispute the power of Parliaments, but I question whether this law, if made, would be good in itself. Some laws have a natural weakness with them; I think that by which the old Long Parliament carried on their rebellion was judged afterwards void in law, because there was a power given which could not be taken from the Crown. For ought I know, when you have made this law, it may have the same flaw in it. If not, I am confident there are a loyal party, which will never obey, but will think themselves bound by their Oath of Allegiance and Duty, to pay obedience to the Duke, if ever he should come to be King, which must occasion a civil war... Upon the whole matter, my humble motion is, that the Bill may be thrown out."

I think if I were to chose the best change in the final cut and the worst, I'd chose (remember, this is just my opinion):

Best: truncation of the death bed scene. The WiP was too focused on this and a shorter ending didn't reduce the shock and impact but allowed much better balance with the other elements of the story. (I do wish they'd left the tiny bit with his son in, though)

Worst: The Dr. Bendo scene. As it is left, it makes no sense, is jarring, doesn't tie in with the rest of the film. This was a serious miscalculation. I'd put the cut of the country trench scene close behind this in cuts that did damage to the story.

Cut I wish they had made: The walk in St. James’ Park is totally out of place in the final version. In the WiP version, snippets from that scene came back to Wilmot as flashbacks so the walk set the stage for that. Since those flashbacks were cut in the final version, the park scene is merely gratuitous and senseless to the story.

THE END!

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Last edited by FANtasticJD on Tue Dec 27, 2005 4:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:47 am

Many, many, thanks to FANtasticJD for sharing this with us! :bounce: She obviously spent many hours writing this comparison and we are so glad she has shared this labor of love with us! :bouquet:

For those of you that don't want to read it yet, (because you will!) remember that you can use the print icon at the top of the thread to print it out and read it after you see the film.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:52 am

thank you very much FAN for that, its very interesting and I enjoyed all your observations. As I have no opertunity to see the film on the big screen and will have to wait until the DVD, it has helped :thanks!:

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:55 am

I just printed it out, but dang that lovely collage wasn't there then. I think I need to print the first page out again. Thank you, FAN, for putting all the effort into this. :thanks!: I'm headed off to read it now.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:15 am

Okay, I can't get the full pages to print out. :banghead: I get like 3/4 of a page and it cuts off. What can I do about this? Any suggestions appreciated.

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:45 am

QofK, are you going to the print icon at the top of the page or just hitting print on your computer? If you just hit print on your computer, the right side is usually cut off.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby FANtasticJD » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:50 am

Liz wrote:QofK, are you going to the print icon at the top of the page or just hitting print on your computer? If you just hit print on your computer, the right side is usually cut off.

Liz, where is the print icon on JDZ? I'm sure it's right in front of my nose but I don't see it.

Thanks!

Never mind, I found it! Yup, right in front of me! :blush:
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:57 am

FAN, you did an amazing job on that report. :applause: :notworthy:

It was really interesting to read the differences. I have to say I agree with you on the Dr. Bendo scene. And I wish the Downs scene had been clearer also. I also would have liked to have seen the longer deathbed scene. And speaking of that scene, we will be discussing just that along with Burnet later this afternoon in the 2nd part of today's question.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:59 am

FANtasticJD wrote:
Liz wrote:QofK, are you going to the print icon at the top of the page or just hitting print on your computer? If you just hit print on your computer, the right side is usually cut off.

Liz, where is the print icon on JDZ? I'm sure it's right in front of my nose but I don't see it.

Thanks!

Never mind, I found it! Yup, right in front of me! :blush:


I had a hard time finding it myself at first.

Edit: And I should have been clearer for those others who don't see it -- It is to the right of the reply button under the subject heading of the thread.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:19 pm

Gosh! I've never noticed that before I usually copy and paste it into word :lol:

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Unread postby lumineuse » Fri Dec 16, 2005 2:07 pm

Thanks so much, FAN!!!! I've printed it out as well. Your efforts are much appreciated, as is your insight! :thanks!:
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Unread postby fansmom » Fri Dec 16, 2005 3:02 pm

Amazing! Your attention to detail is mindboggling. :cool: Thank you so much, FANtasticJD.


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