Twenty years after his death, River Phoenix is making what might be the biggest career comeback ever with the completion of the film he died just ten days before completing. According to a report by Reuters on Feb. 14, the 1993 film has been finished using voiceovers.
Director George Sluizer rescued the footage when he learned the company which had insured the film was about to destroy it in 1999. He flew from the Netherlands to Los Angeles to retrieve it.
In 2007, Sluizer suffered a serious illness and decided it was now or never for the film. He discovered that nearly 25% of the footage was missing and the sound did not match well with what he did have. In order to make something coherent to viewers, he adjusted the script and used voiceovers to explain the gaps in the footage with surprising results.
Additional reels have been found in London and it is not known if those will be added to the current film. The film has no release date as of yet as the company that owns the right to the film is still in negotiations with Sluizer. River’s family has given their blessings to its release.
Phoenix was one of the most promising young actors of his day. He died of a suspected drug overdose when he was just 23. Another star of the film, Jonathon Pryce, has said he never saw River use drugs or appear to be under their influence. According to Pryce, River was “a remarkable young man." He went on to say "I can't believe now looking back that he was only 23 at the time, a kind of old head on young shoulders. He was absolutely delightful and wonderful to work with.”
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