The Extended, the Unrated, and the Re-cut


Nowadays, there are so many different editions of movies being released, or re-released, that it can be hard to know which one to pick. Unfortunately, not all editions are created the same. I’m a firm believer that editing can make or break a movie, and just as an author should not be allowed to edit their own book, sometimes a director also needs an outside pair of eyes to point out blind spots, excesses, or troubles with pacing.

Which is why I say, beware the extended, unrated, or re-cut DVD. In some cases the difference is relatively minor, but in others, a recut version completely destroys an entire movie.

Here are a couple DVDs I would recommend avoiding:

Apocalypse Now (Redux)

Now with nearly 45 extra minutes—as though the original did not have enough apocalypse.

Cinema Paradiso: The New Version

I have not actually experienced this 2002 re-issue of this Academy Award-winning 1988 film, largely due to the fact that numerous people have warned me that it ruins the magic of the original. It is also nearly an hour longer, clocking in at 170 minutes.

Knocked Up (Unrated and Extended)

I remember enjoying this movie when it came out in theaters—I was surprised by its mixture of sweetness and crude dude-humor. Later I accidentally took home the unrated and extended edition to watch on DVD, and it completely ruined the movie for me. Having extended scenes where many of the movie’s comedians improv off each other can be fun to watch in an outtakes reel, but completely ruins the pacing of the movie.

Bad Santa: Badder Santa

Similar to Knocked Up, some of the extended scenes really make the movie drag on and on.  And honestly, the original was rude and crude enough—it did not need to be made any “badder.”

Dawn of the Dead (Extended Director’s Cut)

Die-hard horror fans may not agree with me, but I still think the original U.S. theatrical release is the best version of this zombie classic (filmed at the Monroeville mall, just in case you didn’t know). If you check out the Ultimate Edition though, you will get both the 119-minute International edition and the 126-minute U.S. theatrical version—as well as the bloated 139-minute “extended” cut.

Star Wars trilogy (Special Edition)

Remember when George Lucas made a big to-do about the 1997 re-release of the Star Wars trilogy in a new “Special Edition?” George Lucas spent millions of dollars retouching  A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of the Jedi, adding completely unnecessary details. Personally I prefer to believe that both this “special edition” and the prequels never existed.

Of course, I also realize that sometimes movies can be improved by being re-cut, and I for one will probably never watch the Hobbit movies until they are edited down into one movie, preferably less than three hours long.

How about you? Do you have any favorite (or least favorite) versions of films?



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6 responses to “The Extended, the Unrated, and the Re-cut

  1. I liked this post a lot. To be honest, I haven’t watched an extended version or director’s cut of anything in quite a while, so I can’t really speak to that, but I totally agree with what you were saying about editing. It could just be me, but it seems like movies in general have gotten longer. I’m not sure if filmmakers fill the need to give us a longer movie to make us feel we’re getting our money’s worth, but the most common complaint I seem to hear from my friends is, “The movie was about 20-30 minutes too long.”

  2. It’s good to see discussion of “longer is not necessarily better”.

    But, off the top of my head, some long versions that are great (there may be others not on the top of my head right now):

    Once Upon a Time in America (uncut; don’t know anything about the new restoration)

    Blade Runner (Final Cut)

  3. OK, I know I am a heretic but I like the original theatrical release of Blade Runner, dumbed down voice over and all

  4. I am so torn…I love Cinema Paradiso as-is, but now I’m curious about what they’ve done to it…nice reverse psychology there. ;)

    Leigh Anne

  5. Sheila

    My husband’s favorite movie is It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. He saw it as a boy in 1963 and he loves the slapstick, and crazy, sardonic, humor. He loves watching the best comedians in their prime. We have owned the Beta, VHS, and DVD versions. He has easily watched it at least 4X each year since we’ve been married…and never tires of the Big W, and especially Jonathan Winters. Sunday’s Parade Magazine had a little blub about a new 197 min. BlueRay version coming out in a few weeks. He’s a happy man. Let’s just add one more MAD to the tile. You will find me in another room reading a book.

  6. Rebekah

    Nice post. I totally agree that director’s cuts are often not necessary. There is a great episode of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” where the guys all make plans to go to a showing of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with 21 seconds of additional footage. They even stake out places in line at the theater. What do you think about DVDs that include discs with alternate endings? James Cameron is an offender in this category with an alternate ending for “Titanic.” Oh, and he makes really long movies to boot.

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