4 Director’s Cuts That Are Worse Than The Original

By  · Published on January 8th, 2015

New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema

One of the first things you learn as a creative person is that everyone needs an editor. (Except me.) (Especially me.) Having an extra set of eyes that cares about your piece and wants it to be better can never hurt. Sure, sometimes studios get in the way, and in those cases, Director’s Cuts are a wonderful thing. But sometimes a director gets a bug up their ass about some perceived flaw in their film and puts out a cut that’s just… worse. Like, bad worse.

4. The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions

New Line Cinema

I’ve griped about this before, so I’ll lead with it. The extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films are freaking terrible. Yes, they include some nerdy scenes that didn’t make it from the books, and yes, those are fun. But those scenes were excised for a reason. The movies already have terrible pacing. Remember all the complaints about how Return of the King took forever to end? That’s a pacing problem.

The extended editions take the editing issues of the original films and make them so much worse. If you’re a hardcore Tolkien fan or just someone who adores Peter Jackson’s take on the universe, they’re bearable because you’re probably not paying attention to the runtime or how long the hobbits have been sitting around with Cate Blanchett. You’re just enthralled by orcs and stuff. But for everyone else who merely likes the films and simply enjoys them as fantasy fare (don’t get me wrong, I had a great time watching the originals, even if they did get slower as they went on), the extended editions are a tremendous drag.

3. Apocalypse Now Redux

United Artists

Second verse, same as the first. Apocalypse Now had just fine pacing. It’s a slow burn, yes, but it never feels like a time vampire. The Redux version, however, adds nearly an hour of extra footage that has basically no impact on the rest of the film whatsoever. Keep in mind that it came out 22 years after the initial release. The original film had stood on its own as one of the greatest war films ever for nearly two decades. People already knew and accepted that it was amazing and a huge part of the film canon.

The Redux version just feels unnecessary. The scenes feel unnecessary (probably why they were cut in the first place) and simply delay the film. It’s worth nothing that the original film took two freakin’ years to edit. Why Francis Ford Coppola felt that re-editing it to add scenes he’d struck out the first time was a good idea is beyond me. Yes, the French plantation scenes are nice, but when they don’t fit, they don’t fit.

2. Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut

Newmarket Films

Okay, I’ll admit, Donnie Darko was confusing as shit. You can kind of piece together the story if you read the (now defunct) websites and watch the movie with Richard Kelly’s director’s commentary, but the director’s cut of the film made way more sense and actually had some really great scenes. It also had somewhat better CGI to replace the cheap effects that Kelly got a friend to do for free. It’s actually a really good example of a director’s cut done right…

Except the music, one of the best parts of the original film, got turned into kind of a pile of crap. Since Kelly had a bigger budget for this version, he got to use the music he originally wanted, but that also means he dropped/moved around some of the great songs that were in the original version, like “The Killing Moon” by Echo & The Bunnymen, which was replaced by “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. Yeah, the song shows up later in the film, but it was great where it was. Just give us a Blu-Ray with the original music, Richard Kelly.

1. Blade Runner: The Final Cut or whatever

Warner Bros.

Blade Runner has had so many damn re-edits most people have never seen the original version. Not that that’s a bad thing. The Director’s Cut/Final Cut is generally a better edit overall (leaving aside the whole unicorn dream part, which people apparently still freak out about). It’s still a great film, but like, better.

Except that it gets rid of one thing that I think was wildly underrated: Harrison Ford’s voiceovers. For some reason, Ridley Scott hated them and has removed them from every single version of the film since the theatrical cut, even to the point of having odd spaces of silence that he had to fill in with random sound effects so it didn’t seem weird. Maybe it was bad for the 80s, but now it seems kinda noir/retro. Check out the famous “tears in rain” scene from the theatrical version. It’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be, right? Sure, it could use a better read (it’s been rumored for decades that Harrison Ford sandbagged it because Ridley Scott didn’t like the voiceover from the get-go), but the writing itself is fine. I started with the Director’s Cut, but after watching the theatrical version, I’d really love a release that re-adds a less wooden version of the narration.

Feel free to tell me I’m insane in the comments.

For more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog and his book, The Book of Word Records, available now!

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