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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

Director's Cuts/Extended Additions
Topic by: Brockton
Posted: January 12, 2004 - 3:30 PM PST
Last Reply: April 13, 2004 - 1:29 AM PDT

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author topic: Director's Cuts/Extended Additions
Brockton
post #1  on January 12, 2004 - 3:30 PM PST  
Beat me if this is already an exhausted subject, but, I'm wondering about peoples' insights about the relative qualities of theatrical versus director's cuts.

For example, I've seen a lot of raves about the Apocalypse Now Redux edition, but, quite frankly, I prefer the original.

For another, I've heard (read) divergent opinions on which version of The Wicker Man is better. I really liked the short version, and it looks like the only way I'll see the full length cut is to buy it.

I've also seen a lot of similar debate about the director's cut of blade runner.

Your opinions, please...
Eoliano
post #2  on January 12, 2004 - 5:36 PM PST  
It all depends on whether the additional scenes propel the narrative or help shape the film, or at least impart some insightful information regarding character motivation, though it's not always necessary and, as is often the case, is best left to the imagination. In the case of Apocalypse Now Redux, I acquiesce entirely. I found the Playboy Bunny scenes completely useless and at times embarrassing. And although it was interesting to see the French plantation scenes, they destroy any suspense and momentum the film had up to that point.
dpowers
post #3  on January 12, 2004 - 7:39 PM PST  
after the star wars "special editions" in 1998 i don't really care about this anymore. if it's 75 years ago, whatever you can dig out that wasn't lost, stolen or consumed by fire, good for you. 50 years ago, restore the color, great. 25 years ago, 10 years ago... sure, whatever makes you happy. suit yourself. you're just trying to put a new suit on an old idea so that it doesn't look stupid on the dance floor, but it tends to draw attention to the fact that everybody looks stupid on the dance floor. keep your trap shut.
Eoliano
post #4  on January 12, 2004 - 8:33 PM PST  
> after the star wars "special editions" in 1998 i don't really care about this anymore.

Star Wars? Who cares from Star Wars?

> keep your trap shut.

How provocative! And hey, my trap is always shut when I'm on the dance floor!
dpowers
post #5  on January 12, 2004 - 9:38 PM PST  
oh you know what i mean. these bullshit "improvements" getting released with big fanfare because they're trying to weasel a technophile public into buying the video twice, but then the famous hatchet jobs like magnificent ambersons and greed stay wrecked, the material is lost - because what wasn't used for the "theatrical cut" was put in a bin and lit afire by the studio people.

most of the "director's cut" versions i've seen are a fools' paradise of anal tweaks. i want to see the money that went toward promoting redux spent on finding out what the hell else is happening in cinema these days. the 70s are not here anymore.

prod prod
dwhudson
post #6  on January 13, 2004 - 1:21 AM PST  
Just to state the obvious, and assuming it's already assumed all around, I think we can safely keep restorations, on the one hand - even those that have a dash of "director's cut" in them, like the work done on Touch of Evil by Walter Murch and Jonathan Rosenbaum - and "director's cuts" in the vein of Ridley Scott's various versions of Blade Runner and Alien, on the other hand, are two different things. Generally. Though the line blurs every now and then.

But I don't really object to various versions as long as there's some record of any version that has historical value (e.g., the original theatrical release of most films; eventually, though, those versions will have less and less of a "historical" impact).

Also, we're getting used to the idea very, very quickly of letting go of the "definitive" version (as we've discussed at some other point around here...) In some instances, that's troubling, maybe. But in other cases, not at all. The most obvious example: LOTR fans and filmmakers alike are relieved by the freedom Jackson & Co have had to slim the theatrical release of those films down without really losing lots of good stuff because they can always stick it on the DVD. Plus, the alternative endings offered on the 28 Days Later DVD and so on...

Just as a reminder, oldkingcole laid out some of his thoughts on all this in "Improved Into Oblivion."
larbeck
post #7  on January 13, 2004 - 4:24 AM PST  
> On January 12, 2004 - 5:36 PM PST Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> In the case of Apocalypse Now Redux, I acquiesce entirely. I found the Playboy Bunny scenes completely useless and at times embarrassing. And although it was interesting to see the French plantation scenes, they destroy any suspense and momentum the film had up to that point.
>
Oh, I so very much disagree! In fact, before I read your post, that was one of the scenes that I immediately came to mind It so very much *supports* the cause of the "director's cut" for me. To show, the late great Bill Graham (may the Goddess rest his weary soul) pimping some young women for fuel to bug out of the war zone is so archtypical of a promoter's drive to survive - and symbolic of the American way of exploiting the powerless and the down-and-out to further our way of life. And the wistful terror of that wonderful actress in the helicopter as she disconnected from the reality of the situation is a masterful scene, a lost of innocence and showcases a quieter sort of horror that occurs on the fringe of all war zones as young woman are trained in the art of camp following and enslaved as a commodity. It was a wonderful scene and more than any, I wish it was in the original cut.

The French plantation scenes, too, is great, showing the rich moaning and groaning of their lost while having the choice of bugging out - a choice so few others had in Vietnam. And reminds us of the French influence and history in Indochina - a history lesson that many, many of the bubba's here in Bubbaland need.

larbeck
post #8  on January 13, 2004 - 4:33 AM PST  
Another great, great "director's cut" is the Extended Edition of "The Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers". I saw it in the theater (not the Day of the Whole Trilogy - as I discovered at a film festival once, 9 hours in a movie theater is my limit).

The film seems more complete, the flow better - not an extension at all but a more better film. Then only time is PLEASE bring back that old customer of INTERMISSIONS! The middle bladder, forever fighting the tempetions of "for a quarter more" needs a break, especially with such a rich, lush film!

Now, the other side of the coin, the worst "improved to death" extended version was the bastradization of David Lynch's "Dune" for network television. The biggest surprise of the film for me as the great score by Toto (*TOTO!!!*) and it ripped out and replaced with an orchestra score that I just refused to consider on General Priniciple. And the new narrative and slide shows to explain it all to the ducks in duckland just insults me. I would rather they give everyone a copy of Herbets glossary and make the mundune take a test before buying a ticket - but then I stay away from marketing.

Which, you can imagine why I love the director's cut of "Blade Runner". If for any other reason, to have Harrison Ford not do the voice over Vangelis masterful score!!!!

"Life is a long song!" - Ian Anderson
larbeck
post #9  on January 13, 2004 - 4:37 AM PST  
> On January 13, 2004 - 4:33 AM PST larbeck meant to type:
> ---------------------------------
>
Then PLEASE bring back that old custom of INTERMISSIONS! The middle-age bladder, forever fighting the tempetions of "for a quarter more" needs a break, especially with such a rich, lush film!

Brockton
post #10  on January 13, 2004 - 5:33 AM PST  
> On January 13, 2004 - 4:37 AM PST larbeck wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On January 13, 2004 - 4:33 AM PST larbeck meant to type:
> > ---------------------------------
> >
> Then PLEASE bring back that old custom of INTERMISSIONS!

> ---------------------------------

Here, here!
ColonelKong
post #11  on January 13, 2004 - 7:57 AM PST  
I'm with Brockton and Eoliano on Apocalype Now: Redux, while some of the added scenes are interesting on their own, I think that they do tend to kill the pacing and would work better as "deleted scenes" rather than being integrated into the film. The recent Alien SE is another "director's cut"/"special edition" I'm not real fond of (Ridley Scott claims that the theatrical version was the director's cut), I think putting the scene with Captain Dallas in the cocoon back into the movie really kills the pacing of the climax. On the other hand, I like the longer version of Alien 3 that's included on the Alien Quadrilogy set, and the extended cuts of the LOTR films. I actually can't compare the director's cut of Blade Runner with the original since that's the only way I've ever seen it.

I'm generally not that crazy about directors tinkering with their films after the fact, I tend to only watch these versions of films once and then go back to the original. If the version of a movie that was shown in theaters was compromised in some way, then I'm all for a version that restores whatever was taken out (or in some cases, removes what was added) against the director's wishes, but if a new version of a film is made primarily as a gimmick (you really can't re-release a classic film in theaters without some new bells and whistles), I'm usually not very enthusiastic about those changes. The Exorcist Special Edition from a few years ago is another rerelease version of a film that felt rather gimmicky to me.
hamano
post #12  on January 13, 2004 - 8:00 AM PST  
> On January 13, 2004 - 5:33 AM PST Brockton wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Here, here!
> ---------------------------------

Is it "Here here"? I always thought it was "Hear, hear!" Brockton, are you gathering material for another list?

I think restorations are great, but so often they turn the process of restoring a classic film into a MEDIA EVENT in itself, with a documentary about the people financing the effort, etc. I guess there's no harm making heroes out of film historians and the fine craftsmen who actually wash and mend the celluloid (except a lot of THAT also seems to take place on a computer nowadays).

I can't really object to a film maker like Coppola trying to tweak his own creation. Until the day he dies he should have the right to fiddle with it. But I think there's probably a good reason painters don't keep tweaking their paintings and writer's don't keep rewriting their novels. Maybe 20 years from now, every single STAR WARS film will have been re-rendered frame by frame by George Lucas to fit his vision, and who's to say the result would not be glorious? Maybe I'll be an old man, but I'll finally get to see the whole 9-film epic end to end as first envisioned....

If you look at the way music singles are often released nowadays, there are many remixes put out, sometimes enough versions to make another whole album. Our concept of original art and variety are changing, and as with all art movements, who's to say if that's good or bad? You just gotta find the boat that strikes your fancy, hop in and sail along.
Brockton
post #13  on January 13, 2004 - 8:08 AM PST  
> On January 13, 2004 - 8:00 AM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On January 13, 2004 - 5:33 AM PST Brockton wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> Is it "Here here"? I always thought it was "Hear, hear!" Brockton, are you gathering material for another list?
>
I stand corrected. No, I'm not gathering for a list--this time.

I have often thought it would be nice if they (whoever they are) would make it possible to select between directors cut/extended edition and theatrical version on the same DVD. I worry about a future where the director's cut becomes the only version available...
Eoliano
post #14  on January 13, 2004 - 8:30 AM PST  
The Touch of Evil restoration is an excellent case in point and without a doubt, the film is all the better for it, as well as being a tremendous boon for die-hard Wellesians. And who knows, that lost Ambersons footage may still be rotting in some basement in Rio.

The line is indeed blurred between the various slew of newly tweaked films with director's cuts being released every season preceded by so much hyperbole from their respective studios, and very often we think, what's the point, the original was just fine. Sometimes enough is enough. Imagine (preparing to duck bullets) a director's cut of Scarface.

On the other hand, an example of a theatrical release needing expansion is Terence Malik's Thin Red Line which seemed misshapen and lacking several essential elements. Whether or not any usable footage exists remains to be seen, and while Malik certainly has a strong following, the studio, from a marketing standpoint, might demur since such a project might seem dubious to them.

Regarding Apocolypse Now Redux, with the exception of the extra patrol boat footage, the additional Bunny and plantation scenes seemed utterly unnecessary, and the mesmerizing, hallucinatory effect and flow of the film is seriously diminished. Furthermore, I got the message the first time around.
Eoliano
post #15  on January 13, 2004 - 8:43 AM PST  


INTERMISSION

dpowers
post #16  on January 13, 2004 - 9:48 AM PST  
music has always had different versions on different records. i almost think that songs should be compared to different versions of television commercials, because the short work is being tweaked for different audiences, different sockets... more like the relationship between the theatrical version and the airline version... that would be funny, "paramount pictures is proud to announce the long-lost definitive TWA version of airplane!"

when comparing with feature films i want to talk about something like let it be... naked. "does stripping a famous album's added orchestration make it better or worse?"
Eoliano
post #17  on January 13, 2004 - 9:51 AM PST  
There is no argument whatsoever regarding film restoration. The recent release of an important film such as The Battle of Algiers is a positive indication that more films of this stature are due for restoration.

I have no objection to Coppola tinkering with his creations either, and for obvious reasons both versions of Apocolypse Now sit on my DVD shelves. Furthermore, I would not object to a DVD of Coppola's original NBC version of Godfather, including some of the scenes that were excised from the old VHS of that version. It was titled The Godfather Epic or The Godfather Saga or some such. And for those of you with long memories, please correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall a bootlegging scene at the Canadian border with the young Vito and Hyman Roth which was not included in that old VHS.
Eoliano
post #18  on January 13, 2004 - 10:00 AM PST  
> does stripping a famous album's added orchestration make it better or worse?"

It certainly is worse if you consider the added orchestration to the recent remix of Sympathy for the Devil!
Brockton
post #19  on January 13, 2004 - 11:16 AM PST  
> On January 13, 2004 - 8:30 AM PST Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Regarding Apocolypse Now Redux, with the exception of the extra patrol boat footage, the additional Bunny and plantation scenes seemed utterly unnecessary, and the mesmerizing, hallucinatory effect and flow of the film is seriously diminished. Furthermore, I got the message the first time around.
> ---------------------------------

While I still vote for the theatrical, I sure did enjoy the extra dose of Col. Kilgore.
IWhitney
post #20  on January 13, 2004 - 11:23 AM PST  
I think it's all a matter of intent. Is it a matter of writing a cinematic 'wrong,' a presentation of an alternative or an older, 'wiser' director fixing past mistakes? I got into this more when I had my site's writers focus on Alien for an entire month. Scott's got movies in each of these categories: Blade Runner was wronged, Legend has alternative versions and with Alien he was just tinkering.

Of course, after I wrote that I found the Alien Quad DVD included both versions of Alien, so my alarmism may have been a bit overdone. However, ther are other films that have been permanently replaced by 'special' editions (The Blues Brothers being one painful example), which I think is a serious problem.
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