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Better The Devils You Know?

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Mark Kermode | 13:05 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

There have been a lot of enquiries about the forthcoming BFI release of Ken Russell's controversial 1971 masterpiece The Devils on DVD. Here I explain which version will be on the disc and ask are director's cuts always a good idea or is the original release usually better?

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Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
The Devil is in the Details - Mark talks to Stephen Woolley about The Devils

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Very keen on getting this. Thanks Mark for the recommendation. :)

  • Comment number 2.

    The thing about Directors Cuts Mark is that they are more truthful to what the director's vision wants to be. I haven't seen the extended version of The Exorcist yet, only the original and that was one film that really deserves its place in cinema history.

  • Comment number 3.

    Of course there's no hard and fast rule for every film. But I think generally if the scenes were left out for any other reason other than being cut by sensors, they should be left out.
    I think directors cuts etc are interesting from an academic point of view but certainly in cases like The Exorcist and The Wicker Man...the shorter, more concise cuts are easily better.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the validity of Director's Cuts very much depends on the situation. If it's a Blade Runner type scenario, where the version released was not the director's vision, then I think they are worthwhile and usually better. If it's like an Aliens type of thing, where it's basically a bunch of footage cut for length shoved back in, then I think there is an argument to be made for them being a curiosity at best, a thing of real film buffs.

    There are of course times when they fall completely flat - the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko, immediately springs to mind. A version of the film that robs the original of all its mystery and ambiguity.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Mark,

    Probably the best example of a Directors cut both enhancing and ruining the film at the same time is of course.......Blade Runner.

    The Good:
    Taking narration away and removing "that ending"

    The Bad:
    Putting scenes in to insinuate that the Deckard character is a replicant.
    Now lets get this one straight....yes Ridley Scott always intended the character to be a replicant but...and here's the thing....it DID NOT get approved.
    Harrison Ford acted the role like he was a human and there is no dialogue in the film that supports the theory.

    The fact that Ridley had to add scenes that insinuated that Deckard is a replicant says it all really. A case of a director butchering a film & changing its meaning.

    Now we have a load of Sci Fi geeks adding their own stories about the character i.e. he's actually a new new replicant without the strength so not to give himself away and blah blah blah.

  • Comment number 6.

    One example of a Director's Cut that took away from the original is Luc Besson's "Leon The Professional." The suggestive pseudo-sexual relationship between Matilda and Leon would have made audiences very uneasy, and it's clear from a marketing and societal standpoint why those scenes were cut, but ultimately I think the shorter version is better, mainly because the method used to kill Gary Oldman's character was explained earlier on in the movie, so when it finally happened there was no surprise; we were already expecting it. Furthermore, I feel as though things were over-explained in the original, leaving less for the viewers imagination. The innuendo is more powerful than explicit explanation.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think sometimes, a director's cut can show the director's chops in an unfiltered way. For instance, a classic example is Donnie Darko. Watch the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko, it's so good, I'm probablt going to do that now, and then watch Richard Kelly's directors cut, and see where it falls down.
    Incidentally, whilst were on the subject of director's cuts, sit down and watch the theatrical cut of Death Proof (which was rubbish anyway), and then watch Quentin Tarantino's directors cut, and all it is, is 20 more minutes of girls talking.

  • Comment number 8.

    Depends whether we're talking 'Extended Cuts' or 'Directors Cuts'. Many an additional scene has been added over the years (well, since DVD anyway) and billed as a 'Directors Cut' but actually the director was happy with the original edit.

    Ultimately, I believe the definitive cut is the edit which the Director would have released without interference from ratings boards, studios, or focus groups. If the director had the option to include original material and chose not to do so, then I don't think you can call adding additional scenes as a Directors Cut. This is why I find commentaries so important when watching Deleted Scenes as it often explains the reasons for the cuts.

    A great example of this is with the deleted scene from The Sixth Sense - where M. Knight Shyamalan decided to pull "his favourite scene" from the film (where Willis talks to his wife in her sleep). Though he loved it, he acknowledged that the film worked better without it, and therefore didn't wish to reinclude it in a Director's Cut, instead leaving it only as a deleted scene.

    Though I find excluded scenes an interesting curio, I remain a firm believer that a film is the product of a Director's singular vision and should therefore be enjoyed (or endured) in that director's intended edit.

  • Comment number 9.

    apocalypse now redux: how to turn an amazing film into one massive drawn out yawn.

  • Comment number 10.

    oh, and Alien 3 directors cut - massive improvement on what was a pretty lame, shallow and difficult cinema release

  • Comment number 11.

    i hate the redux apocalypse now with a passion, the plantation scene just drags the film to a stop. i also kinda prefer the shorter uk version of the shining.

  • Comment number 12.

    On the subject of Leon, I completely agree with Jonah. I thought the expansion of the movie detracted from it, as it meant the relationship between Mathilda and Leon was more specified, and it also sagged in the middle a little.

    Are there any films where the directors have taken away rather than added? Leon was pretty slim in the first place; Donnie Darko, however, I would imagine would benefit from being cut down, and can see how an expanded version might make it worse.

  • Comment number 13.

    How about a new director's cut of Star Wars...

  • Comment number 14.

    Making a movie longer, rarely makes it any better. The extensions, for the most part, only appeal to the diehard fans.
    I make an exception to the Extended Lord of the Rings, since it was always filmed that way and was always planned to be on the extended DVD - it wasn't as an after thought...

  • Comment number 15.

    Directors cuts can be interesting but I cant think of one I rate above the version that I originally saw with the exception of maybe blade runner although I actually liked the version with the voice over.

    It seems to me that directors cuts fall into two groups

    The first being an excuse for the film company to rerelease a film that has already been out for a while and convince people to buy it again by slapping directors cut on it or vanity projects for fallen directors to go over their previous more popular work. I would question the relevance of either of these options

    The second is films like the devils, Brazil or touch of evil which have been taken off the director by the studio and butchered. In this case I think the directors cut at least lets you see what was intended by the director when he made

    In general though unless its a film that has been butchered I much prefer to have these scenes as deleted scenes included in the dvd/blu ray package with an explanation from the director as to why he didnt feel the need to include them.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Dr. K,

    My opinions of 'Director's Cut' (DC) over the years has been a hit and miss affair; some have been fantastic, explaining more story whereby making more sense, but some have been a disappointment and you're are left with the feeling that it was all a Studio market scam.

    Nevertheless, here are the best and worst DC films in my opinion:

    Aliens, Terminator 2, The Abyss, Avatar, Stargate, Independence Day, Troy, Das Boot, Gladiator. Although Alien3 isn't technically a Director's Cut, the Studio Cut was a lot better than the original, albeit, NOT having the Alien burst through Ripley's chest at the end was a huge mistake; it would been the perfect film if that scene was in the final cut.

    But not all Director's Cut are great. Alien, which is one of my all time favourite films, was a disappointment. Having it shorter than the original run time meant Ridley Scott took out more than he put in. Also, the DC version Blade Runner was not as good as the original.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm a strong supporter of director's cut. I noticed some people here were bashing the Redux of Apocalypse Now, I much prefer the that version, I LOVE LOVE the French Plantation scene which I think takes a nice break from the insanity but is equally surreal and I think it's actually paced better than the original.

    Obviously Brazil, Touch of Evil, Blade Runner, Alien 3, Kingdom of Heaven are brilliant director's cut or reassembled cuts that make the films much much better.

    I do think the original cuts of Alien and The Exorcist are better than their newer cuts however.

  • Comment number 18.

    When it comes to my favourite films I almost always want more, even at the expense of timing and pacing issues. I could happily sit through additional hours of Alien even if it was just shots of the ships' interior
    Are extended version better? No, just different. I think it's great when a release contains both versions of a film;Theatrical and directors'
    Just last night I watched the extended version of the exorcist. I had never seen the scene of Regan crab-walking down the stairs before. The hideous noise she made as she opened her bloody mouth at the bottom of the stairs sent shivers to my core!

  • Comment number 19.

    I think the later extended version of Heaven's Gate turned a mish-mash of a film into a near masterpiece. But hey, that's just me...

  • Comment number 20.

    The US version of Once Upon A Time in the West was heavily cut to shorten it, the studio thinking that US audiences wouldn’t sit through the three hour version released in Europe. I haven’t seen the cut version but can’t see how it could be an improvement on the original?

    Nowadays I tend to see ‘director’s cut or ‘extended version’ on a DVD case as being a simple marketing ploy by the studio; I suspect some movies now have scenes shot just to be added onto an extended DVD version (just as some scenes seem to be shot simply to provide a good ‘trailer moment’).

    Original endings included on a DVD can be of interest though, as endings are reshot if they don’t please a test audience.

    The Devils. I have seen it – the X rated version - and it’s about time this film got a DVD release. Warner’s censorship of this film is inexcusable; The Devils is a minor British cinema classic as well as being a good example of the ‘avant garde’ of cinema of that era. (Reed’s best performance too.) Given how singular and iconic (if self indulgent) Russell’s vision could be I’d like to see the missing footage (Rape of Christ) included as the ‘director’s vision’ cut

    Given how bland, safe and unadventurous British period costume drama (Attonment, Downton Abbey etc) currently is I expect the Daily Wail might manage some ‘shock horror’ headlines all over again at The Devils DVD release.

  • Comment number 21.

    My original copy of Bladerunner on VHS is still my favorite (voice over and all) and I can not wait for the Devils in it's original X rated glory, directors cuts always seem self indulgent just like when you go to a gig and the band drags out their number 1 hit with a lengthy and unnecessary guitar solo.

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't mind Director's cuts. They certainly have their place and, it seems, that whether this version is better or not is really a matter of taste - with the caveat that sometimes directors needlessly alter a film.

    Others have commented on Bladerunner. While I understand their analysis I actually think that the "final" cut is my preferred version of the film. Whether Ford acted "as a human" is irrelevant as far as I am concerned.

    What concerns me is the constant revisionism.

    Instead of constantly rehashing old material I would prefer to see directors make new things and take their art in new directions. Let the film(s) become part of history and move on.

    I also object to cuts solely as a money making ploy.

    The time when you see the value is when a director releases a version to correct what he sees as something terrible done to his work (a la The Devils). And sometimes you see a cut released which is substantially better than the original, isn't an extended cut per se, and isn't by the director. I saw this on the Alien 3 alternate version. Clearly a revised version needed to be included in the boxed set to complete it. Normally I object to that sort of thing. Fincher, because he had had such a bad time on this project washed his hands of it, but the people who made that version state clearly that they hoped to show something of Fincher's intent. And in that I think it succeeds and that cut is well worth watching.

    So are Director's cuts better or worse?

    The answer is both.

  • Comment number 23.

    Although Michael Mann is one of my favourite filmmakers, I didn't care for his director's cut of Manhunter.

    It added an unnecessary scene at the end in which Will Graham visits the family who would have been the Tooth Fairy's next victims. But what was really disappointing was the way he messed with the colour which was significantly toned down and muted in some scenes. This resulted in the film losing some of its 80s garish neon menace that adds to the disturbing atmosphere of this masterful serial killer film.

    It also undermines Dante Spinotti's stunning cinematography. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Have to disagree with ubiksbrain and Ian Schultz.
    I only recently had the, overall, pleasure of watching the Alien quadrilogy for the first time. Only a few weeks after, I saw the director's cut of the worst of the four, Alien 3. In my opinion the extended, director's cut was even worse than the original release. It was overly long, made less sense and had its best bits cut out.

  • Comment number 25.

    Everyone is talking about director's cuts as longer versions with more content, but what bout Tinto Brass' original edit of Caligula? Surely if that was released it would also count as a Director's Cut.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Mark!

    I think it depends on the film, a film like Apocalypse.Now! works also as the longer version but a film like Terminator 2 doesn´t. Films with lot of action don´t usually work as a longer version cause the pace and the rhythm changes too much.
    5 versions of Blade Runner is a bit too much I think. Just removing the narration was enough I think.
    Many directors cut versions have some good scenes and some that are quite ridiculous or boring, so the best version would be the viewers own version I guess.
    I like The Exorcist - directors cut but the ending when Kinderman and the priest start talking like it´s just an ordinary day ruins the mood.
    One of my favorite Dir. Cuts is Luc Bessons Leon - the french version. The film has a big part of the film and story added that is missing from the theatrical release.
    The Shining U.S. version is better, Nicholson doesn´t go insane so quickly in it, some scenes should still be left out of that one too.
    There are films that I want to see every version and scene from them, so it´s good they are available.

  • Comment number 27.

    the only justified director's cuts are were the studio or censors butchered the movie and disrespected the directors vision hence a directors cut of brazil or freaks is essential. the ones to be ignored are " here's the self indulgent version i would release if i didn't have to share it an audience" type ie donnie darko or the quick we're releasing a new dvd/blu ray lets add in some deleted scenes to get the fans to fork out again" ie alien

    i wonder if mark has seen either director cut of watchmen or sucker punch and have they done anything to allow him to re-evaluate the artistic genius of zack snyder ha ha

  • Comment number 28.

    As a graphic designer, producing creative work requires boundaries of some kind to define what you are creating. It gives goals and structure to a highly artistic and subjective way of putting things together to create meaning, exactly the same as a film.

    Directors often talk about having to remove their favorite scene. Sometimes, this has to be done for everything to fall into place. Sometimes I've had to change work against my will. But looking back, some of those calls were good ones.

    Directors cuts, particularly long ones, feel like the director is simply given a golden ticket, making this less clear, and less meaningful. We all know what happened to Star Wars episode 1-3.

  • Comment number 29.

    One of my favourite films is Apocolypse Now...but it has to be the extended 'REDUX' version, otherwise it's almost like watching a different film! Having said that, there are, of course, cases whereby the extra scenes can ruin a film - I'm thinking 'Gladiator' here. However, I also recently saw the extended cut of Aliens and it really does add to the overal feel of fear and sense of isolation of the film...so I guess it just depends. Mark.xx

  • Comment number 30.

    If i like a film then more is always better for me, as a devotee of 'Lawrence of Arabia' i couldn't watch the shorter cuts without noticing the missing scenes.
    I would have loved to have seen the full nine hour version of Abel Gance's 'Napoleon' if only once, althought when it comes to Von Stroheim's 'Greed' i can sympathise with the studio.

    As for 'The Devils' in the absence of the directors cut this is the next best thing.
    If this proves popular Warners might view the directors cut more favourably, i hope i gets a theatrical release, if for no other reason than to show that there's far more to the film than headlines would suggest.

  • Comment number 31.

    Re: The Devils, I've already seen the British X-rated cut... I think. Wasn't that the version that was released on UK VHS in the mid-nineties? I was always under the impression that it was, and that the only real problem with that edition was that it wasn't in the correct aspect ratio. Anyway, I watched the video, I was thoroughly impressed with the film, and I'll be first in line to pick up the new DVD. As everyone except Warner Bros bureaucrats can guess, this DVD will NOT provoke assassination attempts, death threats or even protests, so hopefully in another year's time (or less) we'll get a sexy Blu-ray edition of the complete director's cut.

    Re: director's cuts, it's a tricky question. For me, the version of the film that audiences should want to (and be allowed to) see is the thing that the director produced before it was shown to censors or frightened movie execs. In the case of The Devils, that would be the British X-rated version (uncensored by the MMPA) with the extra inclusion of the Rape of Christ scene (which Warner Bros removed almost instantly).

    However, most director's cuts seem like greedy cash-ins or neurotic self-harm. Take one of the most controversial examples, Star Wars (meaning Episode 4). Ever since (and including) the 1997 re-release of the original trilogy, George Lucas has periodically returned to those movies, adding new special effects, alternate shots etc. It would be easy to dismiss this nonsense as money-grubbing cynicism, but I think there's more to it than that. I think that as CGI continues to grow in sophistication, George Lucas believes his films must grow in 'sophistication' too. His films can never just 'be'. Therefore, the ultra-mega-super special edition of Star Wars could well be the 'ultimate' example of a director's cut but, at the same time, the one that audiences should feel the most contempt for. I think they already do, though. I don't think anyone but George Lucas thinks that his behaviour since Return of the Jedi's original release is in any way reasonable, healthy or even sane.

    There are other examples of tedious directorial bellyaching. I'm ambivalent towards Ridley Scott's 2007 final cut of Blade Runner for similar reasons as Star Wars; surely the 1991 director's cut of that film was 'final' enough (voice-over removed, ambiguous ending restored etc)? I ain't seen The Exorcist: The Version You've (and I've) Never Seen!, and I don't want to. The original is good enough for me. Apocalypse Now Redux is half the movie Apocalypse Now is.

    But as a matter of principal, an honest director's cut (like the 2004 Kermode-and-Russell prepared Devils, like Criterion's DVD of Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev) is a very important thing indeed.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is the rape scene anywhere near being restored? What I mean is: should we jump on this release or hang fire until the super duper Bladerunneresque definitive cut?
    Advise Mark!

    Sort of leads into my feelings of Director's Cuts. Everyone to their own, but when a movie is special, great, well loved, or had a tortured upbringing, then I'm all for Director's Cuts; if the original cut is there too, even better. When it's a blatant cash-in, released within months of the original release, a la South Park: Bigger, longer and uncut, then I'm upset.

  • Comment number 33.

    To start with this is probably the definitive link on the upcoming Devils DVD news, it's well worth a read:

    http://criterionforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=11778

    Thanks Mark for blogging about this. Why didn't you mention the BFI are also banned from releasing a blu-ray too? Obviously which cut it is takes precedence but plenty are going to be annoyed it won't be in High-Def too.

    I'm definitely getting the Devils DVD but I know I'll likely have to buy it again one day (Director's Cut) and maybe even again, when the Blu-ray comes out.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To answer your question. The Devils: DC isn't an afterthought (as you know), so yes it definitely should be released this way. The Original British cut only exists because the BBFC wouldn't allow it to be released any less cut.

    The Exorcist however most definitely is and should never have been released, if it wasn't so popular. I like the spider walk scene but the CGI is woeful in places and completely unnecessary.

    An example of where a Director's Cut does greatly improve a film is Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut. When I saw it in cinemas, I thought it was good but it felt like big chunks were missing. The Director's Cut fixes this and it flows a lot better. Ridley Scott himself choice to cut the film for cinemas, the DVD implies he now regrets doing this.

    Of course the absolute worst example is Star Wars. Every bloody release Lucas changes them a little. For 14 years from 1983 to 1997 we all loved the original versions and no one thought they needed changing. Since then we've had the 1997 Special Editions, the 2004 DVD versions and now the 2011 Blu-rays. All slightly different from the last.

    I like some of the additions but a lot of the CGI is so hamfisted. Why is Jabba the Hut ridiculously smaller in A New Hope to how he is in Return of the Jedi? He looks completely different. There are plenty of other examples.

    You made 3 great films Lucas but have now turned into a hack (is Bret Ratner your son?). LEAVE THEM ALONE!

  • Comment number 34.

    @ LSJShez: As I understand it (through that link I post above) Warner USA wish the entire film didn't exist and outright refused to allow the rape of christ scene to be shown.

    They've even had to remove it from the documentary Mark speaks of. In other words, I wouldn't hold your breath.

    Some useful YouTube links:

    * The Devils US Cut in it's entirety (see what Warner thinks we should all be watching): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIV_tamelMQ

    * Hell on Earth - The Desecration & Resurrection of "The Devils" Part 5 of 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG7uJrAm0NE. This is the part with full "The Rape of Christ" footage.
    * Hell on Earth - The Desecration & Resurrection of "The Devils" Part 6 of 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSf430ltqeE. This one includes the other bone masturbation sequence. I cannot see what the fuss is myself.

    This is the documentary that will be on the DVD but is uncut here. The other parts are also on YouTube.

  • Comment number 35.

    Correction "bone masturbation" sequence, there's only one scene. It's also cut from the Original British X-Rated Cut.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's an interesting topic where for me Alien 3 comes to mind.

    A lot of people were unhappy with the theatrical version. I know that the extended version is technically not a directors cut but I still found it to be inferior. I thought the theatrical version of Alien 3 is very underrated, whule the extended version is overrated.

    Amadeus also comes to mind. The Directors cut was vastly inferior to the near perfect original edition, there was no need for it.

    A more recent example is American Gangster. The extended version is almost 20 minutes longer but all the extra scenes do is make the film 20 minutes longer, they added nothing.

    Maybe I've just had a bad experience with them, but my opinion is no point in them, unless the original was butchered by the censors and studio to beyond recognisable.

  • Comment number 37.

    The only directors cut I have ever seen that is better than the original has to be my all time favourite film: Cinema Paradiso.
    The genius of if is that is completely changes your understanding of the central relationship of the film - i.e. that between Alfredo and Salvatore. I loved Alfredo from repeated viewings of the original cut, as it appears he was Salvatore's best friend and did everything to help him. Yet the crucial added scenes in the directors cut make this a much more ambiguous relationship. Alfredo thinks hes helping Salvatore, but this comes at the cost of him missing out on the love of his life. So you have to decide if he was right or wrong. The first time I saw the directors cut this completely blew me away, and I urge anyone out there who has never seen it to hunt down a copy.

  • Comment number 38.

    Perhaps Ridley Scott still isn’t happy with his cut of Blade Runner – given news reports that he’s currently working on some Blade Runner project. I used to think the film was better than the book was, but in fact, they are quite separate, especially as they lift so little from the original source material.

  • Comment number 39.

    Many are still waiting for David Lynch's full directors cut of Dune. The theatrical release is NOT the version Lynch's wanted nor is the televised Extended Cut, which explains a little more of the story. But in terms of quality of picture and editing it's terrible and Brian Eno's Prophecy Theme is missing.

    Also still waiting for a Director's Cut of Exorcist 3, and have it retitled, Legion.

  • Comment number 40.

    I wouldn't mind extended cuts if they were also edited. Extensions should improve, not distract.
    The first cut I saw of APOCALYPSE NOW was the redux version, which has a cool scene with Marlon Brando and the wonderful extension of Robert Duvall's voice echoing through the jungle, looking for his surfboard. HOWEVER, it also contains the sequence with the french ambassadors and the sequence in the planes with the playboy bunnies, both of which are boring and interminable. Extended versions should still be edited.
    Also, I love the extended cut of LOTR, but the beginning now "concerning hobbits" is far too happy-go-lucky, not to mention unnecessary and poorly handled.

  • Comment number 41.

    Another mention for Leon: The Professional. The original is a fantastic film. The director's cut removed any ambiguity there was about the relationship between Leon and Matilda. The film also becomes overlong and less punchy.

  • Comment number 42.

    Dear Mark,

    I attended earlier this year an uncut screening of The Devils at the Barbican. After hearing so much hype for this particular film it truly blown my mind. This is one of the most transgressive films i have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The rape of Christ scene isn't extended scenes which are simply deleted scenes which bring nothing to the message or piece of the film. The Devils is nothing without this scene.

    What i can't seem to understand is: An uncut screening in the Barbican is perfectly suitable yet releasing it to an adult audience on Video seems to be an impossible task. BFI of all people who have released films like: Salo which i believe has no artistic merit of any kind & In The Realm of the Senses-two of the most controversial films of their times in their full, director approved versions.

    Has there been any reasoning for the BFI not to release the 'uncut' version? The Devils "X" cut nor the full version warrant the term "Director's Cut" in my opinion because the film was butchered by the BBFC. Ken Russell always planned to have that scene in the film from the beginning. I strongly believe this comes down to Warner Bros not daring to give the BFI the true version of the film because of still childish fears of being called blasphemous.

    P.S. You right on The Human Centipede 2 but seriously wrong about ASF.

  • Comment number 43.

    In regards to director's cuts, why not, it’s not hurting anyone, if you prefer the original so be it, you don't have watch the the director cut, and now with DVD and Blu rays you get multiple versions of a film on one disc, so it makes sense to give hardcore fans something extra. Best Director's cut - Blade Runner, Worst - Apocalypse Now (it’s too long and it doesn't really add anything to what is a perfect movie anyway).

  • Comment number 44.

    There will never be a directors cut of Dune since that would involve Lynch going back to re-edit it and mentioning the film is probably the quickest way to end a conversation with him so you won't get him near an editing suite with the film (unless he was planning to burn it).
    Attitudes towards some directors cuts seem to depend on whether folks like the film as is or require more explanation and less left to the imagination such as with Leon and The Shining (such folks are also responsible for dodgy sequels to cult films that leave lots of unanswered questions (Cube for instance).

  • Comment number 45.

    I completely agree with dragliner78's take on the subject. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Jim Cameron's Aliens were both excellent examples.

    There are very few times when I have liked the director's cut better. I have always loved the original version of Blade Runner, but when I saw the 'director's cut', it was the rare instance where one additional 10 second sequence changed the entire film, both in meaning and plot.

    On the flip side of Ridley Scott director's cuts, Alien was diminished by the presence of the deleted scenes. It my mind, it gave far too much away. Not knowing what happened to crew members actually was far more powerful than seeing it depicted.

    I enjoyed seeing the director's cut of Brian Helgeland's "Payback" for the 'restored' color palette, but I could see why he was fired. The changes made to film did make the film more enjoyable. The fate of the dog was not as important to me as it was with the producers, though.

    The most appalling example of.. I can't even call it a director's cut... I think it was just adding deleted scenes... was in the movie Amadeus. The scenes have even been terribly placed in the film where one of the most important moments of the film is diminished (Salieri's reaction to being mocked by 'The Creature' at a party, now follows other scenes). Sometimes the editors know better than the directors.

    And while I'm on the subject of Amadeus... Last week you referenced (paraphrased) "Amadeus" when you said "Too many notes, your majesty" when describing "In Time". This is from the scene in "Amadeus"where the Emperor (who is musically retarded) ambiguously tells Mozart that his latest opera was lacking in some way. When Mozart asks what exactly was the problem so that he could correct it. The Emperor, of course, has no clue what to say, so one of the members of his court, suggests that there are "Only so many notes that one's ear can hear in one night"... And Mozart (the Genius) responds to the Emperor's court (the idiots) "So which notes do you want me take out?"
    You've taken the position of the idiots, Mark. You're far more clever than I, so I'll assume that this was self deprecation using an obscure reference that only some will pick up on. I can't see any other explanation (other than humor) where you would put yourself in the position of the CRITICS that were being portrayed as clearly wrong and ignorant. However, this possibly could explain your feelings for Silent Running in some small way.

  • Comment number 46.

    I personally prefer the theatrical cut of 'Aliens' to the 1990 Special Edition; the already armed-to-the-teeth USCM become even less jeopardized by the xenomorphs by virtue of the 'robot sentries' footage, of all the colonists that could've hosted the alien queen embryo it had to be Newt's father, and discovering that Ripley in effect chose her career over her daughter (deep space voyages are rather time consuming!) made her less palatable.

  • Comment number 47.

    While I consider Apocalypse Now one of my favourite films, the redux version suffers from the insertion of the French-Cambodian family. While this section is highly quotable, and to a certain extent you could argue the most theoretically motivated scene (inasmuch as a family is living in what seems as comfortable stability between to extremes of madness; the bridge and Kurtz) it removes the momentum of the film. As such the crescendo is diminished and a great film somewhat diminished.

  • Comment number 48.

    I like to see Director's Cuts of films where they are available as they are presumably the truest representation of what a director originally envisioned, but they are not always the best versions and in cases like Donnie Darko, end up spoiling the film.

    Kingdom of Heaven had entire chunks of sub-plot removed for the theatrical version and the Director's Cut of the film is much better as a result of these being put back in.

    There are other films however, where it doesn't work and extra scenes either don't add anything to the experience or have a negative impact (*cough* Star Wars *cough*).

    In my opinion, it varies from film to film. I don't think you can make a blanket statement that "Director's Cuts of films are always better" because that is quite blatantly not the case, however it is always worth finding and watching them to see what got removed from the theatrical version and perhaps being able to find out why.

  • Comment number 49.

    My good doctor,

    you often say so many films are half an hour too long. If everything were left to the director, wouldn't they all be an hour too long?

    (More power to the editors! Sometimes Auteurs are too close to the film)

  • Comment number 50.

    This is exactly the problem I have with Blade Runner... I like the 2 versions of it. And I like both the idea of Deckerd being a replicant and not being a replicant. And I like the movie as I first saw it, with Deckerd's narration, and without the narration. I don't like the so called happy ending, but it would never be happy. They would both die with in 4 years. This originates more then a movie, it almost creates two paralel versions of the same universe.
    On the other hand, what George Lucas did to the original Star Wars I did not like, because it wasn't making it better or more complete... or even different.
    So my opinion is this, just as long as all versions continue to be available, I believe they're all valide, whether we like them or not. According to Darwinian lore, and Darwin was a brit that used a portuguese rifle mind you, diversity is the key to a sucessful evolution!
    Movies with several versions are movies that survive the test of time, and that is the true test of survival in evolution.

  • Comment number 51.

    I always thought that directors cut of films where really just for fans of the original ( blade runner being the exception witch proves the rule ). if you loved it in it's first form there's the other version there to compare. If you liked apocalypse now then you may want to see the other versions. Same with all the films you mentioned. That's one of the ( lesser) resons that I hate the star wars special edition, it's like Lucas is trying to rewrite history.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think a lot depends on the director in question. I do like to watch director's cuts but they don't necessarily improve on the original.

    Take Donnie Darko, one of my all time favourite films. I was ecstatic when my wife got me the director's cut for X-mas but frankly it's not as good as the original. There's not a lot in it but the original has the edge.

    Or Apocalypse Now: I think the director's cut is very interesting and I was fascinated to see the footage of the French ranchers and the extra Kurtz material, but the extra scenes make the film drag and end up dissipating the energy - and frankly the surfboard scenes are ludicrous.

    And Blade Runner: yeah, losing that ending is good but (and yes I know I'm a heretic) I *liked* the voice-over. But then I think the unicorn scenes are good too and I like the way they imply Deckart is a replicant. Overall I choose the director's cut over the original for this film.

    Bottom line - there are no hard and fast rules; see both and take your pick on a case-by-case basis.

  • Comment number 53.

    Director's cuts should be bits that the director was forced to leave out of the final film that will add something to the film itself. I remember watching the original Exorcist and recently the director's cut, and I do not think the extra bits that were left out of the original theatrical release and have now been added actually detract from the film at all.
    At the other end of the spectrum is Lucas, who just cannot seem to stop himself from modifying the original trilogy. It's as if he has run out of original ideas and is going to keep re-releasing these films until the day he dies (and then we'll have the special commemorative edition with the latest changes he was making to them before he left). I have nothing against cleaning up the special effects and adding a bit more stuff in the background because technology thirty years ago was not good enough to let him do so, but I draw the line at adding dialogue, changing scenes and erasing actors to insert different ones. And don't get me started with the inconsistencies between the origial trilogy and the prequels... Yes, I feel very strongly about these films being messed with, I grew up with them, and I do not think that what Lucas is doing to them can be considered a DC at all.

  • Comment number 54.

    We've seen how George Lucas' kid-in-a-sweetshop attitude towards the placement of CGI in his old movies can make them over-the-top and lacking in character and substance. Lord of the Rings and, of course, Avatar were long, uninteresting films to start with, so why make them longer? To line the pockets of all involved in its release. The changes you make to a film should always be in the interest of improving the film and not adding extra footage to rake in the cash

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm with Likee on this. Director's cuts should be BANNED except in exceptional circumstances such as The Devils, where the director was removed from the loop altogether, as the vast majority of them are perpetrated by the Marketing Department flogging the horse one more time.

    Life is too short people, move on to the next movie, already! My favourite DC has to be Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock, 7 minutes SHORTER than the original!

  • Comment number 56.

    Firstly I must say that the Devils is one of my all time favourite films and I have seen it in various forms including the version you screened a few years back. But although the rape of Christ sequence was powerful and impressive. I don’t think makes THE DEVILS as a film any more perfect than it already is.
    Of course the king of directors cuts is Ridley Scott who vastly improved KINGDOM OF HEAVEN by adding an extra 40 odd minutes of the running time. But his other Directors cut films like GLADIATOR and ALIEN were excellent in there cinema cuts. The extra scenes should have stayed on the DVD extras disk
    Now to the controversy. BLADE RUNNER. Although there have been many different versions of this classic syfi. My personal favourite version is the original cinema cut. Yes, the one with the voice over. Before seeing the other various cuts I had always treated this movie as a science fiction Film noir, Think Sam Spade in Douglas Trumbull’s West world and I always will. Personally I don’t care if he’s a robot or not.
    My point is that with the exception of a few films. Recently most of the directors cuts brought out on DVD or Blu Ray have been to con us into re-buy the same movies again in the hope seeing a better more complete directors vision. Sadly this is rarely the case. “ I know I brought some of them”. If a director can’t for some reason, whether it be running time or rating show his full vision at the cinema he should be able to release his vision dvd as soon as the cinema run has finished. Not release the cinema version. Then six months later release the intended cut. Yes I know it’s a studio money making scam, but we all still fall for it.
    On a personal note could you get them to perfectly restore the long print of THE WICKERMAN. I have it with yours and Sir Christopher Lee's commentary. Its one of the best British thrillers ever made, you’d think they’d give it the restoration it deserves.

  • Comment number 57.

    I would agree with Ken Russell about the deleted scene from "The Devils", even today it really is "mind blowing". Its the insane intensity of the performances that really make it unforgettable and outrageous. Rarely do we get a chance to experience a film that has such an effect on an audience.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think the question you posit has several problems that results in an impossibility to settle on a yes or no answer. First off directors cuts have a checkered history where many influences produce a theatrical release either outside the directors hands or edited without their knowledge. The other problem is the constant perfectionist revision-ism (?) displayed by a handful of directors which results in their film being cut into a myriad of unintelligible ribbons.

    Another point to consider is the role of a director in the success or artistic merit of a film. 'We'; the cinema buff masses, would probably like to view all films as though the director hailed from the auteur school of film making but this is certainly not always the case. Often the screenplay has a huge role when it comes to the issues with directors cuts; a savaged screenplay can often produce worse results than a savaged reel.

    Ultimately there is no general rule for the quality of a directors cut as every contributors vision for the film is equally valid...but none more valid than the producers.

  • Comment number 59.

    Maybe if your a huge fan of a film then you get a bit of a rose tinned view that any addition to it will be better. I know I'd love any additions to a film I love like Trainspotting but to some one who just 'likes' Trainspotting, would the additions just be annoying, probably.

  • Comment number 60.

    I don’t think Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never seen was a director’s cut. It was Blatty’s cut. Or, probably closer to the truth, the “we can only justify this rerelease if we give the audience an extra incentive to shell out hard-earned cash for a film they’ve already seen”-cut. In your documentary about The Exorcist, Friedkin made it abundantly clear why those scenes were omitted in the first place. The version my grandparents saw in 1973 is the director’s cut. Aside from that, I think that we get used to a certain cut. I fell in love with the butchered but more readily available cuts of The Wicker Man and Dawn of the Dead. When my dad brought home copies of the “extended cuts” I was excited but those weren’t – and still aren’t – the versions I fell in love with. I also still prefer the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko!

  • Comment number 61.

    Firstly as a film fan I'm overjoyed that "The Devils" is getting a DVD release at all! However, I'm very disappointed as a U.S. Resident that this seminal work won't be available for us. So far the only DVD release of "The Devils" I've been been able to get a hold of in this country is an awful (and probably pirated) letterbox (at the credits and a few other scenes) version that has the quality of a second or third generation VHS copy. It contains 'The Rape of Christ' sequence but it is awkwardly cut in (i.e. the letterbox again). I guess this is the best us Yanks will have to work with for now...although I'm praying to the film gods that Criterion will pick it up.

    As far as Director's Cuts and/or Extended Editions go I'm usually for them. Some friends of mine consider me a masochist, but I love the Extended Cuts of the "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy. The extra footage, especially in the first two, gives so much depth to the characters and the world of the films that I just can't watch the Theatrical cuts again.

  • Comment number 62.

    I far prefer The theatrical Apocalypse Now to the Redux, it is a much tighter and more focussed film. I also prefer the original version of the Exorcist, however I do like all of the added scenes to the 2nd cut it is just marred by the silly effects added. The directors cuts of Star Wars are obviously in poor taste but Bladerunner is where it gets interesting. I do love the international theatrical release of Bladerunner and the Final cut also but not so fond of the others. My favourite 'directors' cut would be the workprint edition of Alien3, whilst not a finished directors cut you can see where Fincher was going and it gave the film so much more meaning than the butchered version first released. In fact Finchers alien3 is probably my fave of the series. Jim Camerons directors cut of Aliens however is only interesting for a second time viewer as the added scenes at the beginning give away the whole story and suck almost all the suspense out of the middle of the film.

  • Comment number 63.

    Director's Cuts can go either way, can't they? I mean, I liked David Fincher's cut of 'Zodiac' which was only seven minutes longer. I don't think it turned it into a better film because I loved the film unequivocally anyway but it added a couple of perfectly justified and interesting scenes for sadcases like me. I understand, though, that it's generally accepted that the theatrical cut of Giuseppe Tornatore's 'Cinema Paradiso' is better than the director's cut which is somewhat naff. Can't comment, haven't seen it at all but that's just what I've heard. However, I have recently watched the extended cut of Terrence Malick's 'The New World'. 'The New World' is my favourite Malick film but the longer cut perfectly emphasised and encompassed what I love and loathe about him. I still was affected by the stories in it but there are only so many shots of long grass that the average lonely film obsessive can tolerate and I was torn between; "but I love this film!" and "GET ON WITH IT!" I would stick with the theatrical cut on that front. I do prefer the Redux version of 'Apocalypse Now' though. And yes, I am quite excited by 'The Devils' release even though 'Women in Love' tested my patience towards the end.

  • Comment number 64.

    The 3 problems with the Donnie Darko director's cut are...
    1. It explains too much with those horrible The Philosophy of Time Travel excerpts.
    2. They messed the music up, INXS or Bunnymen? Bunnymen duh..., wouldn't have mind if they changed Duran Duran to the Pet Shop Boy's West End Girls which was the original scene was choreographed too.
    3. They should have only the scene of his parents at dinner which is genius but it shouldn't have been cut in the first place

  • Comment number 65.

    Regarding 'Director's Cuts' I have no problem with them and often watch them more than the cinema released version, providing the finished film is truly what the director invisioned. What i DON'T like is the constant releases of the same film each claiming to be 'the Director's Cut' as this is mearly a cash in often by the film companies.

  • Comment number 66.

    The mixed bag that is the Director's cut often pays off the when the film in question as been poorly treated and is in need of urgent attention - "Blade Runner" being the obvious choice - The directors cut of "The Wicker Man" and "Pat Garret and Billy the kid" for me are two of the best though the most interesting has to be Orson Wells "Touch of Evil" The film Restored after his death using the letter he wrote to the studio exec's explaining exactly how the film should be cut - Obviously we will never know if this cut met with Wells approval thought it is almost certainly as close as we will ever get to his vision - It is unfortunate we will never get to see "The Magnificent Ambersons" as Wells intended -

  • Comment number 67.

    The Devils on DVD in time for Christmas, who says there aint no sanity clause!!
    Ive seen the rape of Christ sequence, its wonderfully nuts,classic Russell ,shame not to have it in but doesnt change the plot or tone or message,or feel of the film so its ok with me for NOW!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Its coming out in March ,i should listen to teacher , got too excited

  • Comment number 69.

    Not mentioned yet, but the vastly redesigned Director's cut of "Daredevil" is universally considered superior to the original release - and it is a genuine case of the director refashioning what was originally intended.

    Another interesting one is "Star Trek TMP" which was released before the effects were finished. Robert Wise was recently able to commission new CGI effects (very much in keeping with what would technically have been created at the time). The result is certainly 'better'.

    Finally, didn't anyone else get a 'frisson' of excitement at the glimpse of the good old-fashioned RED 'X' certificate there? So much more impressive that the Chad Valley '18' thing we get today. I will always have a soft spot a for the 'AA' cert too ("Rollerball" will always be 'AA', not '15' to me). Why? Haven't a clue!

  • Comment number 70.

    A lot of my favourite films I actually haven't seen in the original cut, only in the extended or director's or unrated or redux or uber-coolio cut. Regarding the films released before I was born, I haven't seen the original versions of Apocalypse Now, Terminator 2, The Exorcist, and The Devils because it seems the newer cuts of these films are superior to the originals, or they at least get they're the ones that get the run-time on TV or DVD renewals.
    If I'd have been born now, about a decade from now I'd be watching the extended cut of Avatar because I most likely wouldn't have access to the original (although I'd like to think my ten year old self wouldn't bother with any cut of Avatar).

  • Comment number 71.

    I certainly think it's worth noting that many Director's Cuts are actually nothing of the sort, merely studio cash-ins labelled as such in order to shift more units. The '92 DC of Blade Runner is a prime example as Scott had no involvement in it. Some more recent examples include Lethal Weapon and Lock, stock...these are just "Extended Cuts" with deleted scenes re-inserted, often badly.

    But, of course, I agree with what a lot of others are saying, that even with the director's involvement the Director's Cut can be massively inferior, if not at least comparitively indifferent. Just like Donnie Darko. I can understand why Kelly created it but it just doesn't work. With the original he had to compromise, but through compromise creativity can still flourish. His DC version attempted to explain too much, it was over-long, it destroyed the mystique and bewildering charm of the theatrical cut which thrived on its ambiguities. But at least the original is still available.

    Another example is Aliens, although I think there are pros and cons. I appreciated the back-story involving Ripley's daughter because it added contextual weight to her militant protectiveness of Newt. I also enjoyed seeing the early scenes of the colony facility with its bustling, business-like vibrancy juxtaposed effectively against the eerie desolation that the Marines later discover.

    What I didn't like was finding out that Hicks' first name was Dwayne. Could've done without that. I mean seriously..."Dwayne"?

    As for The Exorcist I prefer the theatrical. Although I liked the scenes with Regan's first medical exam and the short exchange on the stairs between the priests I couldn't abide the constant crow-barring in of the demon's face. Seeing it so often for me diminished the effect of seeing it both during Damien's dream and later on during the actual exorcism. We didn't need to keep seeing it. And I didn't like the changes to some of the dialogue, like with the scene between Dyer and Karras in the latter's room - and when Chris was swearing down the phone trying to talk to her estranged husband and Regan overhears. why change that?

    Plus the different ending sucked. The original was far more powerful as it was never in any doubt that good had prevailed - the real melancholy was with the fact that Father Dyer had lost his friend and his loss is palpable. Adding some jolly banter with Kinderman was just so superfluous. Theatrical all the way for me.

    Although I think the Blade Runner DC is perfect.

    However, although I agree that the T2 DC is overlong (plus seeing the nuclear nightmare twice diminishes its power) it did come with the added bonus of having the violence uncensored, for the theatrical was absolutely riddled with cuts. Plus I thought seeing Reece in Sarah's dream was a nice touch.

  • Comment number 72.

    Good point about the Zodiac DC - only a couple of minor scenes but I love the black screen with radio audio clippets that comes half way through. Apparently this represnts the switch over from mono to stereo. I can see how this was cut though in relation to cinema release - I though would love the black screen in a darkened theatre for a few mins, a modern spin on the intermission perhaps?

    One thing of note is that there re fan forums on the Assassination of Jesse James...... calling for the full 4 hour cut to be released on dvd. I have mixed feelings about this as I think the theatrical is perfect and that an extra hour and a half might spoil my enjoyment of the original cut. Apparently though Brad Pitt and others loved this version and it was shown to a raptourous reception at Venice. I would like to see other scenes as a curio though, perhaps on a deluxe dvd/blu ray presented with a little more care maybe with the option of having them branched into the film. This is how I would have liked the Redux of Apoc Now to have been done as I felt it robbed the original of its pace but I really wanted to see those scenes. Donnie Darko DC though was naff.

  • Comment number 73.

    As someone who has never seen The Devils in either version, I think this is a missed opportunity. I want to see Ken Russell's original cut of the film and not some studio version that has been tinkered with.

    Why don't they release the studio and Director's cut on the same DVD? Oh I forgot, the studio want to make people double dip for a DC release in the future!

  • Comment number 74.

    Too many directors cuts appear to be just ways of generating extra cash for the studios by adding a couple of minutes and some inconsequential scenes. To me the directors cut of Aliens fits this bill.

    Where it can make a real difference is when a film fails at the box office perhaps due to over zealous editing by the studios. Ridley Scott's version of Kingdom of Heaven is to me a film that has really benefitted from the extra back story. It is still a flawed film but far superior in the extended version.

  • Comment number 75.

    Someone should get George Lucas to stop re-cutting the original Star Wars films. Everytime he does, it loses some more of the magic and joy I remember feeling as a 7 year old child in the Odeon cinema in Southampton in January 1978.
    Thanks George really appreciate that...

  • Comment number 76.

    The Devils - hurrah! Too bad we can't have the restored version, and also a shame it won't be out in time for Christmas (clearly I have a perverse sense of marketing), but great news all the same.

    Multiple cuts, and wildly differing opinions on same: it's worse than multiple witness accounts of the same accident, everyone sees something different, and their memories edit it even further. That said, my slight two penneth on:

    Apocalypse Now Redux: is a lesser film, not just for the tediousness of the Bunny and Plantation sections, but because this version sets the film too firmly in its historical context, diluting its universal themes. Apocalypse Now is a great film about the horror ("the horror! the horror!") of War. Apocalypse Now Redux is just another 'Nam movie.

    Blade Runner managed to be a classic despite its "flaws". The narration: upside, it invoked the noir feel of the story, downside it was included for the wrong reasons and created by unenthusiastic actor and director. The unicorn thing: I've hated this because 1. it looks like a bad out-take from Legend 2. it doesn't suggest Deckard's a replicant -- can't a human dream of unicorns? if you were going to create a "false memory" for a replicant, why would you use a bad out-take from Legend? I was always disappointed that The Ink Spots crooning If I Didn't Care wasn't in the film although it was in a theatrical trailer (although Vangelis did do a pastiche song One More Kiss on the soundtrack) -- maybe there's a version where Ridley buys the music rights... There comes a time when you have to say, just stop fiddling with it.

    Then there's the "Special Edition" of Hardware Wars which mocked the Lucas fiddling by adding superflous cgi, sadly a bit of an own goal joke as the charm of the original was the lo-fi appliance based special effects. I'm willing to bet there's a few things here that Doug Trumbull never did with a toaster.

  • Comment number 77.

    As long as all alternate cuts of a film (be they Original, Director's, Special or Extended etc etc) are concurrently available I don't think it matters.
    As long as you have access to the version of the film you like on DVD or, if possible, Blu-Ray then all is good...

    I recently watched 'The People vs George Lucas' and it brings up the subject of the original cuts of the first trilogy and their 'unavailability'. It's a decent documentary and well worth watching as it does try to balance every point of view out from both sides... for the most part.

  • Comment number 78.

    The Wickerman is perhaps one of the best British films from the late 60s and early seventies very much because of the work of the editor Eric Boyd-Perkins. His skills in the editing room transform the film from being a slow, languorous narrative that involves far too much plot and back story expostion (Howie is a strict presbyterian; Lord Summerisle's knowledge of horticulture is vast etc). into a tight well-paced film that focuses on the character of an innocent Howie and his manipulation by the pagan community of Summerisle. Lee argued that the cuts made to the original removed some of his greatest work on film. Just watch the director's cut and thank your lucky stars his overblown, theatrical performance was neutered by Boyd-Perkins.

  • Comment number 79.

    Look forward to it! And well done on The Review Show, good Dr. You gave The Wark a run for her money.

  • Comment number 80.

    Starting with the premise that most films could have the first twenty minutes knocked off and not really suffer I am often apprehensive about Director's Cuts but there is a difference between genuine restorations and 'here's all the other footage that I am rather precious about' releases... how many films has Dr K himself reviewed and stated that what was needed was a stricter producer and a pair of scissors?

    But, I think this is really a debate about auteur theory. I'd be more interested in a Director's Cut of a Lynch film than a Ridley Scott film, as one makes his own films and the other makes other people's.

  • Comment number 81.

    I much prefer the original cut of The Exorcist and think that William Friedkin was right that the scene with Karras and Merrin is sufficient without dialogue. William Peter Blatty may have written the story but it is evidently Friedkin who had the better understanding of how to truthfully adapt it to film. While there are some issues with the narrative of the original cut without the second medical scene, I don't personally think its presence adds a huge amount to the overall impact of the film.

    In contrast to this, however, I recently purchased the 25th anniversary edition DVD with 'The Fear of God' documentary to replace my failing VHS copy, and was horrified to find that it had been heavily cut. It is no longer a documentary but a disconnected series of interviews. Pity really, because the original is far better...

  • Comment number 82.

    I think it depends on the what happened with the theatrical cut. If the director gets their way and is allowed to film their vision then the theatrical cut is the directors cut and no further action is needed. If there is a Brazil-esque argument then I prefer to go for the Directors cut. Otherwise you may end up with a money making exercise that adds nothing and spoils what was there (looking at you there George)

    I do think that if we really like a film then we hope for a directors cut which will give us "more" to enjoy. It doesn't necessarily make it a better film we will just prefer it because it adds more depth or backstory and is something new to watch.

  • Comment number 83.

    Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven" had a Director's Cut edition. Yes, it is very long, but it turned Kingdom of Heaven from a film that was only okay to a masterpiece and a truly neglected film.

  • Comment number 84.

    Easily my favourite 'Director's Cut' of recent years is Ridley Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

    The additional 45 minutes of footage turns a beautiful but incoherent battle film into a rich, deeply felt and genuinely epic-feeling film. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it may be my favourite Ridley Scott film overall.

    Sure, not much can be done about Orloondo Bland, but it is still the very best performance he's ever given. And he's surrounded by so many fine actors his general wishy-washiness doesn't really ruin the experience.

    It's a truly great film, and the fact that it got gutted so badly by Fox would have driven most other directors to retirement.

  • Comment number 85.

    After hearing and seeing you harping on about this film for what seems to be - and probably is - years now, I have to say that I can't bloody wait to see it! I think Oliver Reed is a captivating presence on screen. His unpredictable personality really does bleed into his art, and it shows in his performances, which, for me, always gives his characters that added edge.

    One more thing. I watched the Exorcist for the first time last year with my housemate, 'the version you've never seen', which is a fairly redundant title pour moi, and have this to say:

    1) It's now my favourite horror film, ergo one of my favourite ever films.
    2) The spider walk is not stupid. For me, the fact that it happens in a very unexpected manner, and is only about 4 seconds long, just made it all the more creepy. I think, with most horror, it's the stuff that the Director doesn't dwell on that stays with people the most.
    3) The face of the demon flashing up those couple of times, which I'm told is not in the original, scared the crap out of both me and my housemate. The first time it happened, foxes in the park next to my house began screaming (and they do scream) which only added to the effect.

  • Comment number 86.

    GOOD CUT, BAD CUT.

    ALIENS & THE ABYSS -director cuts are the ONLY way to watch these films. THE ABYSS in particular just doesn't work in it's theatrical version. In fact, it's ending is completely silly by comparison. ALIENS puts a number of scenes back in, some action logic and some character stuff that nicely fleshes out Ripley current situation.

    WATCHMEN -again, the directors cut is the ONLY way to get through this one. Yes, the film has problems but the extra 20 odd minutes really do help sell the plot complexities and, strangely enough, it just doesn't seem as long (even though it clocks in at just shy of three and a half hours, the pace is much improved).

    BLADE RUNNER -directors Final Cut version is a masterpiece of contemporary Sci-Fi cinema. Enough said.

    BRAZIL -Gilliam's original directors cut is, once again, the ONLY version to watch and is, much like the afore mentioned Blade Runner, a modern masterpiece and still Terry's finest work to date.



    Now, the worst indulgences of a director cut must go to the following -why did they bother / it was already great- films.



    DONNIE DARKO -A great mystery completely ruined in it's directors cut version. Although, if you've been subjected to his directors cut of SOUTHLAND TALES then you know what pain really feels like. Shame on you Richard Kelly, shame on you!

    ARMY OF DARKNESS -I love this film, it's great fun in it's US theatrical version (the S-Mart, "hail to the king baby" ending) but even Sam Raimi has now gone on record admitting that his directors cut version, whilst retaining his original preferred 'time travel' ending, is, in hindsight, way to baggy. How many skeletons do we actually need to see being detonated?

    AVATAR -The complete opposite of his useful and necessary additions to both ABYSS and ALIENS. Adds next to nothing and is just an excuse to print even more money. Really Jim?

    Finally, any 'directors cut' where the marketing department has taken to launch / champion a 'new' version that carries a directors cut banner and is so clearly nothing of the sort, perhaps an alternate version at best. ALIEN 3 you now stand corrected as a 'work print version'. David Fincher's version will likely as not never see the light of day, but I'm sure he no longer cares.

  • Comment number 87.

    The term 'Directors Cut' leans towards a full blown acceptance of the directyor as the auteur of the film, and hence where a directors version is released it generates interest, but not always to good reception. For example, I was v eager to see Ridley Scott's cut of Alien (a Directors Cut actually shorter than the theatrical version) - the most prominent change being the adding of the 'cocoon' sequence. But for me this version was not as good as the original I'd seen in 1979.
    But on the other hand the discovered Peckinpah cut of Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid turned a slightly baffling film into a masterpiece of modern cinema.
    So I think it becomes a personal issue whether recut versions improve or spoil a film.
    Personally, I like the the extended version of The Exorcist, the spider walk scene adds a really terrifying moment at just the right point.
    Extended cuts are i think slightly different things. I certainly view the Lord of the Rings extended versions as definitive but there exclusion in the cinema was a commercial decision as distributors do not like long films (less viewings means less customers = less money!) But are these redefined cuts? Not really in my view. DVD has simply allowed the film maker to issue a fuller version denied by the limitations of the business of cinema showings.
    Some you'll like, some you won't.
    It's a bit like the question of preferring a foreign original over the Hollywood remake.

  • Comment number 88.

    The director's cut of The Abyss makes an already over-long film interminable. It crams in cheesey, on-the-nose scenes of conflict across the globe and cgi tidal waves that make the wave-surfing bit in Die Another Day look subtle. Plus there's even more of Cameron's enviromentalism which he also lectured us with in Avatar. Cameron, like all the greats, still benefits from an editor.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think that the extended cuts/director's cuts are fine as long as both versions are properly preserved and made available. George Lucas continued Orwellian quest to destroy all prints of the STAR WARS trilogy has gone so far as the destruction of every print of the originals he could and even having the United States Library of Congress replace the prints of the theatrical version with the "Special Editions" and his continued refusal to properly restore the originals. The closest fans got was a release of the non-anamorphic laserdisc masters a few years ago, and Lucas says the films are "his," in spite of only having directed one and the fact that these alterations continually change the work of many artists and craftsman involved in the original special effects shots. I think once a film is out in theaters and is in the hearts and minds of the millions who love it, it become something else to them. That's the power of cinema, and the power of art in general. Am I suggesting that this somehow makes the films "mine?" No. But I think the place in their hearts that the version of the film that many love means that many fans form understandable attachments. In conclusion, there's nothing wrong with alternate releases of films as long as the originals are treated with the respect and integrity they deserve so as not to damage important parts of film history.

    Visit originaltrilogy.com and join the fight. We need all the help we can get.

  • Comment number 90.

    To add, I'm often very interested in see these alternate versions (I'd love to see the workprint of Apocalypse Now legally surface), but I think that you yourself once said Kermode "Yeah, but I saw the film. You were just in it/made." Trust the tale, not the teller, sometime the director isn't the best judge of what's best for "his or her" film, to my mind.

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 - Lucas, as well as originating it, owns the Star Wars franchise lock, stock & barrel. He CAN do with it as he pleases - whether you and your ilk like it or not. Get over it.

  • Comment number 92.

    I AM!

    But this conversation about the Director's cut being better or worse all depends on the film.

    Blade Runner is the best example to use in this debate in that some people saw it first time with the voice over and others saw it without and each would swear that their version was the definitive version over the other.

    I think it's that emotional reaction you have to a movie when you first see it. Nothing compares to that first time screening and the versions after do feel like an after thought.

    I say that the director's Cut will largely be like extra features - it's a "further reading" chapter but not an enhancement of the original cinematic experience.


    In the case of The Exorcist - I think given the type of film that it is with all it's rumors of deaths on set and it's controversial subject matter to boot it will give scenes called the "spider walk scene" a certain mythic status.

    I feel that sometimes particularly in this case you have to accept that some things fell on the cutting room floor for good reason.

    "The Spider Walk Scene" performer doesn't even look like Blair and so works against continuity which I think is why it fell out in the first cut.

    "The Stairs Discussion" felt implausible because in such an intense situation you probably wouldn't have the time to sit on the stairs and have a conversation like this.

    The objective of the Demon is clear from the very moment it takes Regan and while the book needs such explanation the film does not.

  • Comment number 93.

    LeSamourai wrote:
    "More power to the editors! Sometimes Auteurs are too close to the film."

    This. Cinema may be a directors medium but that doesn't mean directors are infallible. A good editor (or producer, for that matter) can give a promising work the focus it needs to make it great. Directors cut's allow us to see what these works would be like without those 'checks and balances' and I'd say that only in rare instances is it for the better (eg, Blade Runner).

    Re. Donnie Darko - great film but everything that Richard Kelly has done since then (including _that_ directors cut) has cemented him as mediocre at best. The truth; the limiting circumstances surrounding that films creation made it what it is. If Kelly had been given the time, resources, and everything else he wanted to make the film in the way he desired it would never have ended up being the movie that subsequently garnered him so much attention. In my opinion his curse is trying to make a better film than DD when the aspects that made that film so interesting are not within his control, and never will be.

  • Comment number 94.

    I think Richard Kelly's post Darko work is very underrated, Southland Tales is a glorious mess of a film but one of the most fascinating films of the last decade and completely sums up Bush's America. The Box's first half is bland morality play but the last half is bonkers sci-fi alien conspiracy thriller.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have to defend Cameron's Director's Cut of The Abyss. While some of the extended character stuff may have been unnecessay, I feel the film benefited greatly from the expanded background story involving the nuclear tension with Russia, which was barely even hinted at in the Theatrical. The extra story added much needed contextual weight to Michael Biehn's paranoia about the aliens and really helped to flesh out the extended ending which made a lot more sense, as opposed to the damp and somewhat confusing squib it was before.

  • Comment number 96.

    The "Director's Cut" can be a hit and miss affair. The issue I have is that directors are not always necessarily right, and films are in need of good editing, much in the same way that some authors need scalpels taken to their books for much needed editing. Sometimes, someone needs to tell the director, "No."

    Remember: something isn't perfect because there's nothing left to add, it's perfect because there's nothing left to take away. Concise and compact almost always makes a better film.

    As always, there are exceptions where a director's cut is justified, such as when a film is butchered to reduce the rating, or to comply with some pencil-pusher's view of what "works" with an audience, in which case it makes sense for the director to restore it to the original vision.

    However, for the most part, director's cuts can be just self-indulgent nonsense to help make a few more sales.

  • Comment number 97.

    Prehaps Easy Rider shows that Directors shouldnt always be allowed to have the final cut with Hopper refusing to cut the film below 220 minutes.............

  • Comment number 98.

    Cinema Paradiso was cut by about half-an-hour for international release and was greatly improved by the removal of a few scenes. In the directors cut the whole relationship between Toto and Alfredo is changed. The international release's ending is bitter-sweet, the directors cut is just bitter.

  • Comment number 99.

    There is ANOTHER "Director's cut" of The Exorcist on the Blu-ray. Only small changes from what I've read, but apparently two of the CGI demons have been removed (one green/blue on Regans door and a silhuette next to her door).

    The sound has been reworked too on the theatrical cut, so if one prefer that version it's possible to enjoy with best possible audio too.

    Which version of The Exorcist is the preferred one of the Good Doctor?

  • Comment number 100.

    "The director's job is to ensure that the finished film is what excited him in the first place." - Samuel Fuller.

    Very often, a director's cut is an indication of a director still grappling with a film they are still unsure about. Now obviously The Devils is a different example, being subject to censorship problems rather then a directorial vision unsure of where it was going. I usually scorn at directors releasing director's cuts because almost like they are saying 'we think its a bit better this time' when it often isn't.
    The extended cuts of the Lord of The Rings series is more for the ardent fans who enjoy hanging out in the world of these movies, i have no problem with that but its not always beneficial for the average viewer. Censorship problems aside, a director should have the strength of his convictions (sorry good doctor, that includes Friedkin in regards to The Exorcist.) When a film is done, its done.
    Being a follower of Roger Ebert as I know you are, here's are timely essay in regards to Guiseppe Tournatorre's extended cut of Cinema Paradiso which is inferior to the original cut. Essentially a contributor to Ebert's blog puts forward the same questions you have.

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/foreignc/2011/10/cinema-paradiso.html

 

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