Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

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barryconvex
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#51 Post by barryconvex » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:54 am

I understand why this movie doesn't work for a lot of people...
I don't. I can't believe anyone could watch this and not come away impressed by the chops of its rookie director and much more than likely, terrified. I know i was. The turning point when you knew this guy (Aster) was playing for keeps?
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That would be the shot of the thirteen year old girl's severed head. Minus a lower jaw, covered in ants and lying in the middle of the highway.
After raising the stakes (and putting enormous pressure on himself to justify using an image like that) i thought Aster showed real mettle the rest of the way while wisely trusting his thoroughbred to carry him over the finish line. And boy does Collette carry him. I've been a fan of her's since the under appreciated Clockwatchers but she's at another level here-a true master. Some minor quibbles can be made about the whole but this is a remarkable first feature with a glorious meltdown of an ending.

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tenia
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#52 Post by tenia » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:38 am

I just had a discussion about the movie on a French forum, and basically nobody who saw it liked it, so I definitely can picture people not being impressed nor scared.

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Drucker
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#53 Post by Drucker » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:11 am

Sausage's post makes me want to revisit this film, but after seeing it last night, I had mixed feelings. I actually think for the most part the film works well. The early twist is indeed fantastically executed. The acting, all-around, is good and quite scary. While the final act is more traditionally horror-movie-esque, the imagery it gives us was scary, and a few of those moments are still sticking with me today.

My problem with this film is I kind of just want to eye roll at this point. I'm not a horror buff like my wife is, but in one of the very first scenes, we get a slow pan of an empty house with eerie music. There's nothing eerie about it. But the music is just so creepy. I feel like the film frequently trades on terror it's not really earning. In classic horror movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, or The Shining, there are either regular or light-hearted moments in the beginning that don't clue you in on exactly what you're coming to expect, and that makes the horror at the end so much more terrifying. Even It Follows, which I liked more than this, starts with some kids just hanging out on a couch before a girl goes out on a date.
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Sausage's post on the last page negates this criticism a bit, but I also just can't quite get over that it ends up with crowning a new devil, or whatever. There's just too little backstory that gives it credence. I also like The VVitch more than this, and felt the payoff in that finale was entirely earned. All the events did point to a girl becoming a demon. Here, not so much. I'm actually not even sure what mental state the male body is in at the end. Is he dead? Inhabited by his sister? Honestly not sure!
Enjoyable, and certainly an above-average horror film, but not as enjoyable as some of the other stuff these folks have been a part of.

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Murdoch
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#54 Post by Murdoch » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:56 pm

I think my tastes regarding horror are somewhat in the minority here since I didn't mind the film's turn toward convention in the final act and much preferred it to something like The Babadook where the metaphor of the film taking center stage resulted in a rather trite conclusion.

As Sausage mentioned, the depth given to the family history provides a much greater weight to the final act. This film felt so painfully tragic and that tragedy only heightened once
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the cult/possession became obvious. Yes, the scene with Peter sitting at lunch watching Joan speak incantations from across the street was hokey and felt pulled from a much lesser film, but once I realized that this was all headed toward a bad end I felt a deep sadness for this family.
This also hits a personal note for me. Mental illness has begun to creep into my family and my grandmother just passed. On top of that, as part of my job, I represent mental hospitals and have seen the generations-long effects that manic illness can have on patients.
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That the characters in this are essentially pawns, doomed long before they were even born, is just the last nail in the coffin of an intricately-designed tale of loss and futility. Much horror deals with futility, but Hereditary's story works because Aster seems much more concerned with focusing on the family's grief and letting the genre details quietly accumulate in the backdrop.
That said, I did take issue with the use of Shapiro. I got the sense that her casting was solely based on her physical appearance and the film's marketing made heavy use of putting her face front and center like a prop to grab viewers. I was hoping this was just an aspect of exploitative marketing, but the film doesn't fare better, giving her an uninspired creepy little girl role. Anne, Peter and Steve all feel like real people that are part of a family. Charlie, on the other hand, is just kind of there to mangle animals and wander silently.
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Were this the cliched creepy kid movie the trailer promised, I'd simply roll my eyes and brush it off. But that's not what this movie is. Charlie has maybe 15 minutes of screentime and is gruesomely killed. There's no reason for her to be this walking stereotype other than as an easy explanation for why she terrorizes Peter and so easily accepts taking him over. But I find it very disheartening that the film would rely on such dull characterization with Charlie when it so painfully focuses on creating compelling, fleshed-out characters for the other three members of the family.
Writing this down made me realize what a mixed bag the film is, but I do think the good tips the scales in its favor. I also think mentioning this alongside A Quiet Place does Hereditary a disservice as the former is essentially a dumb action movie in need of a script rewrite.

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sinemadelisikiz
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#55 Post by sinemadelisikiz » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:16 pm

That said, I did take issue with the use of Shapiro. I got the sense that her casting was solely based on her physical appearance and the film's marketing made heavy use of putting her face front and center like a prop to grab viewers. I was hoping this was just an aspect of exploitative marketing, but the film doesn't fare better, giving her an uninspired creepy little girl role. Anne, Peter and Steve all feel like real people that are part of a family. Charlie, on the other hand, is just kind of there to mangle animals and wander silently.
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Were this the cliched creepy kid movie the trailer promised, I'd simply roll my eyes and brush it off. But that's not what this movie is. Charlie has maybe 15 minutes of screentime and is gruesomely killed. There's no reason for her to be this walking stereotype other than as an easy explanation for why she terrorizes Peter and so easily accepts taking him over. But I find it very disheartening that the film would rely on such dull characterization with Charlie when it so painfully focuses on creating compelling, fleshed-out characters for the other three members of the family.
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Charlie was never Charlie though. She was always a vessel for the demon Paimon. I think the creepy child stuff makes more sense in that light, and I'm not sure what more characterization is needed. She doesn't act like a person, because she wasn't one. I doubt that fixes the feeling that Shapiro was exploited though...

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Murdoch
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#56 Post by Murdoch » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:36 pm

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That makes sense. Admittedly the possession backstory went a little over my head.

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Persona
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#57 Post by Persona » Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:11 am

I finally watched this.

Everything that everyone has said is correct.

You can tell that this movie is the first feature-length film for its writer-director. But you can also tell that that writer-director has got something going for him and that he's really talented. The exposition was fully unnecessary and as committed and engrossing as Collette is in this, there are a few scenes where her hysterics err on the side of sucking the tension right out of the mood the film is going for. I actually thought Gabriel Byrne was really quite good here. It's kind of a nothing character but he makes the most of it, I think his performance grounds the family dynamic into something that feels semi-relatable. I've heard a lot of praise for Alex Wolff in this but I never found him particularly believable, he gives such a measured pace and EMPHASIS to almost every action and line reading for his character and then when he pumps up the intensity it gets shrill in a way that's not nearly as unusual and entertaining as how Collette does it. He's a young method actor and that's what it feels like, a performance by a young method actor. Milly Shapiro was good but I honestly have not a clue as to what I am supposed to think about her character--and maybe that's as it should be.

Boy, though, Ari Aster gets a lot of mileage out of his aesthetic. Like, the third act of this movie would just be flat-out predictable dreckitude in the hands of a lesser prodigious talent behind the camera. But Aster and his DP shoot the hell out of it and the imagery ends up being kind of unforgettable. And as a long time Colin Stetson fan, man, he kills it with the score. So it's this weird mix of the actual narrative conclusion being a big fat sigh, and yet the presentation--that sickly divine music for the final scene and some of those shots, especially that very last one--kind of wins me over, regardless.

I do think there is quite a significant missed opportunity to have kept the film grounded in a more psychological approach. That set-up is there, the themes are there, the way it plays out in the family is there, and it's okay that the film uses horror imagery... but it does feel like it tips the scale too far past the point of ambiguity or connecting its ideas into the central theme of "hereditary" and the psychological framework that is kind of traced out but then neglected for the sake of the emergent and cliched horror genre storyline, which just kind of takes over--even to the point of marginalizing the film's central character and her arc. Again, I don't have a problem with the film leaning into the horror imagery, especially when it's effective and striking horror imagery--I just wish it had tied in better to everything the film seemed like it was trying to do in its first two acts with Annie and her relationship with her family. It's not even that I need the horror to function more clearly as metaphor, but instead of feeling like we're hearing a different movement in the same piece of music, it's like someone picked up the needle and dropped it on an entirely different track.

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Finch
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#58 Post by Finch » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:23 am

Following Persona's post I rewatched the film and I disliked it as much as before. Alex Wolff is appalling in a crucial role, though, like Gabriel Byrne's, it's a next to nothing character. I'd have found his crowning in the finale more credible too if he had been shown at least something of a darker side but he spends much of the second half of the film whining (unless Aster cut out a lot of character moments that perhaps should have stayed in). Or is the film saying that his fragility makes him all the more suitable for the reincarnation?

I also felt this time round that Ann Dowd played her role too broadly.

Generally, the film feels too much like a construct, and too smug. Just like Aster's short films really. It has two great scenes (Annie's talk at the therapy meeting and the accident - though personally, I'd have held that one shot longer still), a great score and Collette and Byrne, and it's ultimately all wasted on a film that feels less fully formed than a calling card.

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tenia
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#59 Post by tenia » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:13 am

I liked Byrne but didnt find anything very special in Collette's acting, probably because her character felt like a rehash of some stereotypical hysterical mother facing the supernatural.
Still, Hereditary is a nicely done movie, probably more interesting as a family drama than anything scary, but it's way too long and indeed not enough homogeneously well acted to be memorable to me.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#60 Post by nitin » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:58 am

Essie Davis’s similar performance in The Babadook was much superior I felt.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#61 Post by knives » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:18 pm

I'd appreciate this remake of The Brood if the hocus pocus angle was less certain. The way it deal with grief as an all consuming act of self destruction is pretty fascinating on its face though even this year Annihilation dealt with it in a better way. That said, as some have pointed out above, what adds to the movie is the grief is just one component of the way the film deals with familial connection. The use of mental illness here is very fascinating since the film seems to be saying that it is manageable so long as there is not any grief. Perhaps this is a limiting conception of people, but I took away Aster saying that while humans can manage their internal and external issues if the two meet it becomes too much. In the end though how the film explores this make it look a little too predetermined, though I guess the title explains that as the conclusion, which doesn't entirely make sense and what makes the literalization of her manifestations all the more frustrating.

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#62 Post by Big Ben » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:36 pm

In the school the teacher asks about the tragedy of Oedipus is more or less tragic because of the way the story is conditioned. Another student states that it's tragic because there isn't anything anyone could have to prevent what was going on. The prophecy itself becomes true because everyone involved, despite knowing what the prophecy entailed couldn't do anything to prevent it. In layman's terms, being aware of the prophecy made them perform actions that they believed would cause such events to not happen but in doing so did so anyway resulting well, you know all that very bad Oedipus shit.
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This correlates in part to the stories take on mental illness seeing as what the family is experiencing brain wise is just as unavoidable just as the insidious plot against them is.
The film actually had to address a certain scene and it's impact because the test audiences were so bothered by it:
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Originally, Peter apparently blinded himself much like Oedipus did in the original Greek myth. Test audiences thought that was a bit too much and so they reshot that part without the missing eyeballs.

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knives
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#63 Post by knives » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:00 pm

That's fair and well, but there is a difference between the tragedy of power and the tragedy of mental illness/grief. One necessarily must fall, we all die, while the other can be overcome.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#64 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:16 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:00 pm
That's fair and well, but there is a difference between the tragedy of power and the tragedy of mental illness/grief. One necessarily must fall, we all die, while the other can be overcome.
You seem to be objecting to the predetermined aspect, but why? Predestination ala Greek tragedy is such a good metaphor for the way the burdens of family make us feel powerless, deprive us of choice, freedom, options, and condemn us to miseries we didn't earn and don't deserve. Especially if one of those burdens is mental illness. To say that this clear and potent emotional understanding of the situation is false because the situation is not technically as all-consuming as literal Greek tragedy is to misunderstand the story and the nature of metaphor. This is not a story about how grief and mental illness work every single time, like a factory stamp. It's a story about what it feels like to be trapped in the terror and uncertainty of grief and mental illness. Metaphors are important as much for the ways they aren't the case as for the ways they are.

My objection would be that there are too many metaphors. Mental illness can be demonic possession or it can be Greek tragedy, but it's overkill to make it both.

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knives
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#65 Post by knives » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:44 pm

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I think your last point gets at what rubs me wrong with the tragic aspect, though I might have to rephrase. A Greek tragedy is powerful in part because of its isolation even when it is about a family, this story seems weirdly more like Antigone to me because of that, yet how the film deals with its possession through a Satanic cult and with the second woman guiding Collette makes the metaphor more universal. It is as if to say everyone in this group, grief, can't escape from it and that if you have a second demon, mental illness, it will necessarily destroy you. The film perhaps needs two metaphors to go with its dueling yet not bifurcated concerns, but I don't think Aster makes them work well together which gets to my objection.
With my agreeability out of the way, just to needle a point, why is Greek tragedy such a good metaphor? Tragedy in the larger sense perhaps, but so much of the thumb of family expectation is how adapting with and against it is the way people survive it generally which rebels against fitting into the Greek mold. Even in the case of a failure that, in my experience, typically forms from a more Shakespearean attempt to live up to that ideal, or in this case the opposite, and the pains or either achieving it or not. Rather than Oedipus it strikes a better model for this story may have been Hamlet or Henry IV. The Greek examples I can think of that deal directly with grief, just to talk about one of the film's themes, such as Medea don't have this pre-determinism attached to grieving itself. In that story's case, for example, we are given two very different models of grief and while one is pre-determined that element of it's tragedy is at once a side effect of the grief and caused by something other than the grief which is a very different expression than Aster's.

In all this I'm thinking of The Killing of a Sacred Deer which is another recent film that used Greek tragedy as a model, much more successfully in my opinion though at the moment I'd say they're equal films overall, and I can't explain why that one worked for me.

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#66 Post by Big Ben » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:06 pm

The crux of Hereditary for me comes when Collette's character acknowledges that she cannot fix her sons issues, both the emotional ones and yes the spiritual ones. In doing so, Byrne's character steps in an attempt fix the issue one might normally (Within traditional cultural roles.) associate with the mother. Love in these instances doesn't cure you of those ills but it does help you cope and when the close knit nature of a familial structure or group is broken, everyone is vulnerable. Peter's ensuing vulnerability comes from that lack of oversight which culminates with the ending being the ending that it is. A perfectly normal (Unfortunately) reaction to extreme stress is what seals the fate of quite a few people and certain individuals are too distracted by grief to realize that nefarious forces are at work and when all is said and done that lack of awareness and vulnerability is what leads the film to it's conclusion.

In regards to mental illness specifically in context to the film I think it's important to remember that these types of illness don't go away and that it is a determined factor, either through genes, trauma or other outside factors. It IS however manageable which I feel makes it just a little less depressing than a fully determined violent outcome. For what it's worth the pained ugliness of this is a highlight of the film for me even if it gets muddled along the way by other plot factors.

I agree with Sausage about the metaphors though. There are too many, the dolls for instance I feel are a little too blunt and explaining certain aspects and motivations of certain individuals within the plot derives it of some of it. It's a strong first feature with just a bit too much fat in it. I think some time Aster could really start making some things I hope more of you like.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#67 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:19 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:44 pm
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I think your last point gets at what rubs me wrong with the tragic aspect, though I might have to rephrase. A Greek tragedy is powerful in part because of its isolation even when it is about a family, this story seems weirdly more like Antigone to me because of that, yet how the film deals with its possession through a Satanic cult and with the second woman guiding Collette makes the metaphor more universal. It is as if to say everyone in this group, grief, can't escape from it and that if you have a second demon, mental illness, it will necessarily destroy you. The film perhaps needs two metaphors to go with its dueling yet not bifurcated concerns, but I don't think Aster makes them work well together which gets to my objection.
I'm having trouble understanding your objection. I can't follow how the second woman makes the metaphor (which one?) more universal, not least because she pulls the mother away from the healing offered by the support group and into her mother's damaging bullshit. And I can't tell whose mental illness you're talking about. The son's?

What is it that you're objecting to? The idea that the intersection of grief, family instability, and mental illness can destroy a family?
knives wrote:With my agreeability out of the way, just to needle a point, why is Greek tragedy such a good metaphor? Tragedy in the larger sense perhaps, but so much of the thumb of family expectation is how adapting with and against it is the way people survive it generally which rebels against fitting into the Greek mold. Even in the case of a failure that, in my experience, typically forms from a more Shakespearean attempt to live up to that ideal, or in this case the opposite, and the pains or either achieving it or not. Rather than Oedipus it strikes a better model for this story may have been Hamlet or Henry IV.
I thought I explained what made it a good metaphor in my previous post: the way it captures how "the burdens of family make us feel powerless, deprive us of choice, freedom, options, and condemn us to miseries we didn't earn and don't deserve." I can think of fewer things that capture that emotion more powerfully than Oedipus Tyrranos.

The rest just seems kind of pedantic. Yes, metaphors aren't a 1:1 relation; that's what makes them metaphors. Herditary is not pretending to be a Greek tragedy. Picking at all the ways it isn't one is missing the point. You can't choose your family, you can't choose not to have your mental illness, and that can be horrible. This is a story about how it's horrible, not how it's overcome.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#68 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:31 pm

Big Ben wrote:The crux of Hereditary for me comes when Collette's character acknowledges that she cannot fix her sons issues, both the emotional ones and yes the spiritual ones. In doing so, Byrne's character steps in an attempt fix the issue one might normally (Within traditional cultural roles.) associate with the mother. Love in these instances doesn't cure you of those ills but it does help you cope and when the close knit nature of a familial structure or group is broken, everyone is vulnerable. Peter's ensuing vulnerability comes from that lack of oversight which culminates with the ending being the ending that it is. A perfectly normal (Unfortunately) reaction to extreme stress is what seals the fate of quite a few people and certain individuals are too distracted by grief to realize that nefarious forces are at work and when all is said and done that lack of awareness and vulnerability is what leads the film to it's conclusion.
It's more than a close knit family structure being broken: this plain wasn't a healthy family from the start. One of the things the events of the movie bring out is the mistrust, secrecy, resentment, and lack of communication simmering under the surface. Colette and her son have a badly fractured relationship full of issues they aren't dealing with (stemming from Colette not wanting children on some level); the husband is plainly suspicious of his wife's mental state and activities (unjustly, it turns out) and does not have her back at a crucial moment when family solidarity is needed. And the daughter is just wandering through this family in a daze, pawned off on her brother and otherwise isolated and giving in to eccentricities. Inheriting family burdens comes at multiple levels here. There's no overcoming anything because nothing's in place to allow for that. Managing grief and mental illness needs a strong support structure, and that just isn't here. This is a family passing along instability in one form or another for generations, it seems.

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