This year, the movie with the highest per-screen average so far is Everything Everywhere All At Once. This crowd-pleasing hit is so expansive and wondrous it all couldn't fit on just the screen, so Daniels and A24 released A Vast, Pointless Gyration of Radioactive Rocks and Gas in Which You Happen to Occur, a companion book with stills and text that is available from the A24 merch store.
The book digs deep into Daniels' process, some extended universes, and even a scene that was shot that never made it into the final movie. Plus there's art, an essay by Carl Sagan's daughter, and a bunch more cool things.
The book tells us that an earlier scene in the movie introduced the family through a narrator, who then jumped into this voiceover:
“Here we are, in this moment, at the beginning. And because most beginnings are also often endings, it would be wrong for me not to point out that we are also here, at the end. And because every moment would not be possible without the moment before it and is rendered unnecessary without the moment after it, we could say that the existence of everything that has happened and will happen hangs on the existence of this one moment. This is it. This is everything. Let us begin.”
From there, we meet a person named W.T. Warren. They're a football-helmet tester in 1912. Warren's job is to run into a farmhouse wall with helmets on, seeing if they work. There's a "quantum accident" where he passes through the wall and is convinced it is a miracle. He continues trying to perform miracles until he happens upon some robbers who stab him. In a few of the extended universes, the knife goes through and he survives to marry his soulmate, who was present at the time. In other universes, he dies.
This is all explained by a narrator, who says, “And if you think all of this feels like a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works, then I’m afraid your opinion of infinity, my friend, may be too small for this story."
Obviously, that is a setup to explain the multiverse. It feels almost like the opening to PTA's Magnolia as well. The opening of the movie then shifts to a football player who has this huge catch to make. If he grabs it, he becomes a cult leader. But if he whiffs, he becomes a sad carpenter who only finds happiness in universes where tables can talk.
While these are fun scenes, Daniels felt like they completely took away from their main character Evelyn and her family. Since the movie is about Evelyn's journey, it's really important to stick with them. Daniel Scheinert says, "I don’t think it was ever in a draft we sent to anyone. It was like, draft zero-point-eight. Before we sent [the script] to any producers, we cut [this sequence], because the script was 255 pages long.”
It would have been fun to see that, but it makes sense it was cut. Especially since the movie is such a poetic journey for the main character. And the idea of the multiverse explained through her shows us all the paths not chosen.
Let me know what you think in the comments.