The Thing

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i just read anne billson's little bfi book abt this utterly terrific movie

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

john carpenter's i mean, not howard hawkses: new "you've got to be fucking kidding!!" answers

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

haha the biologist who goes crazy and builds a spaceship in a cave in the ice = called BLAIR do you SEE?

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"it's clobberin' time!"

jel --, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I wasn't entirely convinced by it.

i) how many Antartic research bases have flamethrowers and automatic weapons lying around?

ii) how come their base seems to have normal 24 hour days, despite being below the Antartic circle?

DV, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Sometime in 82 I went to the NFT to attend a John Carpenter/Guardian lecture. For some reason Carpenter had to drop out at the very last second, so instead he sent over a print of his just-completed new movie, 'the Thing'. It was an amazing experience to watch this film without any kind of prior knowledge - the incredible escalation of paranoia and isolation, plus Rob Bottin's mindblowing gore effects, which to my mind have never really been surpassed (so sad that CGI has now totally replaced the kind of mechanical effects that can be staged in front of a camera, in real time...)

The blood test scene is one of the greatest movie moments ever; terrific Morricone score (mostly electronic, IIRC, something of a rarity and an obv. trib to Carpenter); even Kurt Russell doing his Clint schtick was OK (I love the moment when he pours whiskey into his computer!) Plus a really sharp script by Burt Lancaster's son!

I used to really like Anne Bilson's film reviews in Time Out, although sadly her vampire nov was a bit rub. Still I think I'd like to read this too. What a great, great flick.

Andrew L, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

DV, Mac at the start of the film says "First week of winter" = presumably the seasons are just changing, hence the day is poised between 24 hours of light (midsummer) and 24 hours of dark (midwinter) => plausible

they need pistols and flamethrowers in case the norwegians invade (when amundsen landed in "scott"s sphere of operations" in 1911, there was serious if brief discussion of the possibility of invading the norwegian camp and disabling the amundsen exhibition = they had guns available, for stray polar bears?) (haha very stray: polar bears = arctic not anarctic) (and yeah, no flamethrowers) (but anyway don't the Carpenter lot soup up the flamethrower from some more ordinary oxy-acetylene torch gizmo?)

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

haha sorry DV i just realised how yr joke works

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

DVD commentary on the Thing is hilarious. Just get Russell and Carpenter together with some bouze and they will talk for hours.

The Thing is a masterful horror movie, which improves upon Hawks original by having a better monster (after all that giant carrot...) This body horror has never been bettered - the actual melting of people.....

Want to read this book. I want to read Quirke's Jaws book. I want to see more of these films with themed canapes and bouze afterwards.

Pete, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

haha sorry DV i just realised how yr joke works

ho ho, I didn't realise I was making a joke... I just can't stop being funny.

I agree with the points about mechanical rather than cgi effects. and there is a lot to like about the film.

it was slightly ruined for me by seeing it in a room with a load of sweaty horror fans, preceded by a documentary on Carpenter that had all the best bits in it. Which was annoying... I'd already heard about the "you gotta be fucking kidding" bit but had been at great pains not to spoil it for special friend Irene, and then the cockfarming documentary did it for me.

The Thing is still not as good as Assault On Precinct 13.

DV, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

DV's joke (version): "I found Night of the Living Dead unconvincing: no one wore shoes like that in 1968 in that part of America"

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

if you include when norris's thingified torso bites cooper's arms off *and* the blood tests, how many autopsies are there?

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Its this Thing.

Pete, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

the more i think abt it the bettah it is: among other things (hah!) it is an allegory of thread-life viz "us" vs the TROLL!! (who can mimic us by posting as us yet who if hangs round long enough just becomes one of us)

(the secret nagging question is: SO WHAT IF THE THING IMITATES US EXACTLY? If we are all turned into exact copies of ourselves, what has changed? "Go with the flow maan, resistance is futile... gooey tentacloid palps? bring em on!!")

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

i have to get this on DVD like NOW!! and watch it TONIGHT!!

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hawkses original is great too though and a brilliant comparison text (as is the original short story Who Goes There). It treats the scientist trying to communicate with the big carrot as a madman - it is fantastically hawkish to use the current definition of that word.

Arctic circle is a grebt place to set a vampire film btw.

Pete, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

haha he IS a madman he has a polo-neck sweater

i read the story when i was like 12 and it *really really* spooked me (the monster is described, apparently dead, in the first para, oh no!! it has THREE EYES!! OH NO!!): in the bit where they do the blood test, mcready is testing 35 ppl!! carpenter cuts it down to a slightly less pedantic four, i think

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

See also: Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom

Alan Trewartha, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

mark s that film is an absolute FUCKING BELTER - the only bit I find a bit naff is the fx where the Dr's arms are supposed to have been bitten off, it looks really cheap and destroys the mood totally for a second - though what follows right away certainly re-establishes it.
I've been meaning to watch it again to check whether the end really does have that clue in it about the black guy having been taken over by thingness -I've got the DVD but no sodding DVD player yet arrrrgh. Also, do you think there's a clue as to where Blair gets infected ? I thought I spotted it the 1st time I watched the film. And are there any feministy crits of the film - is it regarded as quite odd in that there are no women in it atall? (though it's all the more 'realistic' for that)

Ray M, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

anne billson talks abt all those things in her little book!! the stuntman whose arms are "bitten off" has no arms in real life!! (or anyway stumps)

the gender thing she says was probably the last possible moment they could cast the way they did: actually not strictly speaking "realistic" (antarctic stations had been mixed sex since the 50s), it was for emotional-narrative focus as much as anything

the question of blair's infection is interesting, because so deliberately left ambiguous i. on hand he jumps to the "it's a shapeshifting alien much too quickly", ii. on the other, he destroys the helicopters/radio etc, iii. on the third hand he misdirects mac towards clark (who ends up being shot and then turning out NOT to have been thinged) => billson points out that the unspoken question is, if you become a thing and it becomes you, how much of YOUR behaviour wd be a mask and how much wd be real...

i suspect childs's thing-dom is kept exactly as ambiguous (and remember someone finds a bit of mac's torn clothing: so he's not out of the picture, just cz he's the hero => yes he's behaving mac-like, but then the thing-that-became-mac WOULD, to fool the others or fool us!!)

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

on the THIRD HAND do you SEE?!

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

creepy (if poorly rendered) picture by gustav doré which possibly inspired the most famous scene in the movie:

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Definately Carpenter's best movie. And the gore effects were definitive; I still can't get some of those images out of my head.

Sean, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"i'd rather not spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!"

g-kit, Monday, 19 August 2002 08:45 (eighteen years ago) link

i have never seen this but i think i must. dvd 13 quid through amazon = i am v v tempted.

toby (tsg20), Monday, 19 August 2002 09:16 (eighteen years ago) link

I believe the dog is a bitch though.

Any other films with absolutely no women in at all. Actually - nu thread...

Pete, Monday, 19 August 2002 09:20 (eighteen years ago) link

mark s I have just ordered that book from Amazon - but have just realised that since you recommended it I probably won't understand it.

Ray M (rdmanston), Thursday, 22 August 2002 17:22 (eighteen years ago) link

it is very readable ray

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 22 August 2002 22:29 (eighteen years ago) link

I recently read the book in this series on Kon Ichikawa's An Actor's Revenge, and it was very good. Too short by a long way, and it rather skimmed some aspects of the film, but not at all difficult.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Friday, 23 August 2002 10:53 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
the faculty!! when i saw this first (i cannot believe that) i did not twig it was an industrial-strength thing-hommage: it even has a "you gotta be fkn kidding" joke (sadly not a very good one) (the "fit in at school: become a hive-mind alien" joke is better sustained, including a even bleaker and more sardonic ending than "the thing" itself = the alien is defeated and all the interesting ppl who battled it have become squeaky-clean conformist pod ppl...)

(also it stars frodo)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:11 (eighteen years ago) link

Yummy cute goth girl put that eyeliner back on!

Graham (graham), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:22 (eighteen years ago) link

I thought this was going to be a thread about DA THANG

vic (vicc13), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:23 (eighteen years ago) link

and then they DON'T lez up = it is intended to be read a tragedy!!

(the caffeine (= coke obv) scene = brilliant loving parody of the scalpel/test-tubes scene)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:25 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh you are talking baout that movie with Jordana Brewster?! I like it, even though it has Josh Hartnett on it

vic (vicc13), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:32 (eighteen years ago) link

the gothgirl is cute but the end-result monster is lame

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:35 (eighteen years ago) link

Who is the goth gurl. I know its not Jordana OH i remembered is the gurl that ALWAYS plays goths. Jordana kiks her ass

vic (vicc13), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:41 (eighteen years ago) link

clea duvall:

jordana = cookiecutter brunette "looker" zzzzz

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 8 September 2002 21:46 (eighteen years ago) link


Hott brasilian-american with wonderful hair

and goth poseur(real goths have black hair)

Chupa-Cabras (vicc13), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:02 (eighteen years ago) link

clea was good in but im a cheerleader

boxcubed (boxcubed), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:03 (eighteen years ago) link


(Actually I only like her cos she reminds me of dreamy skate-punk princess Lois, who has way better hair)

Graham (graham), Sunday, 8 September 2002 22:49 (eighteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Getting back to The Thing, there's an Antarctic blog called Big Dead Place that has a fun Antarctic-biased review of it

Chris Barrus (xibalba), Monday, 24 February 2003 23:53 (seventeen years ago) link

ten months pass...
is this another of those "i watched the movie having read a long-ago thread on it then went back and looked at the thread and all these k-brill concepts i imagined were in the thread as i watched the move really were my own... OR WERE THEY?" moments? (I had a massive one with the Pullman series)

coz ok i just watched the movie and then "remembered" this whole mark s bit where he's totally sympathizing with the "thing" and spins this great hypothesis about how mcready is clearly "thing" but has decided by the strength of his will to be human that it doesn't matter. and also about how the "thing" is always in us, and in fact is our mutual fear and at the end, reduced to panic, everyone is reduced to "fire cleans all" which is as unscientific as you can get (and clearly the surface-opposition is science v. grotesque).

also about how blair ceases to panic and becomes "okay" when he reaches the same conclusion w/r/t the "thing" -- i.e. that it doesn't matter.

all of which i guess is part of the "so what if the thing imitates us exactly" except it's also all the BAD things the thing does are entirely human. except the thing gets to make k-cool spaceships too!

i may also have read all this elsewhere.

okay I need to read the book and see "the faculty" now.

also the initial scene with the thing and the dogs is totally horrifying as is the arms-getting-chomped scene, and the way the narrative closure with the two burned stations kicks this whole "statement of human nature" thing into high-gear.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 06:21 (sixteen years ago) link

all my best work = completely in other people's hedz

(if true, this is the coolest thing evah btw) (best aspect: it can be totally real and totally unproveable simultaneously)

mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 14:51 (sixteen years ago) link

You can make this help you vis a vis If...the book: find a head, open it up and scoop out contents, put CPU of your computah in the hole and you will bne

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 16:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm sad because Jel stole by joke.

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 17:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Its this thing.

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 17:45 (sixteen years ago) link

(I hab a code.)

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 17:46 (sixteen years ago) link

okay check this too -- thing only strikes between individuals, not in a group, so v. v. obv that which lurks behind the veneer of social convention and perfect candidate for Lacanian reading w/r/t "there is no big Other" i.e. that the rules of interaction of the crew are a necessary fiction, reinforced when everyone thinks mcready is the thing but follow him anyway. hence the basis of their downfall is their exile of blair -- safer to stay close to the thing than let it lurk.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 17:53 (sixteen years ago) link

"also about how blair ceases to panic and becomes "okay" when he reaches the same conclusion w/r/t the "thing" -- i.e. that it doesn't matter"

I thought that Blair WAS a "thing" by that point, that it had assimilated him just before he could hang himself (a noose in the background, isn't there?). But according to this, realising a lack of difference between the thing and the not-thing = becoming the thing-in-itself?

Neil Willett (Neil Willett), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 20:13 (sixteen years ago) link

I saw "The Thing" again recently. Popular art-rockers ESTEL were using it as visuals to a concert of theirs. I was sitting beside a guy who had never seen it before, and his "HOLY FUCK" reaction to the "You've got to be fucking kidding" bit was a joy to behold.

so maybe I do like this film after all.

DV (dirtyvicar), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 23:21 (sixteen years ago) link

"Was wondering when El Capitan was gonna get a chance to use his pop gun."

RIP, will rescreen this weekend.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 22 December 2018 05:39 (one year ago) link

(also, realizing Childs was Cameron Diaz' stepfather in There's Something About Mary is kinda jarring in retrospect.)

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 22 December 2018 05:41 (one year ago) link

okay rescreened last night... Garry delivers one of the best lines in the film:

"I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!"

Still so classic. Kinda forget how great the exterior shots are on this. Also, need to track down the Director's Commentary again.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 24 December 2018 18:06 (one year ago) link

To me, great as it is, that's not even Moffat's best line in the movie. I love the way he says, "I know Bennings. I've known him for ten years. He's my friend."

grawlix (unperson), Monday, 24 December 2018 18:12 (one year ago) link

I recently read that he came up with that line as an ad-lib, he wanted to add more to make the scene and the incident more personal.

Moffat was great in everything, I wish I'd seen him on stage since apparently he was really something as a theater actor. And he made for a fine, absurd, satirical version of LBJ in The Right Stuff (hardly historically accurate but funny) and a perfectly smarmy and duplicitous president in Clear and Present Danger.

omar little, Monday, 24 December 2018 20:13 (one year ago) link

Whoa - didn’t know that was him as LBJ.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 24 December 2018 23:28 (one year ago) link

Omar, thanks for that background on the movie!

Groove(box) Denied (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 25 December 2018 00:24 (one year ago) link

you're welcome and hey, merry christmas

omar little, Tuesday, 25 December 2018 01:44 (one year ago) link


Okay, I made the mistake of re-screening the prequel/reboot which starts off nice enough, subtly controlled pacing and enough nods and believable plot mechanics until the 3rd act which is complete garbage. The final boss is such a CGI embarrassment I can't even believe this was made by a major studio, basically lacking in everything that makes the original film a classic. Woof!

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 28 December 2018 19:59 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

Took a chance on a cheap 2016 DVD of Carpenter's but it's the same as the ropey 1999 one I already had. Not even full screen without stretching the aspect ratio. Does one have to go Blu-Ray for a more up to date transfer?

Invisible (Noel Emits), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:59 (one year ago) link

I watched this with my daughter the other week. She liked it, but probably because she is so used to gross effects and body horror in things like Stranger Things the gore stuff didn't do much for her. Though like everybody else she found the thumb slicing scene most disturbing out of everything, and the blood test scene got a jump out of her.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 17:06 (one year ago) link

how old is she?

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:04 (one year ago) link


Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:16 (one year ago) link

there's nothing remotely as disturbing as the thing in stranger things but ymmv as i am a 35 year old man who is still mortified by some of the scenes in the thing and find it legitimately hard to watch

VAR me to the end of yawn (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:18 (one year ago) link

Kids today will have inevitably seen worse on network tv and YouTube.

Sly Bradbury's The Marion Cobretti-cles (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:21 (one year ago) link

there's worse in the white house

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:24 (one year ago) link

i suppose i just find the stuff in the thing very unheimlich which to me is worse than "gory" or violent or whatever. like i'll watch the red wedding on repeat for an hour before i'd watch one creepy scene from this movie

VAR me to the end of yawn (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:25 (one year ago) link

i'll watch the red wedding on repeat for an hour

That's pretty creepy.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 19:12 (one year ago) link

banging tune tho

mark s, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 19:13 (one year ago) link

Had a "The Thing v Stranger Things" discussion with my GF the other day, trying to figure out if she would find The Thing too gross or scary. She is intrigued by The Thing based on my assertion that its the movie that scares me the most, but is worried it will be too gory or gross for her.
She is squeamish abt horror movies bc of gore, but also watches the shit out of stuff like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Handmaids Tale, all of which feature what seem to me like extremely gory violence & gross monsters, disturbing deaths, etc. But there seems to be something abt the way that stuff reads as 'TV' to her that makes it not register in the same way as it does when she's watching something that she understands to be A Horror Movie.

One Eye Open, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 20:19 (one year ago) link

Weirdly, I've never thought of The Thing as particularly gory, aside from maybe the defibrillator scene. At this point, anyone familiar with the extremes of cable entertainment should be able to handle it on that level. The general body horror might be another story. I could see the kennel scene in particular being a bit too much for the uninitiated.

Sly Bradbury's The Marion Cobretti-cles (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 21:52 (one year ago) link

the worst moment in the film is when mac is putting a current thru the blood and the wire scrapes and squeaks on the glass

mark s, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 21:58 (one year ago) link

to me The Thing is so over the top with the gore that the first time i saw it i was just amazed by creature and its various guises and attacks that i couldn't even be disgusted. i've never found it especially frightening either for whatever reason, though objectively i recognize why it's completely terrifying and grisly.

omar little, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:08 (one year ago) link

It's definitely one of the few movies with multiple characters scooping out innards from a carcass all while gagging and groaning and going yuck and covering their nose.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:14 (one year ago) link

i'm the one who strips the turkey on thanksgiving and i feel like i'm always channeling Blair when i do it.

omar little, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:16 (one year ago) link

"This for instance, that's not dog."

omar little, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:17 (one year ago) link


Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:19 (one year ago) link

the shout factory bluray btw is extremely good, worth the extra cost imo.

omar little, Thursday, 27 June 2019 01:32 (one year ago) link

I just bought the Arrow (UK) blu and the transfer is excellent (as are the extras):

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 27 June 2019 03:06 (one year ago) link

mark s hugely OTM

One Eye Open, Thursday, 27 June 2019 03:13 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

John Carpenter’s The Thing, as performed by the claymated, Antarctic cast of the hit children’s animation Pingu.

— Ally 👽 (@A_llyssa) July 8, 2019

This is genuinely amazing.

Isnt that from several years ago

Οὖτις, Sunday, 14 July 2019 03:00 (one year ago) link

yes, it says as much in the opening frame

Number None, Sunday, 14 July 2019 05:23 (one year ago) link

Indeed, i just had never seen it before

nor I, and it was great

quelle sprocket damage (sic), Sunday, 14 July 2019 08:39 (one year ago) link


omar little, Sunday, 14 July 2019 13:52 (one year ago) link

Am afraid to watch.

Ask Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 14 July 2019 13:53 (one year ago) link

The Thingu.

Sassy Boutonnière (ledriver), Monday, 15 July 2019 00:56 (one year ago) link

The Real Thingu.

Ask Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 15 July 2019 10:55 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Cast party on the set of John Carpenter's The Thing

— Eyes On Cinema (@RealEOC) August 2, 2019

mark s, Sunday, 4 August 2019 11:16 (one year ago) link

keith david is such a fuckin’ delight

Criss Angel Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 4 August 2019 11:22 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Nobody... nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired.

— r.j macready (@thething_txt) November 21, 2019

mark s, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:16 (one year ago) link

John Carpenter’s The Thing

— 41 Strange (@41Strange) November 19, 2019

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:18 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

Brad C., Saturday, 1 February 2020 16:07 (nine months ago) link

There's a storm hitting us in six hours, and we're gonna find out who's who.

— r.j macready (@thething_txt) February 1, 2020

mark s, Saturday, 1 February 2020 16:09 (nine months ago) link


the main character Cooly and his fart attack (bizarro gazzara), Saturday, 1 February 2020 19:15 (nine months ago) link

John Carpenter? Eh. Phil Harris had the original version.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 1 February 2020 19:31 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

— Mike (@mcgee_gorgo) March 12, 2020

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 12 March 2020 23:44 (eight months ago) link

Lol surely he knew he was setting that up

Psychedics with Rosie Swash (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 12 March 2020 23:50 (eight months ago) link

two months pass...

They needed a poster for #JohnCarpenter’s #TheThing in a hurry. So I conceived it, painted it, and my art was delivered to the studio all within 24 hrs. In fact, when they put it under the glass to photograph it, the paint stuck to the glass because the thing was still wet!

— Drew Struzan (@DrewStruzan) May 27, 2020

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 28 May 2020 02:46 (five months ago) link

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