Director’s Cut – 3 Essential Recuts (And 3 Worthless Ones)
Ever since the birth of the concept in the early eighties, the prospect of a ‘Director’s Cut’ has become one of the most mouth watering morsels for film fanatics, a chance to glimpse an expanded version or in some cases a radically altered vision to their favorite movies. Whether it be the lengthening of an already acclaimed feature (Apocalypse Now Redux), or a total overhaul on the original (Superman II: The Donner Cut), the opportunity to claim even more entertainment, and insight, from a released film is too good to pass up.
However, for every second look that breathes new life or realizes unfulfilled potential for a film, there is the ill-judged revisit of pointless, self indulgent or apparently maliciously motivated proportions. Sometimes, a feature film pleads to be seen in its full light. Other times, it’s better left well alone.
Here is a look at six notable re-cuts, three that dramatically improve the material, a further three which bafflingly fail.
Kicking us off is cinema’s most famous such second run, or more accurately it’s most famous fix job. While Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is now celebrated as a classic of both sci-fi and neo-noir, its 1982 release was an underwhelming one, not helped by the studio enforced amendments which clouded its quality with needless audience pandering and dilution of its vision. The film’s reputation, and standing, improved dramatically when it was significantly re-cut in the early nineties.
Most notably, Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut (it has been re-cut three times since its release, most recently with the tidying and fixing Final Cut) wiped out the ill-judged and poorly orchestrated narration track, added late into the original shoot’s production due to fears of viewer confusion, and restored the ambiguous ending to comprehensively wipe out the illogical and sappy theatrical ending, which infamously utilized outtakes from The Shining and swapped the permanent raining nighttime with sweeping bright countryside.