Who’d be a director, eh? Between having to deal with diva movie stars, studio interference, belligerent screenwriters, and an out-of-control budget, it’s a wonder these movies get made at all. It must be frustrating putting your all into directing a movie, only to have the studio order cuts, cuts, cuts. But, this is the reality for so many directors out there – they never truly get to see their vision captured on screen.
Sure, there are some exceptions – I’ll wager James Cameron has carte blanche to do whatever he wants – but, for mere mortals, the experience can be considerably less smooth; often the only way a director will see their full vision for a project will be with the release of a Director’s Cut. Sometimes they contain a few extra scenes, other times it’s hours of extra footage; that’s why many DC’s become collector’s items. Here are 5 Directors Cuts I can assure you are better than the original.
Blade Runner (1982)
I’ll start us off with the poster child for Director’s Cuts, and the movie that popularised the idea of them in the first place. There are actually now several versions of the film available. If, like me, you have all of them (why wouldn’t you?), you’ll understand the appeal. However, it’s a pretty clear consensus that the Director’s Cut is the superior version of Blade Runner. They got rid of that pesky voiceover at the end and made things a little more ambiguous – all of which serves make a masterpiece even more masterful.
Alien 3 (1992)
A controversial entry, sure, but a worthy one I think. Alien 3 is easily the most underrated installment in the franchise, and even more so when you factor in this version. It was the directorial debut of the then 30-year-old David Fincher, a man who has gone on to become one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood. But, as a young and inexperienced director, he had a harrowing time on the film. While there is no DC by name, there is an Assembly Cut, which is a more comprehensive version and makes the film significantly better. It’s the closest version to what Fincher wanted before the studio demanded cuts.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Return of the King is not, in my opinion, the best of the trilogy, though it does, definitely, have the best Director’s Cut. The four-disc Extended Edition of the film comes with around 50 extra minutes of Peter Jackson’s high fantasy epic! What makes this DC so good is that it ties up a lot of loose ends we were left wondering about in the theatrical version. Anyone who considers themselves a Lord of the Rings fan needs to make sure they check out this sensational extended version right now.
Blood Simple (1984)
Those wiley Coen Brothers, they know how to keep ya guessing, right? Blood Simple is a curious addition to this list – I’ll be the first to acknowledge that. But I added it due to the quirk of it being a DC that is actually shorter than the original! By trimming their seminal debut down by up to three minutes, the Coens actually created a tighter and tauter flick. This is a great approach, and I can definitely think of a few more directors who could stand to trim their movies down a bit!
Superhero epic Watchmen always seemed like the kind of movie that needed longer to tell its story. So it’s a good job we got a Director’s Cut for those craving more of this Nixon-era, violent superhero story. The Director’s Cut of Watchmen shows director Zack Snyder taking a rare risk, and really going a long way to enriching his world. At a run time of a staggering 215 minutes, it’s probably only one for the enthusiasts, but, if you can sit through it, it’s a thrilling watch.
I for one am a stickler for a good Director’s Cut, especially if it’s a movie I dig. And these are some of the ones I feel were really worth the extra cut. Some of you will mark the notable absence of Apocalypse Now, but that’s because I think the original is superior! I know, the horror, the horror, right?!