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April 3, 2012 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Is a ’director’s cut’ ever a good idea? The director's cut has been a feature of the home video landscape for years, getting a significant boost from multi-disk DVD and now Blu-Ray sets. There are some pretty bad ones around, but which are the best? Movie sites like Shortlist, IGN Movies, MoviesOnline.ca, FilmWad and Empire have all given us lists of the best (and worst), and online discussions have suggested others (Blade Runner tops most lists, but beyond that they diverge significantly). Where do you start when that two-hour epic isn't epic enough?
posted by rory (166 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sparked by Artw's latest Aliens post.
posted by rory at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Donnie Darko had the worst director's cut ever. Apocalypse Now had the best. Next question?
posted by cjorgensen at 9:54 AM on April 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is there a director's cut of Weekend At Bernie's?
posted by spicynuts at 9:57 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Robert Wise's cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture makes the movie bearable and even good in many places. Shame it isn't available on blu-ray because of the new SFX only being rendered at 480p.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:57 AM on April 3, 2012


Blade Runner is unique, though, because of financing and other production problems that led to various cuts of a pretty decent film being distributed. So as it built its inevitable cult following, there was a financial incentive to do a director's cut. I can't think of too many other films where that conflict has happened (where a good film is involved). Apocalypse Now, perhaps. Heaven's Gate, maybe, but that was a stinker. Nowadays, there are very few directors who get something near enough to final cut that a director's cut would be an artistically-motivated decision, as opposed to just cashing in on the phrase "director's cut", such that consumers think they are getting something extra.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen a bunch of different cuts of Blade Runner, but I've never had much interest in seeing the director's cut of any other movie I can think of. With Blade Runner, I know the history but most of the time I can't imagine caring that much.

on preview: I would be interested in the ST:TMP cut mentioned by beaucoupkevin, though.
posted by immlass at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2012


Apocalypse Now had the best.

Cause one thing that movie really suffered from a lack of a 20 minute French dinner table scene.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:00 AM on April 3, 2012 [26 favorites]


cjorgensen: Donnie Darko had the worst director's cut ever.”

I wonder if you've seen the director's cut of Bladerunner. It has a voiceover by Harrison Ford explaining the story as it happens. A horrible, horrible voiceover.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 AM on April 3, 2012


There are at least two very different categories of director's cut. One is when the film's director loses control, the studio re-cuts it and then years later the director (or proxy) goes back and re-edits back to the original version. Examples would be Bladerunner, Touch of Evil, Brazil or Metropolis. The other type are more wanky indulgences by directors who want to show you all the cool stuff that they didn't stuff in the theatrical release. This would be Apocalypse Now (Redux), Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Almost Famous.

Metropolis finally makes sense as a story with the missing footage edited back in, Apocalypse Now just drags and repeats itself in the newer cut.
posted by octothorpe at 10:01 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The VO version of Blade Runner was the studio cut.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:01 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ech, it's even mentioned in the post. Don't know how I missed that. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 10:01 AM on April 3, 2012


koeselitz, that is the original, studio cut. The director's cut removed that.
posted by mikeh at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


With the amount of power directors have in today's Hollywood, there are more movies where I'd rather see the editor's cut than the director's cut. Like Peter Jackson's King Kong.

I wonder if you've seen the director's cut of Bladerunner. It has a voiceover by Harrison Ford explaining the story as it happens. A horrible, horrible voiceover.


That's exactly what the Bladerunner director's cut doesn't have.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


It has a voiceover by Harrison Ford explaining the story as it happens.

Maybe I should try this one. Lord knows there no way to tell what the story is by the 17 photons that manage to leave the surface of the screen.
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [15 favorites]


Sometimes yes, most of the time no...but then again most "extended editions" have nothing to do with the director anyway. It's totally a case by case thing, and any generalization about it today (especially with the waning importance of theatrical runs ever even happening) are kind of foolish.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012


Kingdom of Heaven should make one or two of these lists. The theatrical release was cut to crap; the director's cut version is actually a very good movie.
posted by mightygodking at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait, there's a version of BR where it is *harder* to tell what's going on? *boggle*
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lord knows there no way to tell what the story is by the 17 photons that manage to leave the surface of the screen.

If you think Bladerunner is too dark I caution you not to see Pathfinder, the most puzzlingly exposed movie I've ever seen. It's like the entire movie was shot day for night by accident.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2012


I haven't seen either version, but from what I've heard the director's cut of Oliver Stone's Alexander takes a bad movie and makes a shorter (relatively rare for director's cuts) and even worse movie.
posted by kmz at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2012


Back before DVDs got big, I spent a princely sum on a bootleg tape of the mythical 6-hour cut of Dune. Needless to say, I was ripped off as it turned out to be the regular version except interspersed with concert footage of the Police.
posted by griphus at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2012 [30 favorites]


on preview: I would be interested in the ST:TMP cut mentioned by beaucoupkevin, though.

It's available on DVD. Wise cut about 10 minutes of unneeded staring-out-the-window and SFX shots and replaced a chunk of that with a real sense of what V'Ger was. There's also various little timing nips and tucks that make the entire thing much more engaging than what was rushed out by Paramount.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2012


So, how was the "Renegade" version of Highlander II anyway?
posted by ODiV at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pathfinder trailer. My friends and I have a bunch of jokes about this movie, mostly centered around meeting the director of photography and finding out he wears sunglasses constantly, Jim McMahon style.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whatever you feel about the theatrical cut of Dune, avoid the "Special edition" of it at all costs - basically an attempt to stitch every last scrap of it they could find back into the movie whether it needed it or not (in all cases: not) plus an extra endless voiceover over a montage of paintings at the beginning.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Richard Donner's director's cut Superman II is definitely worth the money.
posted by tzikeh at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sparked by Artw's latest Aliens post.

And TBH Aliens is the only case where I am unambiguously enthusiastic about a recut of something that wasn't totally mangled to begin with.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2012


Back before DVDs got big, I spent a princely sum on a bootleg tape of the mythical 6-hour cut of Dune. Needless to say, I was ripped off as it turned out to be the regular version except interspersed with concert footage of the Police.

Ouch.

The relatively common Alan Smithee or "TV edit" version of Dune does add a bit more background and scenes from the books, but is way worse in almost all other respects, including obvious reuses of the exact same footage in multiple scenes.
posted by kmz at 10:07 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blade Runner is the first film I can remember where a "Director's Cut" was released to an enthusiastic audience of people who hated the voiceover and tacked-on happy ending... but most Director's Cuts since then just seem like vehicles to sell the same movie to people twice, plus or minus a few extra minutes.
posted by usonian at 10:07 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I am really, really confused about the various releases of Blade Runner.
posted by koeselitz at 10:07 AM on April 3, 2012


Apocalypse Now had the best.

I mean given that Gilliam's version of Brazil was the one released into theaters I'm not sure it meets the 'director's cut' qualifications but it's certainly the greatest difference between studio version and director's version.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 AM on April 3, 2012


I wonder if you've seen the director's cut of Bladerunner. It has a voiceover by Harrison Ford explaining the story as it happens. A horrible, horrible voiceover.

The original did have this, and it gave it the film noir, detective trope feeling. Without it the movie was a space movie on Earth.

Cause one thing that movie really suffered from a lack of a 20 minute French dinner table scene.

I can't think of one scene in that movie that should be taken out including this one.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:08 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


IIRC, Mann's cut of The Last of the Mohicans is better than the theatrical release, the lengthened battle scenes and landscape shots are worth it even if the differences are minor given that the movie is primarily about visual splendor.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:10 AM on April 3, 2012


The DVD case of the director's cut (or the re-tinkered cut, or whatever you want to call it) of Alexander had a little label on it that said: "Newly inspired, faster paced, more action packed!"

I mean, I haven't even seen Alexander but there was something about "Newly inspired," specifically, that stirred a minor rage in me.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:10 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The theatrical versions might be tighter but my wife and I only watch the extended editions of the LOTR movies. So many wonderful character moments that got lost in the effort to keep the beasts at the 3 hour mark.
posted by Ber at 10:11 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I actually just watched the "final cut" of Blade Runner and almost all of the changes from the Director's cut are little things that only Ridley Scott cared about. The sound mix is also significantly better.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:11 AM on April 3, 2012


Man, I am really, really confused about the various releases of Blade Runner.

Me too. I have like four different cuts in my DVD collection and when I want to watch Blade Runner I just sort of sit there, paralyzed.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


There was a period in the 70s and 80s when complex and challenging science fiction films were getting cut to levels of incomprehension in an effort to shorten them. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, BRAZIL and UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD were all shown in forms where they truncated so severely that they were virtually impossible to watch, even though each contain rich pleasures in their lengthy original or "director's cut" versions. For years I labored under the impression that cutting a film was nothing short of evil.

HEAVENLY CREATURES changed that. I was dazzled when I caught it in theaters, and galled when I found out that America received a shortened version with 10 minutes of materials cut due to heavy pressure from Harvey Weinstein. It came as quite a shock when I finally had a chance to watch the "uncut" version and found it to be leaden and limp at times, and actually provided an experience that was actually a little less rich than the shorter US cut. I'm somewhat bitter that the US version isn't available on Blu-Ray.

Then, of course, there's DONNIE DARKO, where the director's cut actually turned me against the film for a period of time, where the director's cut actively destroys the evocative mood of the released version.

There are lots of films where a label of "uncut" or "director's cut" is clearly a marketing gimmick. But even where there is a genuine battle between the director and the studio, it can go both ways. While deep in my heart I always want to support the director's intent, there are times (and I'm talking to you, Peter Jackson) where it's possible to tighten up a film without losing a thing.
posted by eschatfische at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The theatrical cut of The Wicker Man (1973, obv) was butchered by vengeful producers into a 20-odd-minutes-shorter movie that made little sense -- a decision that is largely responsible for how poorly it did in theaters. Watching the "director's cut" is the only way to fully understand what's going on.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Final Final Cut will be the words "DECKARD IS A REPLICANT" in block capitols on screen for 2 hours with a Vangelis soundtrack.
posted by Artw at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2012 [29 favorites]


"Sushi. That's what my wife called me. Cold Fish."

I'm somebody who actually likes the voiceover in Blade Runner. That's partly because I see the endless fiddling by Scott after the fact as just that -- fiddling. And, to be fair, it's also because that's what I first saw as a teenager, and I pointed out to my best friend that we were Bryant's age. That is, in 2016, we'd be just about that age.

I also think it completely undercuts the whole point of the story to make Deckard a replicant. "More human than human." -- the point is, the manufactured replicants are more alive than the humans.

But hey. And, unlike my wife, I never got hung up on the missing replicant from the internal references. (And the bad looping of the correct count in one "director's cut" I saw at the DGA.)

I don't think the point of the voiceover is to explain the story, actually. Having seen the (current until next year) director's cut, I think the voiceover is there because almost all of that part of the film is nothing but silent (well, mit foley) loving shots of the car flying through the air. Probably drove the studio guys crazy -- "Ridley -- nothing's happening!"

Anyway.

Best director's cut: Brazil. Recommended: Jack Mathews' book, The Battle of Brazil. (He was writing for the LA Times at the time, and it's a good look at the sheer childishness of studio executives -- almost as lifelike as Swimming with Sharks. But I digress.)
posted by aurelian at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


For anyone who wants to know more about the differences between the Blade Runner versions and the process behind why it got edited the way it did the first time, I highly recommend the documentary Dangerous Days.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:14 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


T2 extended edition is also a mixed bag. You get them enabling the neural net processing and that explains looking for the keys under the sun visor, the hasta la vistas etc (awesome). You also get that godawful dream sequence where Reese tells Sarah to be strong and shit. I think this came up in the Aliens thread as well.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:14 AM on April 3, 2012


After watching the Director's Cut version for years, I was a little bit shocked to find when I watched the gazillion versions in the Ultimate Edition of Bladerunner that I found that the voice over wasn't that bad...

Apocalypse Now Redux is interesting but just too long.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2012


(Also off topic but one of the most interesting things Dangerous Days gets into in my opinion is the techniques used to do the effects in the film. Bladerunner was one of the last big budget sci fi films to do all of the effects in camera without CGI, which is part of the reason why it's so visually stunning)
posted by burnmp3s at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2012


Director's cut? I thought we were done with circumcision threads.
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2012


Oh and you get the T1000 glitching out at the end after he gets frozen and losing control of his abilities and his legs taking on the texture of the metal he's walking on which is BEYOND AWESOME.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2012


Oh and of course these new versions of Star Wars et al we get every two to three years are just awesome... it just gets better and better... right guys? Guys?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:19 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness that one of those lists included Daredevil, because I have the Blu-Ray Directors Cut and it really improves the film a great deal.
Now if they could only recast Electra and Bullseye.
Ben Affleck I didn't have a problem with and Jon Favreau's Foggy Nelson and Michael Clark Duncan's Kingpin were wonderful.
posted by THAT William Mize at 10:19 AM on April 3, 2012


Funny thing is I remember a lot of the T2 stuff mentioned here from seeing it at the cinema, is there any chance they showed a different cut in the UK?
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on April 3, 2012


I have a copy of the "Bootleg Edition"/Directors Cut of Army of Darkness -- one of many different versions of that movie -- and I don't like it at all. I prefer the S-Mart ending in the US theatrical release to the post-apocalyptic UK ending, and all of the added scenes just throw the pacing off for me.

Then again, I grew up watching the theatrical release, so maybe I'm biased.
posted by brundlefly at 10:25 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the French Plantation scene completely disrupted the pacing and flow of Apocalypse Now: Redux. I liked every added scene or sequence except for that one. If you read Walter Murch's account of editing Redux, he talked about how they had no good arrival or departure scenes for that sequence, so he ultimately used shots of the boat going into smoke and mist as bookends, which helps reinforce its dream-like feel. Even though I appreciate that clever editing workaround, the conversation is intermniable.
posted by Falconetti at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2012


The Plantation scene really throws the movie totally into fantasy for me, there's no way that that family could still be there by then.
posted by octothorpe at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2012


I actually really like that scene, without really thinking it makes for a better movie.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2012


The studio cut the American release of Once Upon a Time in America from 229 minutes to 139 minutes, seemingly at random, against directory Sergio Leone's wishes. Roger Ebert's review outlines some of the problems introduced by the edits:
A speakeasy scene comes before a newspaper headline announces that Prohibition has been ratified. Prohibition is then repealed, on what feels like the next day but must be six years later. Two gangsters talk about robbing a bank in front of a woman who has never been seen before in the film; they've removed the scene explaining who she is. A labor leader turns up, unexplained, and involves the gangsters in an inexplicable situation. He later sells out, but to whom? Men come to kill De Niro's girlfriend, a character we've hardly met, and we don't know if they come from the mob or the police. And here's a real howler: At the end of the shortened version, De Niro leaves a room he has never seen before by walking through a secret panel in the wall. How did he know it was there? In the long version, he was told it was there. In the short version, his startling exit shows simple contempt for the audience.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:31 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


>It has a voiceover by Harrison Ford explaining the story as it happens.

I'm just gonna say that the only movie this really, really worked was Idiocracy.
posted by Catblack at 10:34 AM on April 3, 2012


On yeah, the US theatrical cut of Once Upon a Time in America is hilariously terrible. I had only seen the director's cut but watched the US theatrical cut out of curiousity and it was unbearable. I can't imagine watching it and having any idea what was happening without having seen the longer version. Although, if you think it is all Deniro's opium dream anyway, I guess who cares. *riiiiiiiiiing* *riiiiiiiiiing* *riiiiiiiiiing* *riiiiiiiii....
posted by Falconetti at 10:35 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


For anyone who wants to know more about the differences between the Blade Runner versions and the process behind why it got edited the way it did the first time, I highly recommend the documentary Dangerous Days.

And the canonical book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:36 AM on April 3, 2012



I dunno. I sort of feel that this "new and improved directors mega max edition super cut" is nonsense, artistically. And it annoys me when they do it to Tide the Detergent, leaving aside the cultural touchestones of my young adulthood.

But I'm one of those losers who liked the Voiceover version of Blade Runner.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:45 AM on April 3, 2012


Richard Donner's director's cut Superman II is definitely worth the money.

I haven't seen it but I understand that, regardless of what he fixed in two, he didn't bother to make it actually jibe with Superman I as it was released, so Superman does the same time-reversing flight at the end of both films.
posted by anazgnos at 10:47 AM on April 3, 2012


I can't think of one scene in that movie that should be taken out including this one.

I would disagree. In the theatrical release we get Kilgore's final scene with his famous, much-imitated "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" speech. He concludes with the introspective "Someday this war's gonna end," and then stands and exits. It is iconic. In Redux, we hear him again after this, pleading with the crew of the PT boat to return his stolen surfboard. It was a terrible change, I thought: it changed him from this operatic character who, as Willard observed, you knew was going to survive everything to this weak guy who has been bullied by a few passersby and has been reduced to begging to get his stuff back.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:54 AM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


The other type are more wanky indulgences by directors who want to show you all the cool stuff that they didn't stuff in the theatrical release. This would be ...Lord of the Rings...

The Director's Cut of LOTR wasn't really wanky indulgences by Peter Jackson. Or perhaps, it was more Tolkien's wanky indulgences than Jackson's. It actually stayed truer to the books than the Theatrical version did. I prefer the Director's Cuts of LOTR personally, but you have to commit to a lot of couch time to sit through them.
posted by Hoopo at 10:54 AM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


60 some comments and noone mentions 'Extended Editions' I loved the slow pacing of LOTR extended editions, watched back to back. But pasting all the alternate endings one after another at the end of the return of the king had me saying 'What the hell' after the first two. And 30 minutes later in the middle of the sixth denoument I was becoming exhausted. Well more exhausted than watching a marathon 12 hours or so of movies.
posted by darkfred at 10:57 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


But pasting all the alternate endings one after another at the end of the return of the king

Ever read the book? There's more endings.
posted by Edison Carter at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was just pleased that nowhere in the extended versions was there footage of Tom Bombadil.
posted by jscalzi at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Donnie Darko really is the worst Director's Cut like, ever.

Cause, here's the thing. I really like Donnie Darko. I like its tone, a very fragile, soap-bubble like tone of dreamy stoned suburban languors filled with slow motion New Wave and spikes of strangeness that no one actually comments on or explains. I like that. I like the suggestion of a larger story going on but we are limited to Donnie's perspective and his role as a pawn to the larger forces of aliens or the FBI or High School or, whatever. It also looks good, slightly tweeked presentation that helps the unreal atmosphere so when characters start spouting philosophy it feels less indulgent and more part of this larger package.

So what does the Director's cut do: It says fuck that shit. The steady dreamy pacing? Gone! The casual strange shit happening? Explained away in the driest of monologues! Pointless scenes that disrupt flow and add nothing? SO MANY! Oh and that tone? Totally fucking gone, replaced with lots and lots of EXPOSITION EXPLAINING THINGS VERY CAREFULLY. It also looks worse for some reason. Whoever edited together the movie the first time clearly found that there was this interesting and unusual story buried in a lot of indulgent crap and by leaving things unsaid or just refusing to explain them, they build on each other so the film doesn't feel frustrating because it doesn't explain anything, as opposed to half-heatedly explaining a few things in the most dry, wooden way possible.

But more than anything else, it ruins the opening sequence. I like the musical sequences in DD. They are tight as a drum, edited to the music almost perfectly and tending to communicate a lot of information in a two minute burst. I was pretty much on board form the start, with the bike riding scene - which in the Director's Cut had new music put into it cause that's what Kelly originally wanted but the scene was not re-cut to fit the new music and it's really glaring and annoying cause it's not syncing up the beats and action and it adds nothing and takes away a lot. And that's the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko is terrible.
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2012 [20 favorites]


Some of those 60 comments did actually mention the extended editions. Did you read them?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]



I haven't seen it but I understand that, regardless of what he fixed in two, he didn't bother to make it actually jibe with Superman I as it was released, so Superman does the same time-reversing flight at the end of both films.


This is true. What it does do is remove all the slapstick that Richard Lester put into it. When the super-villains send out a hurricane of super-breath, no longer is there a guy eating an ice cream cone but whoops, away goes the ice cream into someone else's face hahaha. And no longer does a guy in a phone booth remain on his call while the phone booth falls over and hoes zooming down the street hahaha.

There are also a few scenes where he could not recreate his original vision from the existing footage so he scrapes it together where he can. One of the missing scenes from the Lester/theatrical version is an alternate way for Lois to test whether or not Clark is Superman. By chance, it had been the screen test for Margot Kidder, so it was filmed from several angles on the set, and enough existed to reconstruct a version of the scene. It just looks odd that for one scene Lois has a different hairstyle and Clark wears different specs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


brundlefly: I have a copy of the "Bootleg Edition"/Directors Cut of Army of Darkness -- one of many different versions of that movie -- and I don't like it at all. I prefer the S-Mart ending in the US theatrical release to the post-apocalyptic UK ending, and all of the added scenes just throw the pacing off for me.

Oh hell yes. The Army of Darkness Director's Cut was the movie that tipped me off that sometimes the studios are right. The DC of AOD is not as much fun, not as well paced, and the ending off-key.

The "bonus movie" that comes with Anchorman includes the entire main plot of what the movie was originally supposed to be about. SWEET HOLY FUCK they made the right decision to jettison the whole "Alarm Clock" bank robbers angle. What actually hit theaters is much cleaner, funnier, and better than the original would have been. (Not exactly a "Director's Cut" issue, but a vision of what almost was.)
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 11:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The original did have this, and it gave it the film noir, detective trope feeling.

Exactly. I'm going to stand up for the voiceovers in Blade Runner (though I like the ending in The Director's Cut better). I know that people into feeelm think that voiceovers are the worst thing EVER, but, honestly, it worked in Blade Runner for the very reason that the whole "film noir, detective trope feeling" created the right mood in the movie.
posted by deanc at 11:02 AM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I kind of like the driving off into the sunshine ending... Yes, there are many ways in which that does not fit, and yes it's footage from another film. but it's such a release after the gloom of the city.

It's too bad they won't live, but then again, who does?
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on April 3, 2012


ODiV: "So, how was the "Renegade" version of Highlander II anyway"

It made stupid bad into just bad. Fortunately it is "Renegade", so I can still pick on Highlander fans about Zeist being cannon.
posted by charred husk at 11:05 AM on April 3, 2012


I have a copy of the "Bootleg Edition"/Directors Cut of Army of Darkness -- one of many different versions of that movie -- and I don't like it at all. I prefer the S-Mart ending in the US theatrical release to the post-apocalyptic UK ending, and all of the added scenes just throw the pacing off for me.

Yeah, the "Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness" DVD I bought must've been this, and it removed literally every single thing about the movie that gave it its campy character.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:05 AM on April 3, 2012


it removed literally every single thing about the movie that gave it its campy character.

I can't even begin to comprehend how the camp could be removed from Army of Darkness
posted by Hoopo at 11:08 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I prefer the Director's Cuts of LOTR

If you watch them through once with the Director's/Writer's commentary, they become even better IMO; you then understand why many of the decisions where made to cut, or not cut, or to move things between one movie and another.

On Blade Runner, I am OK with the voice over version, but absolutely cannot stand the fucking happy ending that goes with it. It just seems...atonal...to the rest of the film.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:15 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


fortunately it is "Renegade", so I can still pick on Highlander fans

This is funny to me because IIRC, Highlander aired at 4-5pm EST on USA, right after Renegade.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:16 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dark City's director's cut removes the spoileriffic opening narration, making the explanation/reveal later on have a lot more punch.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


WE USE YOUR SPOILERS AS VESSELS.
posted by griphus at 11:23 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Back before DVDs got big, I spent a princely sum on a bootleg tape of the mythical 6-hour cut of Dune. Needless to say, I was ripped off as it turned out to be the regular version except interspersed with concert footage of the Police.

Muad'Dib
You don't have to take all that red spice
posted by malocchio at 11:24 AM on April 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


This thread makes me very happy.

I have an ex-boyfriend who, when asked what his top five movies were, responded, "Blade Runner, the director's cut; Blade Runner, the theatrical release; (insert two other versions of Blade Runner - I am not enough of a film nerd to know them by name); Broadcast News."

I said, "Wait. So your top five movies are..... Blade Runner and Broadcast News?!"
posted by missrachael at 11:30 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


My vote goes to The Abyss. An entire subplot that gave the film true legs was completely removed from the cinematic release.
posted by secondhand pho at 11:30 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's nothing, Roman Polanski completely forgot to script and shoot half of the Ninth Gate.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I heard argued in an interview with a United Artists honcho that directors' cuts were largely put on the map by Heaven's Gate.

It was an interesting idea, that people were anxious to see if the movie really was that much of a stinker, and how someone like Michael Cimino could have gotten it so very wrong, coming off of his huge success with The Deer Hunter.

The director's cut showed, of course, that Cimino had gotten it right. It was 'just' commercially unviable in that monster form.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:35 AM on April 3, 2012


Dark City's director's cut removes the spoileriffic opening narration, making the explanation/reveal later on have a lot more punch.

Oh, and please, please, PLEASE watch it in Blu-Ray. It is stunning.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:43 AM on April 3, 2012


Is a ’director’s cut’ ever a good idea?

like everything else, sometimes yes, sometimes no.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on April 3, 2012


A director's cut is a fine idea, assuming we mean a real director's cut. i.e., the edit or edits supplied to the production company for review.

We once made the mistake of watching a "director's cut" of a Michael Mann film. Assuming it meant "what the directory wanted to ship as the definitive edit" rather than "the general idea of how the director wants things to go". The latter includes all sorts of unfinished blocking shots, continuity problems and flubbed lines.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:47 AM on April 3, 2012


Leon/The Professional is a good example of poor director's cut and the best filmic example I know where less is more. All the extra scenes make it worse. In the theatre version, leon rescues mathilda and then the next scene we see with them he's waking up in the bed (with clothes on). There's good ambiguity in that. You wouldn't need them to have had sex, just having acknowledged love and they sleep in the same bed. The other extra scene of her lying about being 18 just rings false, and learning to be an assassin (that she's nonchalant when he shoots a drug dealer in front of her) and his story of how he came to america (which is referenced before but ambiguously). All examples of unnecessary detail that detract from interest. Mathilda's passionate speech, suicide attempt, all just silly as well- although there's a bit where she comes across as more disturbed which is ok.

Also, it's a big motivating part of the both versions of the film, but I think that the 4 year old boy character is a mistake. It adds unnecessary tragedy which even though Portman cries a bit, is not really given enough impact. It would have been enough that although Mathilda hates her family, actually she loves them anyway. That would be more interesting
posted by leibniz at 12:12 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm with The Whelk, no director's cut can be worse than Donnie Darko. It is so bad it actually does make the original cut (which I adore) objectively worse. It proves that Richard Kelly only made something as good as Donnie Darko by accident (and possibly via Drew Barrymore, who had staked her reputation as a producer behind it.)

It's not just the destruction of the tone, or the needless scenes (five minutes of them playing Outrun, you know! To foreshadow things! Awesome!) and the way in which the exposition is done, but the explanation itself is just mind-reelingly bad. Meaningless and completely devoid of value. I have, thankfully, forced myself to forget the details of it, because that is the only way in which one may enjoy the film again.

Never watch the Donnie Darko director's cut. It only exists to make people sad.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:25 PM on April 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


It adds nothing and removes everything. It is staggeringly bad.
posted by The Whelk at 12:29 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cinema Paradiso, I think, is the weird example of a movie that was better in the studio's theatrical cut (Harvey Weinstein cut around 1 hour) than in its original version. The studio version is a nice love letter to the cinema, while the original director's version is a nice love letter to the cinema followed by a one hour boring soap-opera.
posted by Omon Ra at 12:36 PM on April 3, 2012


There are worse things than the director's cut of Donnie Darko. Try the director's commentary on the director's cut of Donnie Darko.
posted by arruns at 12:37 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Related essential reading: Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Potential Perils of the Director’s Cut," originally delivered as a lecture (warning: Rosenbaum's personal site is amazing and exhaustive, but also butt-ugly and poorly-formatted). FYI, Rosenbaum worked on the restoration (which he refuses to call a "director's cut) of Touch of Evil, which is featured in a few of the Best lists linked above.

I see a few folks here are mentioning Mann. A lot of his films circulate in different versions. There are several different cuts of Manhunter and Thief, and God knows how many of The Keep. Many of them have subtle changes that alter the tone. I've seen both the theatrical and the DVD versions of Manhunter, and the theatrical version struck me as more mysterious while the talkier DVD version came off as more paranoid.

In that Rosenbaum piece, BTW, he mentions one film with a notorious difference of length between the two available cuts: Jacques Rivette's super-paranoid Out 1, which circulates in a 5 hour (!) version subtitled "Spectre" (as in, it's the ghost of Out 1) and a 13 1/2 hour (!!!!!!) version subtitled "Noli Mi Tangere" (Latin for "don't touch me"). An 8 1/2 difference has got to be some kind of record, especially since the "short" version is so long to begin with.
posted by alexoscar at 12:39 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Try the director's commentary on the director's cut of Donnie Darko.

I don't know anyone with a stomach that strong.
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on April 3, 2012


I'll second Secondhand Pho's nomination of The Abyss.

If you've read the book, "They must'a done somethin' to us" just doesn't cut it.
posted by Brackish at 12:46 PM on April 3, 2012


Out 1: Noli Me Tangere is crazy long, but it is somewhat episodic, or at least divided into "episodes" or parts. If I remember correctly (it has been years since I've seen it), he even periodically does the equivalent of a "previously on" to recapitulate what took place in the last "episode."
posted by Falconetti at 12:47 PM on April 3, 2012


Out 1: Noli Me Tangere is crazy long, but it is somewhat episodic, or at least divided into "episodes" or parts. If I remember correctly (it has been years since I've seen it), he even periodically does the equivalent of a "previously on" to recapitulate what took place in the last "episode."

Yeah, I saw it a few years ago when they toured the print of it. From what I understand, the intention was that the long version would run on TV broken up into episodes, which is why they have that "previously on" thing going on. I don't think it ever ran on French TV as intended, but was aired that way on Italian TV; for a while, the only way you could see it was from a bootleg made from a home-taped Italian broadcast (link goes to one of my favorite scenes in the movie).
posted by alexoscar at 12:52 PM on April 3, 2012


I've actually only seen the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko. For me, the thing that ruined it was reading an interview with Kelly.

My interpretation of the film was that it was basically Donnie's last moments of consciousness in that time from between when he was crushed by the jet engine to the point where he actually died. A little gift from his subconsciousness. Which, to me, explained the stuff in there that was both dream-logicy and also kinda stupid -- see, IMHO, a lot of that felt like something a particularly bright 15-year-old would have thought of for a story... something an adult Donnie would have rejected as being kinda lame or obvious or whatnot, but the immature Donnie would have still thought was pretty cool. Stuff like the teacher putting his obvious crush next to him in school basically BECAUSE it was an obvious crush. Other really obvious wish-fulfillment and whatnot with Donnie becoming the Hero and Popular Kid and all that stuff.

I ended up really, really liking the movie.

Until I found out that, no, everything was supposed to be taken at face value. The lame dimension jumping and whatnot was all supposed to be real, and Donnie DID save the universe or what the fuck and yeeeeeaaaaaaaaah.

Goddammit.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Try the director's commentary on the director's cut of Donnie Darko.

I don't know anyone with a stomach that strong.


No, seriously, it's stunning. Apparently Richard Kelly not only wanted everyone to grasp that the ending of the film has alternate-universe Donnie (?!?!?!?) using his telekinetic powers (?!?!?!) to pull the falling jet engine through a hole in the space-time continuum from the primary universe so that he dies and thus saves the life of primary-universe Donnie who is a comic book super hero. It's patently obvious!

Also Kevin Smith sits in with him for the whole commentary and is just as Kevin Smithy as you fear.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll agree that AN Redux is plenty long, and that the French plantation sequence is off pace, but it's so fantastic in other ways. I love the way that -- I assume -- they used the hurricane-damaged sets to evoke the dead-ender desperation of the holdouts. I don't think the film needs a love story, but the sequence between Willard and the cigar-smoking war widow is evocative of the symbolic seduction of the US by the French into taking on their cause. The political discussion at dinner is all on point and while it offers little insight to true scholars of the film is definitely key to the overall point of view. Yes, it is fantastic -- but then, AN is an adaptation of a novel from the 19th century about Africa, not a true history of Vietnam. So much of the film has these elements that are meant to be unreal and psychological, like the spear battle where Chief is killed, wherein they have gone so far upriver they are encountering primitives, which is both about the clash between Western and non-Western civilization, but also about the journey into the nether reaches of the human psyche. (Tiger sequence, same thing.) If you think of the movie from these points of view, and the production history suggests you should, then the redux additions are not jarring at all.

I'm surprised to learn the role that The Wild Bunch played in developing the concept of the director's cut. That movie is one of my favorites, specifically from having seen that cut when it was finally released to the public.

For LOTR, I'll say that I think the director's cut both obscures and highlights, in different ways, how the story was stitched back together from the time when they were planning it as two movies, particularly visible with the changes relating to Helm's Deep.

(Donnie Darko? Why is everyone discussing that After Last Season-esque genre exercise?)
posted by dhartung at 1:01 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


OH GOD. That's enough to retcon the original cut into a bad movie.

Oh man, I have to watch the light play on Jake Gyllenhaal's neck for a few hours to calm down.
posted by The Whelk at 1:02 PM on April 3, 2012


Dude don't shit on After Last Season. It is a magnificent specimen.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought I wanted to see the 5 hour director's cut of Until the End of the World until I actually saw the director's cut...
posted by armacy at 1:10 PM on April 3, 2012


I heartily recommend the deity's cut of AI. The theater got hit by lightning just as he was pleading with the image of the blue fairy to make him real, as he began to shut down. The emergency lights went on, the projector went off and the movie ended. Almost enough to make me believe in divine intervention (I kid, I kid).

It was a brilliant movie.

I then went and saw the ending of it.

I've regretted it ever since.
posted by Hactar at 1:12 PM on April 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


I heartily recommend the deity's cut of AI.

Guess it took divine intervention to make it watchable, eh?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:18 PM on April 3, 2012


Oh. Nevermind.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:19 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the ending's defense, that movie was made awful already by the inclusion of Manic Robin Williams.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


its just an example of her!
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on April 3, 2012


Peter Dinklage mentioned a director's cut of the 2003 film Tiptoes in an interview with the New York Times Magazine.
“Tiptoes” stars Kate Beckinsale and Matthew McConaughey as a couple whose relationship runs into trouble when she learns that his entire family are dwarves. As she struggles with the fact that the baby she’s carrying may also be differently sized, she is reassured by her brother-in-law, played not by Dinklage (he plays a friend) but by Gary Oldman in, according to the trailer, “the role of a lifetime” — on his knees, with a harness to shorten his arms and a hump under his shirt. Gary Oldman, that is, plays a dwarf. “There was some flak,” Dinklage acknowledged. “ ‘Why would you put Gary Oldman on his knees? That’s almost like blackface.’ And I have my own opinions about political correctness, but I was just like: ‘It’s Gary Oldman. He can do whatever he wants, and I’m so happy to be here.’ ”

I told him I was impressed that he would defend “Tiptoes,” a movie that seems, on its face, ridiculous. “It was a lovely mess of a movie while we were making it,” he sighed. “I saw the director’s cut, and it was gorgeous.” That two-and-a-half-hour director’s cut was shown at a film festival in Austin, Tex.; the director, Matthew Bright, was reportedly fired shortly afterward, and the movie was recut. “The people who fired him ruined the movie,” Dinklage insisted. “They made it into a weird little quirky rom-com, but with dwarves.” He looked gloomy as he recalled this. “It was sort of an amazing idea for a movie, but the result was what we were fighting against — the cutesiness of little people.”
posted by BobbyVan at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm with The Whelk, no director's cut can be worse than Donnie Darko. It is so bad it actually does make the original cut (which I adore) objectively worse. It proves that Richard Kelly only made something as good as Donnie Darko by accident (and possibly via Drew Barrymore, who had staked her reputation as a producer behind it.)

I thought that the Director's Cut was basically a futile exercise in, "how can we stitch together a unitary movie narrative that provides all the background material and doesn't rely on all the ancillary material that was on the original film website?"

It didn't seem like a "Director's Cut", exactly, as much as an attempt at trying to sell DVDs to people who weren't going to be interested in reading all of the other stuff that went along with the film.
posted by deanc at 1:37 PM on April 3, 2012


Interesting to see where this went. I loathed the director's cut of Donnie Darko for all the reasons others have given; it actively sucked the joy out of the original for me. Admired Apocalypse Now Redux. I liked the original Blade Runner when I saw it in cinemas at 14, and the 1992 Director's Cut, and haven't got around to watching the 2007 version that's sitting in a metal-cased box-set on my shelf. Bought the director's cut of Until the End of the World some months ago after reading some positive online comments, but again, it's sitting on the shelf.

I remember liking the director's cut of Dances With Wolves at the time, which introduced some ambiguity that tempered the noble savage tendencies of the original, but we've had a DWW hate-on here not that long ago so I'll move quickly on...

The ones that intrigued me in those lists (and the comments in the other thread that led me to find them) were the less obvious ones, like Kingdom of Heaven, Daredevil and Alexander, none of which I've seen yet in any cut. I'd even be up for giving a full-length Heaven's Gate a try.
posted by rory at 1:45 PM on April 3, 2012


Oh, and the 100-minute cut of The Wicker Man (1973/2001): yes, yes, absolutely yes.
posted by rory at 1:52 PM on April 3, 2012


Man, I am really, really confused about the various releases of Blade Runner.
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 AM on April 3 [+] [!]


Just assume that whatever you think is completely and humiliatingly wrong and you should be in the ballpark.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dark City's director's cut removes the spoileriffic opening narration, making the explanation/reveal later on have a lot more punch.

Interesting. However, isn't everyone who's going to watch these movies already going to know what's going on?
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on April 3, 2012


I love every version of Blade Runner far more than I should, but the theatrical one the least. I did get lucky enough to see the first time they showed the "director’s cut" at the Director’s Guild theater (or something like that) in Hollywood way back when. I could not have been more excited, I’m still slightly aroused.

Donnie Darko is a funny case. I had people telling me "you have to see this". Not overly excited kids, middle aged men like myself. One was so impressed he bought me a copy at when we walked by a store. It was the Director’s Cut, which he had not seen. I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I didn’t want to insult them, but WTF guys? My friend couldn’t believe I didn’t like it, and thought I was just being a dick about it (not an uncommon position for me when it comes to movies) until he saw the Director’s Cut. I’ll never know if it was a good movie or not, it’s been ruined.

I’ve had far more movies ruined than enhanced by the director’s cut, and tend to think I should watch the regular version first. Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin were both so long they ceased to be funny and became endurance tests. My wife just kept asking "is this almost over?".
posted by bongo_x at 2:06 PM on April 3, 2012


Interesting. However, isn't everyone who's going to watch these movies already going to know what's going on?

Not necessarily. For example, my girlfriend (now wife) had never seen Blade Runner and I made sure when we watched it, that we watched (one of) the Director's Cuts.
posted by Falconetti at 2:07 PM on April 3, 2012


FWIW I thought Donnie Darko was rubbish too, without seeing the Directors cut.

(Didn't think that much of Dark City either)
posted by Artw at 2:08 PM on April 3, 2012


Dark City's director's cut removes the spoileriffic opening narration, making the explanation/reveal later on have a lot more punch.

Interesting. However, isn't everyone who's going to watch these movies already going to know what's going on?


Not if you’re me. I have such a horrible memory that I can’t remember what it’s about despite seeing it several times, and never remembered on the previous viewings. It’s always new!
posted by bongo_x at 2:08 PM on April 3, 2012


FWIW I thought Donnie Darko was rubbish too, without seeing the Directors cut.
(Didn't think that much of Dark City either)


I can't remember whether I watched the director's cut of Donnie Darko or not but whatever it was I did not like it at all.

Dark City has like 3 cool parts in it. The photography is pretty nice I guess. Not a mind-blower like some people would have you believe.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:12 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not if you’re me. I have such a horrible memory that I can’t remember what it’s about despite seeing it several times, and never remembered on the previous viewings. It’s always new!

By any chance are you a new personality every night? I have an idea what might be going on.
posted by Edison Carter at 2:17 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dark City has some of the best examples of my favorite Movie Lighting: yellow-y urban exterior light.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of like the driving off into the sunshine ending...

FWIW I thought Donnie Darko was rubbish too, without seeing the Directors cut.

(Didn't think that much of Dark City either)
I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.
posted by deanc at 2:26 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the director's cut of Donnie Darko, because I thought it was a boring, silly movie, and the director's cut confirmed that it pretty much sucked but was cut away into a "mysterious" skeleton. Oh, snap.

I also like both cuts of Blade Runner. I can't get over how hilarious the voice-over is: "I'd had a belly-full'a killin'..."
posted by stoneandstar at 2:27 PM on April 3, 2012



I kind of like the driving off into the sunshine ending...

FWIW I thought Donnie Darko was rubbish too, without seeing the Directors cut.

(Didn't think that much of Dark City either)

I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.


That theatrical cut of Dune? I really, really like it. Like, intensely.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll give Dark City another shot sometime, but I tried watching it on Netflix a while back and got about 10 or 15 minutes in and...no. It was a dark 90s movie in the bad way--the "we're intense dudes with long trenchcoats" way.
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you put The Matrix and the more standard drama-y parts of Requiem for a Dream in a blender you would get exactly Dark City.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:43 PM on April 3, 2012


The director's cut that I really, really did not like was Cinema Paradiso: The New Version. Which for me is a sad irony because it's one of my all-time favorite films, and for years and years I wondered if Salvatore ever found Elena. I guess I imagined a spiritually renewed Salvatore going back to Rome and somehow finding her. (There are tantalizing stills over the end credits that appear to be, or at least I remember being, images of a grown Salvatore and Elena, together.)

Then come to find out that


****SPOILER ALERT****


he did find her, but the reunion was pretty much anticlimactic and depressing (except I guess for the fact that he finally gets to sleep with her). And just to tilt the film even further towards the bitter end of bittersweet, we find out that Alfredo basically was responsible for some of the greatest misery and loss in Salvatore's life -- manipulating Salvatore even more than he does in the original cut -- just to ensure that he'd leave town and become a filmmaker. Which is problematic in a bunch of ways, and also (for me) pushes Alfredo over the edge into being kind of a lunatic.

On top of everything else, the revised story pacing really throws off what originally was a tight last act that built to a smooth emotional crescendo culminating in one of the most beautiful final scenes in movie history. The director's cut feels off -- I guess because I've just been traumatized by what used to be Salvatore going home, making peace with his past, and watching Alfredo's sublime gift, but is now Salvatore going home, having his heart kicked into a thousand pieces, and oh, before you leave, here's Alfredo's reel of film clips.

The tears we see running down Salvatore's face as he watches the reel of romantic film clips have a very different meaning, now that we see that Alfredo destroyed his chance to be with his one true love so he could go to Rome and make a bunch of movies. Great. The end.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you put The Matrix and the more standard drama-y parts of Requiem for a Dream in a blender you would get exactly Dark City.

I'd like to be hooked up to brain monitor that let me see whether I care less about the characters in Dark City or Inception.

Both are movies that are technically quite well made, but terribly cold and emotionless, and not in an interesting way at all. They're just boring.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:50 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't mean it as a compliment.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:53 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


KEEP IT DOWN, HATERS
posted by Edison Carter at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen the directors cut of Avatar? I;m curious to know if it does anything with the awful mess that is the first 15 minutes.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on April 3, 2012


I was actually unaware that such a cut exists.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on April 3, 2012


The worst thing about Avatar was Sigourney Weaver's Avatar wearing a Stanford shirt. Why? Just, why? That took me out of the movie for at least 15 minutes.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:59 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was actually unaware that such a cut exists.

Well, it's not the most popular of movies around these parts... apparently there's a couple of DVD versions.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on April 3, 2012


Dark City gets a bad rap because the writing was so deeply flawed (and because we tend to be so deathly allergic to cheesiness), but there's a great movie under the scratches and stains and I love it. I saw it a few months ago and wrote about it on Google+, so I'll just copy and paste that:
I watched Dark City for the second time in thirteen years last night. There was a lot of awful dialogue, poorly-integrated CGI, and clumsily-handled thematic treatment that my eleven year-old self didn't pick up on, but I don't care. The ways in which the spatial anomalies of the city are concealed, the way that those anomalies are just under the surface for the city's occupants, who are only prevented from catching on by the periodic destruction and reassignment of their memories, the delocalization of the city by the superimposition of several centuries' worth of architectural styles, and the disturbing subversion of a stock Hollywood ending are remarkably done. Not to mention its most striking images have stayed with me since I watched it -- especially the slideshow, and the doctor's lesson sequence (I'm still trying to figure out why that one in particular affected me so much). It's funny to me that the movie is much more satisfying when I ignore the topic it professes to be about (the nature of identity as distinct from memory, which could be an interesting question, but you wouldn't know it from watching the film) in favor of its looming subtexts. I'm so glad I saw it again.
posted by invitapriore at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen the directors cut of Avatar? I;m curious to know if it does anything with the awful mess that is the first 15 minutes.

Not much. There are a few shots on Earth, which is pretty crummy. On Sam Worthington's first trip out, there's an added scene where they stop by a school-for-Navi that soldiers had shot up for some reason.

I will say the BD is just gorgeous, though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:18 PM on April 3, 2012


Another for Kingdom of Heaven. I really enjoy the movie - though I couldn't tell you why - and wish they'd release a not-four-disc-set of the director's cut on DVD (as I have no blu-ray).
posted by curious nu at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2012


The Butterfly Effect (fuck you, I like nonlinear stories even if they do star Ashton Kutcher) had a director's ending and a studio ending. Director's ending was a logical extension of the movie's logic, and also eyerollingly obvious. Studio's ending wimped out, and was cheesy as all hell. I don't think anyone wins in that battle.
posted by cereselle at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2012


Logical extension of logic. Yes, I DID mean to say that. Shut up.
posted by cereselle at 3:36 PM on April 3, 2012


I think my favorite director's cut ever, was Blood Simple. Just a change in the soundtrack, and some tighter editing, removing about 3 minutes of footage.
posted by St. Sorryass at 3:40 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is a ’director’s cut’ ever a good idea?

Yes.
posted by George Lucas at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Payback has a very interesting Director's Cut. The entire third act was replaced and it changes the entire tone of the film. I think it comes out for the better, and not just because it has a natural color palette unlike the original.
posted by wierdo at 4:06 PM on April 3, 2012


I am trying to finish a movie right now and am in the midst of thinking and arguing about the issue of multiple versions of the same material. First of all, just knowing when to call a movie done is a big, daunting task. I am making a music documentary that spans 20 years. I have 4.5 terabytes of information to piece together and no script. I could keep putting different combinations of audio and video together until the heat death of the universe. Many of those combinations would be good, some of them would be great. How do you know when you have found the right one? You just gotta call it done at some point and move on with your life.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2012


"Fanny and Alexander" is one of my favorite films. For years, the shortened version was the only one available in America. One of the best days of my life was when I broke the shrinkwrap off the director's cut (312min) DVD. I love it. I'll never watch the short version (181min) again.

It was originally filmed as a miniseries for Swedish television. Bergan grudgingly cut it for theatrical release.
posted by grumblebee at 5:53 PM on April 3, 2012


I am trying to finish a movie right now and am in the midst of thinking and arguing about the issue of multiple versions of the same material.

If you’re working on that Chris Whitley movie you need to get that shit finished.
posted by bongo_x at 6:25 PM on April 3, 2012


Anyone seen the director's cut of Legend? yea, I bought the dvd "ultimate edition" (what? Tim Curry is awesome) and watched all the interviews and such - apparently the wonderful spooky tangerine dream soundtrack was the second soundtrack recorded for that film. The first was much more classical orchestral sounding. There was also a bunch of the princess' lines cut out. In the interviews, Ridley Scott complains that as they were doing a test screening, the audience wasn't reacting well, and they heard some giggling. They ended up having to change the soundtrack and make the film darker in tone, though what he had actually wanted was for the film to be a beautiful fairy tale. He complained that the test audience wasn't taking the film seriously, and he thought that he smelled dope smoke in the theatre. Having watched the director's cut, I'd like to thank those stoners.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:09 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't even know there was a director's cut of Payback. Have to check that out.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:56 PM on April 3, 2012


Has anyone ever read the original script for Anhedonia, a.k.a. Annie Hall? That movie was written and shot as a five-hour murder mystery with a romantic sub-plot, and it was only after a first cut was assembled that it was drastically re-edited into the movie we know today. I've never been able to find a copy of the original script, but it would be a fascinating Grail to peek into.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:23 PM on April 3, 2012


Another for Kingdom of Heaven. I really enjoy the movie - though I couldn't tell you why

Hey bro, it's OK to like movies that everyone else claims to hate. I enjoyed it too. "I say he is innocent of the charge. If you say he’s guilty, then we'll fight, and God will decide the truth of it."
posted by Brocktoon at 8:54 PM on April 3, 2012


I like the director's cut of Donnie Darko, because I thought it was a boring, silly movie, and the director's cut confirmed that it pretty much sucked but was cut away into a "mysterious" skeleton. Oh, snap.

Fair enough. It's a cult movie and by nature not going to be for everyone.

But for those of us who love it, dear god do we love it. Just a dreamy tonal masterpiece, like David Lynch with less alienation. Beautifully cast (Mary McDonnell, in particular, but really everyone in it, including a fun small role for Seth Rogen before he was a leading comedic actor) pitch-perfect in the details of its time and place, and, yes, the mystery of it, which works because even when it is weird, the viewer still feels like they have a foot on the ground with it, even if by the end they realize they don't.

In a way, it is most similar to The Shining, in that most of what happens on-screen cannot be said to be strictly integral to "the plot," and in fact it would be hard to discern what "the plot" in it really is. It is, generally, a coming of age story, of a sort, done gorgeously. The fantastic elements (Frank, the time-spears, etc.) fit firmly enough within Donnie's psychosis, while giving us enough reason to believe they are prophetic, to not only not need explanation, but to brusquely rebuke any.

My own interpretation was that Donnie had sleepwalked away from his own death, and that his not dying caused massive problems, and that he was living the ensuing month on borrowed time. The "world ending" was Gretchen's death, which makes sense in a teenage mind, and that he put her body in the car and drove into the timestorm to make sure that she would live, though he would die, even if she'd only know him as that doomed kid who died the day she moved to town. How much was real and how much was in his mind didn't matter, as it wasn't the sort of film which would be made better by knowing such things for certain.

The director's cut, instead, answered every question which was better off unanswered with the equivalent of "Be sure to drink your ovaltine." It was like of Lynch released a cut of Mulholland Dr. which, scene-by-scene, explained how it was really all about Papist aliens setting up an attack on Hollywood via an aspiring actress who was brainwashed by the CIA. No matter how well that backstory meshes with what we saw, it would make everything worse.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:55 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Das Boot has been released in multiple versions--Wikipedia has the details. I recently acquired the 293 minute version, but haven't watched it yet. What are y'all doing this weekend?
posted by neuron at 10:32 PM on April 3, 2012


Whatever you feel about the theatrical cut of Dune, avoid the "Special edition" of it at all costs

I made the mistake of trying to watch that once. I gave up after about the fifth time it cut to a slow pan across a poorly executed painting of the Imperial court or whatever while the most boring voiceover ever read out halting paragraphs of irrelevant galactic history. Horrible.

I'm with the majority on the Donnie Darko director's cut. Another film mistake I made once was watching The Box, by the same guy, which puts beyond any doubt DD's overwhelming debt to the faceless studio film-surgeon who hacked out all of the stupid parts.

Hey, apparently there was a Donnie Darko sequel called S. Darko. Anyone seen it? It sounds like a serious contender for the worst sequel ever, up there with Starship Troopers 2 and Starship Troopers 3.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:24 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The mid-2000s director's cut of Alien--which is really more of a director's revisiting of something he did twenty-five years ago--isn't greatly different from the original but despite restoring some cut scenes, it's shorter than the original. There's bits where you can feel a new tightness in the editing. Scott also took advantage of having the movie transferred to digital to rework the grading: the darks got a lot darker. Not essential, but an interesting finessing of an already fine piece of work.
posted by Hogshead at 4:37 AM on April 4, 2012


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Has anyone ever read the original script for Anhedonia, a.k.a. Annie Hall? That movie was written and shot as a five-hour murder mystery with a romantic sub-plot, and it was only after a first cut was assembled that it was drastically re-edited into the movie we know today. I've never been able to find a copy of the original script, but it would be a fascinating Grail to peek into."

It's worth finding a copy of Ralph Rosenblum's book, When The Shooting Stops. He talks about Annie Hall being an unreleasable mess that had to be massively reshaped in editing although as I remember, not much of the murder mystery stuff actually got shot.
posted by octothorpe at 5:42 AM on April 4, 2012


I've never been able to find a copy of the original script, but it would be a fascinating Grail to peek into.

According to Woody Allen on Woody Allen (I think, I don't exactly remember where I read this) the murder mystery plot was re-tooled into Manhattan Murder Mystery.
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on April 4, 2012


Has anyone seen the directors cut of Avatar? I'm curious to know if it does anything with the awful mess that is the first 15 minutes.

What specifically about the first 15 minutes do you find to be an awful mess?

I liked the opening scenes in the theatrical release, and I felt like the director's cut / special edition was not an improvement in that regard. It added a scene on Earth wherein the main character gets into a bar fight, of sorts, which is simultaneously sort of pointless and also ruins the reveal of his handicap when they arrive on Pandora. Not that it was that much of a secret (it gets revealed within the first 15 minutes or so), but I personally sort of liked the little "aha" moment there.

The rest was forgettable. Much of it was alluded to already in the theatrical release (the abandoned school, as was mentioned, for one). The little added things I noticed really did not feel like they added much depth.
posted by tocts at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2012


I actually kind of feel the same way about Donnie Darko as I do about Dark City. Both movies present a plot or a theme that is very obviously supposed to be the main attraction, and it's kind of botched in both cases, but they're worth watching because they so perfectly hit it out of the park with the stuff they do to set up and shade the less-interesting parts. The Whelk nails Donnie Darko's successes, I think.
posted by invitapriore at 11:37 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, boo.
posted by invitapriore at 11:38 AM on April 4, 2012


octothorpe: Yeah, it was from Rosenbaum's book that I first heard about it. I was under the impression that most of it was shot, but it sounds like no one even has a copy of the original script.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2012


I actually kind of feel the same way about Donnie Darko as I do about Dark City

Not so much for me, although I haven't seen Dark City all the way through yet so I may be off. Donnie Darko had engaging characters and an engrossing 80s suburbia setting and some hilarious, memorable dialog. "What are feces?" "Baby mice". I mean, come on! That's gold. I wouldn't change a thing about the theatrical cut with its tone and humor and ambiguity and all the questions it leaves unanswered. Well, except maybe Drew Barrymore. I got no problem with her normally but she was really terrible in Donnie Darko.

But yeah, I also agree with the Whelk and Navelgazer, and they can both envy me for still not having seen the Director's Cut.
posted by Hoopo at 2:33 PM on April 4, 2012


There are worse things than the director's cut of Donnie Darko. Try the director's commentary on the director's cut of Donnie Darko.
This, a thousand times. Fifteen minutes in it was clear to me that the director had no clue what the movie was about. Anything good about that movie was apparently accidental.

And while the director's cut of Leon/The Professional doesn't add much, it also doesn't detract much, and gives us extra footage of Leon and Mathilda being Leon and Mathilda, so on balance it was a plus for me. Same thing with Besson's cut of The Big Blue - didn't really add much to the narrative, but it gives us more Jean Reno/Jean-Marc Barr - and not much more Roseanne Arquette, so... double win.
posted by dilettanti at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2012


Didn't Dark City have some sort of silly Boss Fight at the end? Has it been removed in the director's cut?
posted by Anything at 5:17 PM on April 4, 2012


No it still has Floating Jesus Magic Man
posted by The Whelk at 5:25 PM on April 4, 2012


Yeah, and the act of projecting their mind force violence boners involves leaning forward really intensely.
posted by invitapriore at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2012


I really enjoyed most of that movie and was fairly turned off by the fight scene that felt really out of place. I vaguely remember reading somewhere years ago that the director himself wasn't particularly keen on that scene either and I was hoping that the eventual director's cut would fix that.
posted by Anything at 5:40 PM on April 4, 2012


Thats one of those movies I can't really be objective abut cause I want to crawl inside and live in it.
posted by The Whelk at 5:41 PM on April 4, 2012


Can't blame you.
posted by Anything at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2012


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