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drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #105 on: April 30, 2014, 05:26:38 PM »

But the idea is still that not only the ending is a dream, but the whole 1968 time level?

of course. (on whatever level the dream exists,) it begins the moment Noodles inhales the opium, goes to sleep, and begins dreaming and smiling. So starting with the moment he is woken up to flee the opium den cuz the hitmen are after him, everything is a dream

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« Reply #106 on: May 01, 2014, 03:04:44 AM »

Ok, but that still doesn't work for me for one second. And if I have for the 30s car at the end a realistic explanation (like rich guys driving to a costume party) or not, it doesn't change that a wee bit.

Of course the ending remains ambigious, but it is far away from being a dream or part of a dream. The point is that Noodles is not able to accept the reality of being fooled for 35 years, that he lived half of his life with a false guilt. So he leaves Max without accepting that he is Max, and then the reality begins to blur, the up to this point realistic feeling film gets a slight, but only slight surrealistic feeling, and we don't know exactly what has happened after he leaves the Bailey mansion. The garbage truck is strange, but we don't know for sure if Max has really killed himself in it, cause when Noodles looks into it we see not the slightest trace of blood, or any other hint that he really might have jumped into the garbage rotors. When Noodles looks at the disappearing lights of the truck, these lights transform into the lights of the 30 car, so for me this is a vision, a glimpse at the past, with which which the film expresses Noodles denying of the present reality and his desire to go back in that past. But Leone does not go back to the point where Noodles was at ease with himself, but at the point when he tries to escape reality and guilt. The pagoda could then be a visual link in the background which prepares for the last shot, for which Leone cuts into the opium den of the beginning. Noodles is happy, but it is only a lie. An appropriate ending for one who was always expiating for his friend. Only at the end, when he chooses Bailey over Max, he chooses for himself a lie which is at least his own lie.

To think that nearly half of the film, which is directed in the same style as the other half, should be a dream only because there are a few absurd moments and a last shot of an opiated Noodles is pretty absurd imo. If Leone wanted the 1968 time level to be a dream he must have directed it more dreamlike, more different from the rest of the film. But even then it would have broken the spine of the film's structure. I can see the tempting possibilities of directing the film as a dream, but I also see enough reasons to skip this idea, cause then it must have become a very different film.

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« Reply #107 on: May 01, 2014, 07:11:50 AM »

@ stanton: so you believe that (on whatever level the dream exists), the dream only begins after Noodles leaves Bailey's mansion.... IMO that is even more absurd than completely denying the possibility of a dream. The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie. Everything that chronologically follows the smile. (BTW, it can even perhaps be said that the ENTIRE film is a dream; that while in his opium haze, Noodles has both rememberances of his past and visions of the future; therefore, the opium den is truly a framing device for the ENTIRE movie. But I don't think it's necessary to say that.) The key moment for Noodles is that betrayal of his friends; he can't bear that thought, and therefore goes to the opium den and everything afterward is a dream. If you say that makes no sense cuz there is little visual/directorial difference between the pre-opium scenes and post-opium scenes, then you can say the same thing about the pre-garbage truck scenes and the post garbage truck scenes.... (btw, Leone spoke about how once Noodles enters that opium den, he is dead, morally dead)... Now his reaction is to get high and dream an alternative reality... The 1968 scenes do not exist in The Hoods; the book ends with Noodles fleeing New York after betraying his friends. Leone first had the idea of adding the 1968 portion to the film - of the aging gangster returning to his old neeighborhood - after meeting with the real Noodles, Harry Grey. (Frayling discussees this at length in the OUATIA chapter of STDWD.) Leone believed Grey was inhabiting a fantasy world - that, with the exception of the childhood chapters, his book had subconsciously ripped off every gangster film cliche and scenario imaginable; Grey was a man who had ceased to be able to tell reality from fantasy, they were all one for him, he was living in a dream/fantasy world. (ctd. Next post)

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« Reply #108 on: May 01, 2014, 07:28:31 AM »

(ctd. From previous post)
This gave Leone the idea of adding a dreamlike section to the film of the againg gangster trying to make sense of his past, trying to deal with his past, living in a fantasy world.

Plus, this was Leone's homage to the American Gangster Film (just like OUATITW was his homage to the American Western film). A homage to "a certain cinema" that he grew up on, that was his dream; the dream of cinema, as discussed, Leone said to Scorsese that movie should have been called Once There Was a Certain Cinema.
(and please don't be dumb enough to ask why Leone then didn't make OUATITW as a dream, too. It was a dream in a different sense - you don't sell the dream of a lifetime Wink ) ..... "ONCE UPON A TIME" - a fantasy.
 Plus there is the American Dream - the point of the God Bless America song that plays at beginning and end of the movie - Leone himself (like the gangsters in this movie) had a sort of shattered American Dream, how his childhood vision of a great America was somewhat shattered when he saw the American GI's for the first time...

Anyway, if you read Leone's statements about what he intended - and if Leone's intent means anything to you - all the scenes that follow Noodles's visit to the opium den are, on some level, a dream.

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« Reply #109 on: May 01, 2014, 07:33:18 AM »

@ stanton: so you believe that (on whatever level the dream exists), the dream only begins after Noodles leaves Bailey's mansion....
No, I don't think that is a dream either, and haven't written that above. There is a probable shift in reality, or better a moment when reality and a visionary moment began to melt, but if so, this all happens on the 1968 time level, and have nothing to do with the last scene. Only that it builds a bridge to the last scene.

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The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie.

I don't see any reason why this should be so necessarily. It's a possibility, but not a convincing one. A better possibility to explain the end was already explained by me above. It is also a more intelligent and complex one than this dream thing.
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Everything that chronologically follows the smile. (BTW, it can even perhaps be said that the ENTIRE film is a dream; that while in his opium haze, Noodles has both rememberances of his past and visions of the future; therefore, the opium den is truly a framing device for the ENTIRE movie. But I don't think it's necessary to say that.) The key moment for Noodles is that betrayal of his friends; he can't bear that thought, and therefore goes to the opium den and everything afterward is a dream. If you say that makes no sense cuz there is little visual/directorial difference between the pre-opium scenes and post-opium scenes, then you can say the same thing about the pre-garbage truck scenes and the post garbage truck scenes.... (btw, Leone spoke about how once Noodles enters that opium den, he is dead, morally dead)... Now his reaction is to get high and dream an alternative reality... The 1968 scenes do not exist in The Hoods; the book ends with Noodles fleeing New York after betraying his friends. Leone first had the idea of adding the 1968 portion to the film - of the aging gangster returning to his old neeighborhood - after meeting with the real Noodles, Harry Grey. (Frayling discussees this at length in the OUATIA chapter of STDWD.) Leone believed Grey was inhabiting a fantasy world - that, with the exception of the childhood chapters, his book had subconsciously ripped off every gangster film cliche and scenario imaginable; Grey was a man who had ceased to be able to tell reality from fantasy, they were all one for him, he was living in a dream/fantasy world. (ctd. Next post)

All this has nothing to do with my interpretation of the end.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 08:48:57 AM by stanton » Logged

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« Reply #110 on: May 01, 2014, 07:36:27 AM »

(ctd. From previous post)
This gave Leone the idea of adding a dreamlike section to the film of the againg gangster trying to make sense of his past, trying to deal with his past, living in a fantasy world.

Plus, this was Leone's homage to the American Gangster Film (just like OUATITW was his homage to the American Western film). A homage to "a certain cinema" that he grew up on, that was his dream; the dream of cinema, as discussed, Leone said to Scorsese that movie should have been called Once There Was a Certain Cinema.
(and please don't be dumb enough to ask why Leone then didn't make OUATITW as a dream, too. It was a dream in a different sense - you don't sell the dream of a lifetime Wink ) ..... "ONCE UPON A TIME" - a fantasy.
 Plus there is the American Dream - the point of the God Bless America song that plays at beginning and end of the movie - Leone himself (like the gangsters in this movie) had a sort of shattered American Dream, how his childhood vision of a great America was somewhat shattered when he saw the American GI's for the first time...

Anyway, if you read Leone's statements about what he intended - and if Leone's intent means anything to you - all the scenes that follow Noodles's visit to the opium den are, on some level, a dream.

Not in the actual film.

How comes that I watched the film several times without ever assuming that it could be a dream. Also I don't remember anyone writing about the film for 20 years and calling it a dream. If Leone wanted that to be a dream, he totally failed.

And then, again, why should of all Leone films just the least dreamlike one being the one of which large parts should be an actual dream? I understand what Leone says when he calls his films dreams, dreams of a genre, but also for that, OUTA is the least Leone film which feels like a genre dream.
Terms like "dreaming of a genre" or "the American dream" are very, very different from turning an actual film into a dream. Watch Mulholland Drive, there you have a brilliant film in which large parts of the film could be, or must be interpreted as wishful thinking, and above all it serves the film.

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« Reply #111 on: May 01, 2014, 10:33:53 AM »

According to what Kaminsky said in that piece in Once Upon a Time Sergio Leone, it seems he just received the story or scenario, and he wrote the English dialogue for it. In that case, he really should have been one of the credited screenwriters, as opposed to merely receiving a credit for "Additional Dialogue."

Did Kaminsky ever say anything about resenting the way he was credited? From what I have seen, Kaminsky had only positive things to say about his experience with Leone (which would make him an exception among Leone's collaborators; Sergio Donati terribly resented the way Leone treated him, including his not receiving any credit for his work on GBU. I think almost all of Leone's writers and some other collaborators ended up having a falling out with him over one thing or another, except the OUATIA collaborators; I never read a bad word from any of them about him.)

A viewer could easily be misled if watching Kaminsky's interview in the documentary in isolation.  Kaminky said that Leone handed him a script with no dialogue and nothing filled in on the right hand side and asked him to fill it in.  What Kaminsky doesn't explain clearly is that he took the script away, filled in the dialogue/right hand side, took it back later to Leone and Leone rejected it.  It's clear from Leone's comments and Kaminsky in his own book that the Italian writers wrote all the dialogue, an interpreter translated it into rough English and Kaminsky's job was to smooth out the wrinkles in the translation and make it more acceptable.

"Additional dialogue" may in fact overstate it, bearing in mind Leone's 1984 comment "He added nothing; he simply adapted faithfully and freely certain things which seemed too translated."

I've not seen anything which indicates that Kaminsky was in any way resentful of the way his contribution was described, it fits with the details in Kaminsky's own book, and it's also confirmed by Leo Benvenuti and Luca Morsella.

Personally I think that Leone's disagreements with some of the people he worked with were detrimental to his later work.  One example was Mickey Knox who never got over the disagreements they had.  Knox was a Jew, spoke fluent Italian, acted in gangster films such as White Heat etc., knew gangsters and the milieu and had a proven track record in translating and writing dialogue.  Then there's Clint Eastwood...

  

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« Reply #112 on: May 02, 2014, 06:05:55 AM »

The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie. Everything that chronologically follows the smile.
I don't see it as a framing device. I'm not locked into the notion that everything on the screen contributes to the story. At the end, Leone goes back and abstracts a detail of the film that has already happened, its function in the story already fulfilled. The final sequence in the film is commentary, not narrative.

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« Reply #113 on: May 02, 2014, 12:08:00 PM »

I view it also as a commentary.

And if used as a framing device the film must have opened also with the opium den, but it doesn't.

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« Reply #114 on: May 02, 2014, 12:25:24 PM »

If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

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« Reply #115 on: May 03, 2014, 01:53:37 AM »

If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

But at least with the garbage truck scene there's no debate on Leone's motives or intentions.  He deliberately wanted the disappearance of Max (or somebody who looked like him) to be ambiguous and to have parallels with the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which is still unexplained today.  And of course Jimmy's disappearance actually happened, it wasn't imagined or part of a dream.

  

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« Reply #116 on: May 03, 2014, 05:23:51 AM »

If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

Like Chris said, we don't know what happened, we don't know that he killed himself in that scene, or like in the screenplay that some 2 other guys killed him and throw him in the truck.

And if he killed himself, why not accepting this in a film in which a fortune is hidden in a railway station locker and a gangster becomes a politician. In movies things like that are not a real problem when it serves the story or makes some great visuals. Not to mention other things which are hard to believe compared to the "real" life.

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« Reply #117 on: May 03, 2014, 08:26:22 AM »

Remember, Max had already staged his "death" to start a fresh life once, maybe he did that again.


Leone seemed fascinated by such, like the end of My Name is Nobody.

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« Reply #118 on: May 04, 2014, 02:32:22 AM »

But at least with the garbage truck scene there's no debate on Leone's motives or intentions.  He deliberately wanted the disappearance of Max (or somebody who looked like him) to be ambiguous and to have parallels with the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which is still unexplained today.  And of course Jimmy's disappearance actually happened, it wasn't imagined or part of a dream.

  

Yes, Jimmy Hoffa was a real person who really disappeared. Does that mean you can't have a movie with a character partially based on him that is operating as a dream? And needless to say, while one of the theories about Hoffa's death is that he died in a garbage truck, nobody says he jumped in there intentionally. Which leaves my original question: if the movie is completely literal, there is no goddamnmotherfuckingwayinhell that a man that owns a gun and wants to commit suicide would choose to die in a garbage truck. So, you say, Leone wanted to preserve the ambiguity? Well, if this is all literal, what's the point of preserving the ambiguity about whether Max really died? Remember, if this is a dream, at least part of the point is that Noodles is trying to deal with this betrayal of his friends, and he is smoking opium and dreaming about the future as a way of dealing with it, and fantasizing about the future, and about an alternate reality: maybe he really wasn't the betrayer after all; maybe he was actually the betrayed! So, there's a dream-like ambiguity in dreams, you are never certain of anything about what happened to Max. But, if this is all a literal story, it's really just a straight-up mystery. "So you thought Max was betrayed and dead? Haha, you're wrong, we fooled you; he's the betrayer and alive."  Roll Eyes Big deal. I mentioned previously that you don't lose any of the themes of the movie if it's a dream. In fact, I think you gain more. A literal mystery is superficial, the themes of this movie are so much deeper. Take one example: TIME. In a dream, there is no time. Time is manipulated. In a plain mystery, you have the references to Time (like the pocket watch the boys steal from the drunk) but it's so much more effective in a dream world.
And btw, in the restored scenes, the movie is even more of a mystery (e.g. mysterious car following elderly Noodles; mystery in cemetery, etc.) again, IMO a straight-up mystery is much less effective in presenting the themes of the movie if the story is happening literally.




BTW, RE: the garbage truck scene: it is true that Leone wanted the disappearance to be somewhat mysterious; they used a body double for Woods for that scene, it's not Woods himself, to add to the ambiguity. BTW, on pp. 457-458 of STDWD, Frayling says, RE: the filming of that scene: "James Woods had overrun his contract and returned to America, and Sergio Leone needed a figure in a dinner jacket. Even before Woods left, Leone had told the actor, 'I want it to be sort of you, but not you.' " Frayling goes on to describe how Claudio Mancini suggested that, during a break in the filming, they try to find a body double. "Leone was far from convinced; this was stretching the ambiguity. But Luca Morsella managed to track down a man who had once doubled for Gregory Peck, and whose physique was fortuitously similar to that of Woods..."


HOWEVER, Woods himself says at 9:38 of this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd0IlhYRS6I that he was indeed on the set when this scene was filmed, but Leone used a photo double cuz he "wanted it to be a little confusing whether it was me or not, and he said, 'It's like Jimmy Hoffa: We know, but we don't know... but we know."


-----

all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations for some of these problems (why the final smile? why the 1930's cars in 1968? why the pagoda? etc.) but at a certain point, when you have to explain away one problem after another, it makes so much more sense to go with the dream interpretation; everything falls into place, and you don't have to explain away all these problems. (Please, I don't wanna hear about the color TV  Wink )

---



IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, or if you think he failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your opinion. But it's an absolute fact that Leone intended in some way, on some level, with some double-meaning/ambiguity to have this as a dream. So, for me, if Leone intended it as a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense as a possible dream - even more sense than the literal interpretation - then I am more than happy to go with the interpretation that the movie is operating on some level as a dream  Smiley

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« Reply #119 on: May 04, 2014, 03:36:40 AM »


all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations, and they may make sense for one or two of the problems, but the dream interpretation explains these things much more easily and clearly, and IMO correctly. For example, why the final smile? Why the pagoda? Why the 1930's cars in 1968? Why would a man kill himself in a garbage truck if he has a gun? Yes, the anti-dream people have tried to say, "It was a costume party, the garbage truck allows Max to possibly disappear again, the pagoda is a reference to this or that, etc etc etc." but IMO it's just way too much that you have to try to explain away, the dream interpretation explains these things much more clearly and satisfactorily. I think what bothers you anti-dreamers is that you feel that if you support the dream interpretation, then it's like the whole thing never happened. "And then I woke up --- haha, I fooled you, it never happened." But that's not the case: all the themes and ideas of the movie remain just as strong - heck, they may even be strengthened - with the dream interpretation.

Drink, you should closer read what I write.

I don't have exact explanations for the ending, quite the contrary I think these things are not really real, or must not be viewed as real. Still I don't view them as a dream, and especially not as part of a bigger dream which embraces half of the film. Still it does not explain why apart from the ending the whole 1968 time level never feels like a dream. If you say that 1968 is a complete dream, well then you have much more to explain than those who think that the ending is absolutely real. Then you should better explain why everything before feels as "real" as the rest of the film.

And to say it again, for me the ending feels not real, but also not as a dream. More like a vision which melts reality with surreal moments. It's an unusual ending for a film, and it works because it this only at the end.

You only interpret it as a dream because of a few min at the end, and that's not enough for me. And for these few min you can find easily a literal meaning, but even more important I must not have a literal explanation and still I'm able not to support the dream theory. It can be unreal without being part of dream. Ans that's what I already wrote several times.



Quote

IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

I haven't said that it was never mentioned (read me closer), only that I can't remember any mentioning. Big, big difference. That means, it was possibly mentioned here and there, but it never became part of the main interpretation of the film. While when you talk about e.g. Mulholland Drive you can't do this without talking about the narrative break in the film. But you can write about OUTA without ever talking about that dream thing.
Also I never denied the possibility of it being a dream or an opium hallucination. But I view it only as a vague possibility which is not carried enough by the actual film. Regardless of Leone's intentions before shooting the film, the above quote by Leone (" ... maybe, just maybe ... ") also only refers to its vagueness.

Quote
So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you agree that Leone intended to have this as a possible ambiguous dream but failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you think the movie makes more sense as a strictly literal film, and therefore prefer to think of it that way regardless of Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. But if you say that the whole dream theory was made up by some people years later and that there was no intent on the part of Leone to have this as a dream in any way, well in that case you are flat-out wrong. (I don't want to slay any straw men; I'm not saying anyone here is arguing that. I don't know if they are. All I am saying is that) IMO, if Leone says the movie is supposed to be a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense to me to view the movie the way Leone intended it - in fact, it makes much MORE sense to me that way - then yeah, I'll view it that way. Theoretically, if I didn't like the dream interpretation but believed Leone intended it to be a dream, then how would I feel about it? Would I go with Leone's interpretation over my own which I preferred? I have no idea, because that never happened to me. I see no reason not to go along with Leone's intention here - in fact, I see every reason to indeed go along with it, so I do.


Of course I do care for Leone's intents, but generally spoken I must not care about them. We discussed this before, and imo I can interpret a film against the intentions of the director, and then my view of the film (if reasonable) is as "right" as that of its maker. There can be more than one "truth" exist about one film. But I'm sure you won't understand this now, as you did not in the past.
Let's view the "intention" thing the other way round, must we now first check the director's intentions before we watch a film? And what if the director talks bullshit or tells lies about his intentions? Do we still follow his "intentions"? How do we know that we can trust him? Why should we don't believe what we think we see in a film. From that point of view it is indeed less important what a director, a critic or god says about a film, but it is instead important what I think about a film. Even if I'm maybe sometimes completely wrong.

The point about OUTA is, as far as I experienced it, most people watch OUTA without thinking that it all or greater parts of it were a dream. It is a possibility, yes, but not a sure one, not a necessary one.


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