Posted by: ckckred | December 16, 2012

What’s Your Opinion on Director’s Cuts?

Blade Runner's final cut is considered to be better than the original

Blade Runner’s final cut is considered to be better than the original

Yesterday I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, Blade Runner.  Blade Runner is a movie that when originally released didn’t receive the praise it so richly deserve.  It was only when Ridley Scott, the director of the movie, released a final cut in 2007 (there was a director’s cut released in 1992) did the movie finally get its acclaim (Roger Ebert, who initially gave the previous versions three stars each, finally anointed the final cut in his Great Movie sections).

This inspired today’s question: what do you think of director’s cuts?  I feel that some of them often improve greatly over the theatrical versions since the director is given greater control.  Other than Blade Runner, the director’s cut of Brazil (which was cut up in its release in the United States) is said to be much better.  However, sometimes it can have a drawback (don’t even get me started on George Lucas’ special editions of the Star Wars movies).  Some have both supporters and detractors, like Apocalypse Now Redux.  But what do you think?

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Responses

  1. I Simply LOVE Director’s Cuts When They Add More To The Original Film And Make It Better. “BLADE RUNNER” Is A Perfect Example. I Even Own “SUPERMAN II: THE RICHARD DONNER CUT” On The Blu-ray.
    I’m A Mega Fan Of The Director’s Cut, My Friend, Fo SHO!
    -BRAD

    • Yeah, usually when directors have more control of their films they improve. Blade Runner was too heavily tampered by studio involvement, the final cut improves the movie greatly. I haven’t seen Superman II, but I’ve heard the director’s cut is better. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Just like many other broad terms, there are good instances and bad. Obviously Blade Runner’s “Final Cut” is a masterpiece (It also landed on AFI’s top 100) as is Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.

    But a number of times they can be unnecessary, and at worse, self indulgent. I think about Dances with Wolves when I want to think of a bad example. That movie was already 3 hrs long, and Costner added in ANOTHER hour. Good lord!

    So… its really case by case for me.

    • Yeah, the final cut of Blade Runner is the best version. I haven’t seen Kingdom of Heaven but have heard the director’s cut improves it.

      I agree that most director’s cuts just add footage that really is unnecessary. It was hard for me just to watch Dances with Wolves for just one hour, let alone four. I prefer it when a director uses a director’s cut to make substantial changes instead of just add more footage in. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Three points:

    1. I believe you made a typo: “there was a director’s cut released in 1892” 1892 was when film was just in development, so special effects wouldn’t have been like in Blade Runner, let alone existent

    2. Is it *Blade Runner*’s anniversary? I have this in my inbox as well as Justin’s (TIWAM) review.

    3. I love director’s cuts. Except when they take away from the pacing, or just add stuff that doesn’t need to be there. That’s what I’ve heard about *Apocalypse Now Redux*.

    • Thanks for catching the typo. I just fixed it.

      Yeah, this year is Blade Runner’s anniversary and a new five disc copy was released which features some things not featured on the previous one.

      Apocalypse Now’s my favorite movie and I do like the director’s cut but the original one’s much better. The problem with Redux is really just this one scene that goes on a little too long. The theatrical cut is better.

      A lot of director’s cuts do just add more footage. Sometimes this could help (JFK) but it often hurts the film (Dances with Wolves). I usually try to hear from people which version is better and watch that one. Thanks for commenting.

  4. It depends on why there is a Director’s cut. Was there constant fighting between the studio and director? Was there not enough money to make the film the director wanted? Was the technology not there yet? Did the director realize no one like their original concept and wants a do over?

    For “Blade Runner” it worked; for “Apocalypse Now” it didn’t. Generally if the movie gets substantially longer with a Director’s Cut I avoid it.

    • I like director’s cuts when the director adds things to the film that really matter, not just extra footage. Blade Runner is a great example of that.

      I love Apocalypse Now (it’s my favorite film) and I do enjoy Redux, but the original version’s a lot better. That plantation sequence goes on too long. I usually tend to see the theatrical versions unless I hear that the director’s cut improves the film. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I think most director’ cuts detract from the overall flow of a film. I enjoy the extra footage but most of the time it’s unnecessay material. Like you, one of my all time favourites is Blade Runner but I’d have to say that I actually enjoyed the original cut. The VoiceOver was deemed inappropriate but I thought it really added to the film noir feel.

    • It really depends how the director’s cut plays out. I don’t like it when they add extra footage unless it has more meaning. I like the theatrical cut of Blade Runner (though I prefer the final cut more) and didn’t think the voice over was that bad as most people say, but the final cut is more efficient in my opinion. Thanks for commenting.

  6. It depends on the filmmaker, the film, and their intention. Brazil is a great example. The shortened version by the studio known as “Love Conquers All” is a travesty. The final cut and the somewhat shortened version of that film are great though it’s best to go with the longest cut of the film.

    I know I’m in the minority but I do prefer the Redux version of Apocalypse Now largely feel like that the pacing is improved and some parts of it are much clearer.

    One great example of a great director’s cut is Once Upon a Time in America. While there’s an extended version that is coming out. The version that Sergio Leone had intended is the definitive version. The studio version cut the film from 3 hours and forty-three minutes into 2 1/2 hours and set a lot of the film in chronological order and it hurt the story badly.

    • Yeah, studio intervention really hurt Brazil. I heard that Universal cut about 20 minutes fro Gilliam’s original version.

      I do love Apocalypse Now (it’s my favorite film) and I like Redux but for me the original is better. I actually felt the other way around (the plantation scene went on too long).

      I haven’t seen Once Upon A Time In America but have heard before that the studio trimmed the movie into half. I hate it when they do that just to shorten the length, it really hurts the film. Thanks for commenting.

  7. It’s interesting to watch a director’s cut but most of them smack of either self indulgence from the director or just money grabbing. However, if there is a legitimate reason for releasing one, say the studio screwed the director over or something, then I’m all for it. It would have to be quite a significant change to make me re-purchase a film though.

    • Good point. Most director’s cuts just add extra, unnecessary footage but the best ones make more significant changes like Blade Runner. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Directors obviously think everything they shoot is gold. It’s up to a good film editor to arrange what the director shot and fashion a coherent film, taking out what is unnecessary and leaving in what is essential. Therefore, Director’s Cuts are usually footage that should’ve been eliminated and not been put back in. There are some exceptions, but usually Director’s Cuts detract from the flow of a film.

    Apocalypse Now Redux, Dawn Of The Dead (1978), Bad Santa, Donnie Darko, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (original trilogy), Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The French Connection were all worsened in awful, bloated director’s cuts. PLEASE seek the originals on these films at all costs! They were classics in their original form for a reason!

    • I like it when director’s cuts are used to add more to film when it’s substantial like in Blade Runner. Just adding more footage to the movie doesn’t necessarily better it. I usually pick theatrical cuts over director’s cuts unless I hear before the director’s cut is better. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I like director’s cuts too, but oftentimes they frustrate me too when I like them better than the original. It’s what the theatrical release SHOULD’VE been. And then I wasted my time/money at theaters.

    I prefer for director’s cuts to give better insight and a few easter eggs/ideas, but ultimately to be less stellar than the movie released in theaters. Directors should push for the best of their work to be in the theatrical release and let the supplemental elements be exactly that.

    (I still will buy/watch director’s cuts though)

    • Often times I feel that studios often restrict the creativity of directors from the theatrical versions. Warner Bros.’s tampering of Blade Runner really hurt the film. Still, sometimes I prefer the theatrical versions since most director’s cuts just add extra and unnecessary footage. Thanks for commenting.

  10. There has only been one director’s cut that I feel completely improved the movie: Lawrence of Arabia, 1988 cut. The movie had no aesthetic depth or experimentation in the original (a gripping narrative? Yes), but the re-cut added so much more depth to the film.

    Even in Blade Runner, some of the cuts were unnecessary; I loved Ford’s narration, and getting rid of it annoyed me a little. :L

    • Oh, I always forget Lawrence of Arabia had a director’s cut. Yeah, it really does add much more to the film and falls into the minority where adding footage is a good thing.

      I do like the voice over in Blade Runner more than most, but feel that getting rid of it improved the movie. Blade Runner’s final cut also is a good example of a movie which manages to update its special effects without ruining the feel of the original like the Star Wars special editions. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Sorry to comment again, but I have to talk about Touch of Evil: the studio cut it originally, which Welles detested. It was restored after his death, and it is ten times the film now.

    • You know what, it always annoys me why the studio would cut up Touch of Evil. I remember reading that the director’s cut was made from Orson Welles’ notes said how it should be structured. I haven’t seen it, but this also happened to The Magnificent Ambersons, where they forced Welles to add a happy ending. Orson Welles never received the respect he so richly deserved from Hollywood. Thanks for commenting.

  12. This is a great discussion question. I think that in general I have to be against director’s cuts. If you think of films as works of art, once they are released to the public they should remain untouched, other than for restoration purposes. Michelangelo never went back and decided to give David shoes. Da Vinci never added more stuff in the background of the Mona Lisa.

    I guess, looking at literature, this same debate could be applied to abridged and unabridged versions which is more of a grey area and applies to film a little better. But I still have to say that generally I am against it.

    • Yeah, I agree. Most director’s cuts just add unnecessary footage or make unneeded changes, like George Lucas’ special editions of the Star Wars movies. I prefer watching the theatrical editions over the regular ones except when the director’s cut actually makes notable changes like Blade Runner. Still, I think theatrical cuts tend to be stronger. Thanks for commenting.

  13. I need to mention the LOTR trilogy since no one else has yet (that I saw). Director’s “cuts” that add a lot of footage usually spell disaster. But for LOTR, the director’s released extended versions are required to understand the movies (if, unlike me, you are not already a Tolkien fan who believes his best work is the Silmarillion, and not LOTR). For example, cutting the scene when Faramir tells his father Denethor that he let the hobbits go with the ring of power and that Boromir would have kept the ring for himself leaves the viewer of the cinematic release wondering why Denethor treats Faramir so poorly for the scenes after the one I just described that wasn’t in the first release.

    For those who appreciate the LOTR movies, the extended versions were so well crafted by Peter Jackson, that anyone who has seen the extended versions will never watch the theatrical versions again. I cannot think of any other movies that add so much material that is far from “throw away” and explains so much that is missing from the original releases.

    NOTE: I am not in the least interested in seeing the bloated Hobbit “trilogy.” The Hobbit, unlike LOTR, was a single book and should have been a single movie faithful to the original material. Making it a trilogy that adds a lot of material not in the Tolkien book smacks of Jackson cashing in on the popularity of LOTR. I laugh at the thought of stretching The Hobbit to appear as an “epic trilogy” on par with LOTR.


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