The lost footage of Blue Velvet, including a scene with flaming nipples, has been found. Fifty minutes of outtakes assembled by David Lynch will be released with the 25th anniversary DVD of the film. Blue Velvet is exactly 120 minutes long because Lynch’s contract with producer Dino De Laurentiis specified that the movie couldn’t run longer than two hours. Lynch’s original cut ran around four hours, so a lot of material was left on the cutting room floor.
Blue Velvet is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I’m eager to see the outtakes, not because I think they would have made a better movie, but instead to confirm one of my prejudices about Lynch and editing in general. My take is that, without the two hour limit, Lynch would have indulged himself in the style of the later episodes of Twin Peaks or the second part of Mulholland Drive. The discipline imposed by De Laurentiis forced Lynch to concentrate on the less fun but arguably more important task of finding the essential core of the narrative and characters portrayed in Blue Velvet.
In general, I think the world is in need of many fewer sprawling epics, and many more works of art where the creator has spent time trimming, pruning and refining. My guess is that the outtakes will show that Blue Velvet is the best David Lynch film because of the two hour limit, not in spite of it.
[sigh] I remember flaming nipples.
“…and I’m eager to see the outtakes, not because I think they would have made a better movie, but instead to
confirm one of my prejudices about Lynch and editing in general.see the flaming nipples.”
mistermix please. I fixed that for you.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Probably seen it too many times (perhaps a couple of dozen or so), flaming nipples or not… but over the years, have come to enjoy the flipped-out not-entirely-linear pieces like: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire even more, coming back to them time and time again.
Now it’s dark.
I can’t read anything in depth, because I can’t escape from the new super-extended Blu-Ray release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with all the deleted and half-filmed and even ‘somewhat considered’ scenes, now restoring the new fantasy classic to its proper 732 hour glory. We await, however, the 3700+ hour 3D conversion release.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
And my argument is every time they impose an artificial limit on a movie made from a book, you end up with Eragon, or the Golden Compass (with kids, my current reading is what I get to do at bedtime).
Dear Mistermix: Speaking as a former newspaper reporter, I must say this is probably the truest and most insightful post you will ever make. The number of narrative works that couldn’t benefit from being shorter is probably close to zero, starting with the Iliad.
Went to see Walter Murch speak recently, and all of us in the audience were in some form of debate about whether Apocalypse Now Redux was an improvement over the original, or threw it out of balance.
I’m of the opinion that the added scenes are interesting, but I prefer the film more “tightly wound”. If they were cutting stuff they didn’t want to cut, then they did a brilliant job of it.
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” -P. Picasso (supposedly)
Seriously. “…and his armor clattered about him” is, like, every 5th line. I loved the Odyssey, though.
@El Cid: It’s so wrong that your comedic hyperbole has given me a rampant case of “It must be mine!”
I’ve don’t care for Blue Velvet. I’ve watched it twice. I wanted to like it b/c all my cool drama friends loved it.
I’m not cool. I have come to accept that.
When you’re forced to make decisions, you wind up making decisions. You think really hard about whether something is essential or value-added or an indulgence. Sometimes discipline is a good thing.
Blue Velvet was so engrossing because it had a narrative spine around which the weirdness happened. I like David Lynch a lot but like him more when he works a bit harder on the artist-to-audience relationship (at least meeting us halfway).
Word on the first season of Twin Peaks vs. the unwatchable second. Inland Empire just never “got there” for me. But I have watched Mulholland Drive a few times and I *like* the way the last part of the movie goes back over the first part and demolishes it. (And Naomi Watts is extraordinary moving between the different versions of her reality and dreamstates).
Of course Eraserhead is the example of what Lynch would do if left to his own devices. On the other hand… in heaven, everything is fine.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Paula: You’ll always have National Velvet.
No flaming nipples though. Unless that was the name of one of the other horses. Possible.
Her horse BTW, was “Pie”.
Well, so is taking a… uh… never mind.
Blue Velvet is one of the movies that I feel the need to take a shower after watching. Didn’t like it at all. Just too creepy for me.
I heard RIchard Farnsworth originally had flaming nipples in The Straight Story.
I’ve seen exactly one “director’s cut” that was an improvement over the theatrical release, and that was George Romero’s arthouse sensation Land of the Dead.
Filmmakers are like dogs; they may strain at the leash, but deep down they want, nay, need to be disciplined.
*rolls up newspaper, goes looking for James Cameron*
As pretty much every previous commenter has said: yes indeed. It does seem a bit sad to me, though, that I can’t think of many directors in these market-driven days who are in a position to even aspire to self-indulgent sprawl. (Tarantino, maybe. “Inglourious Basterds” might’ve’ve benefitted greatly from a firmer producer’s hand at the reins.)
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
@different-church-lady: Francis cut the plantation scene because he didn’t like the lighting. I think it added a great deal. The bunnies in the chopper, ditto. If Brando hadn’t been such a fat ass it would have been good to see him humping some paddies but such is life.
I’m with you on that. I just don’t get the fascination with the movie. Maybe it was so hyped by friends that it could never live up to my expectations but I really wanted to like it.
I guess you just can’t please everyone.
Before we give too much credit to Dino de Laurentiis for his contribution to Blue Velvet, we should recall that he was also the co-producer of another project directed by David Lynch, Dune, a movie that I firmly believe should be banned under the Geneva Conventions.
While I would probably agree that Blue Velvet is Lynch’s most accomplished film, I maintain that the first year of Twin Peaks is his single greatest work. And for reasons related to mistermix’s emphasis upon the virtues of film editing.
The constraints of network television circumscribed Lynch’s propensity for obscurantism and narrative meanderings. In effect, it compelled him to be more creative in depicting or suggesting the mystery and horror.
Fellow members of the David Lynch Fan Club will be interested in this article from yesterday’s Guardian, “Sometimes the fish talks back to you,” that previews the release of Lynch’s debut album, Crazy Clown Time. It appears he has abandoned filmmaking for a new career as a chanteur. (Certainly the title of the album should be adopted as the theme of the 2012 GOP presidential sweepstakes.)
Initially BV worked for me because It was so different, scary and fascinating. Considering what it was up against 25 years ago, Lynch was like an alien from another dimension.
Now I appreciate the story more. It’s involving and well told.
Frank Booth is one of the scariest movie bad guys ever. I like to think that Heath Ledger’s Joker had a little Frank in the mix.
Tarantino would benefit greatly from not being a self-indulgent jackass.
Lots of talent there, no denying it. But it’s interesting to watch artists grow and mature as they get older, Spielberg for instance (from E.T. to Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), tackling more difficult or more thoughtful themes.
Tarantino is the rare case, who seems to get more infantile and immature the older he gets.
I’d argue for _Blade Runner_. I don’t think the Director’s Cut was any longer than the original release (checking quickly on Netflix, 117 minutes for each version, so yeah), but if nothing else, eliminating the voiceover was a definite improvement.
Bill E Pilgrim
At the very least.
I had to go back and read the book to get the taste of that movie out. The book had a lot more flaws than I had realized reading it at 17, but it was still great. The movie was nothing but flaws, and completely different ones.
The first season of Twin Peaks was so wonderful, but it had the same problem as LOST — they were just tossing stuff around that seemed cool, they didn’t have a real ending worked out. They were just vamping, hoping they didn’t have to get to the point where they had to resolve anything to the audience’s satisfaction.
Definitely. That’s why books have editors, for example. (Or used to, if trends continue.)
Me too. The Straight Story is my favorite David Lynch movie.
@R-Jud: “It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint Exupéry
(Orig: Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.)
The Moar You Know
Artists need editors. No exceptions.
Frankly, I’d like to see Lynch’s original cut of “Dune,” and I’d also like to see Elaine May’s original cut of “A New Leaf.”
I think all art functions better when it has to strain against restrictions. One of the reasons that so much modern art (painting, poetry, music) is so weak is because anything goes. Blank verse can be good poetry but it tends to be stream of consciousness crap.
The conflict and the inventiveness of getting around the restrictions improves the art. Repressive regimes create the greatest artists.
The directors cut of Brazil is a major improvement over the “happily ever after” version that frequently is shown on cable.
I would agree with you about the need for auteurs to have a firm editor. And it is especially apparent with Lynch in the second season of Twin Peaks (the first season of which had me swooning). I, too, love Blue Velvet, but I have no desire to see any lost footage or expanded versions. I have yet to see a single “director’s cut” or whatever that actually improves on the final theatrical cut. Ever. I don’t even sample them any more because I’ve found them so annoying.
@different-church-lady: No, you’re right: artists consume life, digest it, and then squeeze it back out in condensed form.
You can’t really fault any individual for “Dune” sucking…it’s just basically impossible to make an engaging movie from a book where 90% of the “action” is the characters’ internal thoughts. That said, I think the first half hour of the movie is visually brilliant…the Guild steersman floating in the tank, the baron getting his boils lanced, etc. Great creepy Lynchian imagery.
Special Patrol Group
Most overrated movie evar. (Twin Peaks, aka “Blue Velveeta,” most overrated TV program evar.) Nothing to see here folks, move along. The Angriest Dog in the World, on the other hand, rocks.
@handsmile: I like the movie Dune. I love the book itself, but like the movie just fine. I thought Lynch did a nice job of capturing the atmosphere of the book with all the weirdness in the movie. Plus the Harkonnen family was awesome.
I think the optimum cut for ‘Dune’ would have been about 2 minutes long. Having said that, I actually really liked Dune, I enjoyed it for the looks and pulpiness of it, and I’m even saying this as a fan of the books.
Just a note about the outtakes: Lynch is not making a “director’s cut” – he doesn’t believe in revising his work once it’s out the door. So he’s just edited the outtakes into a 50 minute reel, and that will be on the DVD along with the original 120 minute Blue Velvet.
The Dune soundtrack rocked as well.
@dmsilev: That’s cheating.
Sure, the sans-voice-over cut was more pleasing, given that you had seen the theatrical version and already understood what was going on. Seeing the director’s cut of blade runner w/o having seen the theatrical release first would have been a confusing mess.
Though I did appreciate that he did away with the “and they all lived happily ever after” bit at the end. The final scene was much better without the magic explanation that everything was going to be all right.
I saw Dune with my sister. I was staggered at how inept the storytelling was. When Sean Young appeared on the screen, with that weird haircut, I yelled out ‘It’s Alfalfa!’ and my sister hit me.
I’d like to see Lang’s original cut of Metropolis, but I doubt that will ever happen. Metropolis and Blade Runner are in my Sci Fi Top Five, and the other three are subject to change.
Most “extras” on most DVDs aren’t very interesting, and most deleted scenes aren’t exceptions in this regard. The vast majority of the time the answer to why was the scene cut is simple and uninteresting — the scene slowed things down. However, occasionally, and I’ve only seen this a few times, a thoughtful director who has made a good film will include deleted scenes, explain why they were cut, and his or her commentary reveals a great deal about good film making.
A long time ago on one of the earlier DVDs I saw that included deleted scenes, the director’s commentary on those scenes was one of the highlights of the film, which despite the fact that I can’t remember the name of the film — it was a foreign film with subtitles, not well known or widely seen in the US, I’ve never heard of it since, and to make matters worse, I often don’t pay any attention to the titles of obscure films I get out of the public library, which is where I found that particular DVD. Anyway, there were only about a half dozen deleted scenes, but two or three of them were absolutely great scenes. However, instead of just writing them off with the explanation they slowed the film down, the director gave remarkably insightful reasons for why such good scenes didn’t belong in the final cut. There was one scene in particular that I really liked, in fact I probably liked it as well as any scene in the film, but his reasons for cutting it was compelling. Yet, on its own it was a wonderful scene.
I still frequently look at DVD deleted scenes, but rarely do I find the scenes or the director’s reasons for cutting them worth the time and effort — it slowed the film down is often true enough, but many great films are slow and many fast paced films are terrible. Fast pacing is almost a necessity in today’s film market, but I find the frantic pace of many films to be a major flaw.
Now, I have to sit down with the on-line library catalog and see if I can’t figure out what the heck the name of that film was. It’s been years since I first saw it and I think I might like to watch it again.
Without offering an opinion on either Lynch or Blue Velvet, I will say that a lot of director’s badly need imposed limits. Most “director’s cuts” are not better or at least not significantly better films than their original theatrical releases. (At least, I don’t think so.) However, an arbitrary 120 minute limit seems ridiculous. Would 122 minutes really be a worse film? Still, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that 120 minutes (or thereabout) was enough time to get the job done.
Which makes me think of some classical music composers. I can think of at least a couple symphonists who I’ve always felt badly needed an “editor.”
Bill E Pilgrim
@James Gary: The funny part is that the book is really full of the worst sort of cliches, hokey dialog that sounds like a bad circa 1940s war movie (“Man, don’t them Gs feel good on your dogs?” the soldier stepping off the interstellar transport says) and so on. Even if you just made the movie like one of those though it would have been more fitting in a way, or at least recognizable.
I think you could take that book as material in lots of directions, including all sorts of ways to weave in the messiah narrative and inner dialog and so on. No shortage of visuals and action, just think of how Lawrence of Arabia dealt with similar scenes and stories.
Turning it into a sort of Sting-era music video style was just bizarre, it was just a big miss, for me, and I usually have lots of tolerance for people using the book only as a starting point.
I know some people rave about “Blue Velvet”, but count me as a strong dissenter who found it to be an awful piece of junk, with embarrassingly bad, amateurish acting performances. Dennis Hopper doing his hyperventilating manic act is not enough to carry an incoherent mess of a movie.
I went into the theater predisposed to like this film, both because of David Lynch’s previous work and because many of the scenes were filmed either in the small town in SE North Carolina where I grew up, or else in recognizable parts of the Wilmington area. I have a receptive taste for strange, offbeat films. I came out disappointed that I’d spent two hours watching a pretentious, poorly done shaggy dog story.
I shall be skipping the 4-hour uncut version. The 2-hour version was enough of a colossal waste of time.
@Perfect Tommy: The first run in the theatres definitely did not have a happy ending so while not quite the Director’s cut, it was definitely truer to the vision than the shortened and ponified version done for cable.
Gin & Tonic
Touch of Evil
@Bill E Pilgrim: LOL, Dune. I remember seeing a director interview with Lynch for, I think, a Blue Velvet DVD (maybe Mulholland Drive or even Eraserhead) where he talked about one day screening Eraserhead for his entire Dune crew. He said that after it was over, nobody said anything to him but just silently filed out of the theater. I was beside myself laughing. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Lynch, but he’s definitely an acquired taste, especially Eraserhead. If there was a single member of the crew that wasn’t completely TANKED fifteen minutes after leaving that screening, they are better souls than I.
I trust you’ve seen the version based on the reels found in Argentina a few years ago? That’s probably the closest we’re ever going to get, barring discovery of another lost copy in a basement somewhere.
Attributed to Blaise Pascal, Mark Twain among others
A local theater played Blue Velvet with Isabella Rossellini there to talk, field questions, sign autographs and such.
I like her, like the film, but I couldn’t go this. There was just no way that I could feel comfortable interacting with her right after seeing it.
One of my very favorite quotes, which I always attribute to Flaubert but think may have been from someone else (and I’ve since gone looking for it again) was: “Had the author been half as industrious, this novel would have been twice as long.”
I’ve always loved it for the pithy way the writer acknowledged that the real work in creating a novel lies in the editing, and not simply in throwing words on a page.
@Joseph Nobles: I maintain that the benefit of seeing Eraserhead is that you gain the ability to discuss with others the fucked-up-ness and incomprehensibility of Eraserhead.
@schlemizel: Sorry to be a literature pedant, but I’m pretty sure you mean “free verse,” not “blank verse.” “Blank verse” is unrhymed iambic pentameter, like (most of) Shakespeare or Milton.
Also too, I liked “Wild at Heart” better than “Blue Velvet.”
@FlipYrWhig: Ditto. Am I correct in remembering that “Wild at Heart” = “F’d up Wizard of Oz”?
Don’t like Lynch. Prefer actual Surrealists.
@Perfect Tommy: (#33)
How delightfully appropriate for you to comment on this thread, with a “nym” derived from a film for which I would happily see a director’s cut, outtakes, spoiled footage, audition tapes, any scrap of celluloid at all: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.
Years ago, I had the same thought as I was reading the extended version of Stephen King’s “The Stand”. I really enjoyed the original, and expected to enjoy the extended version… I didn’t. The original was much better. I have come to believe that Stephen King is a much better writer if he’s partnered with an aggressive and fearless editor. This might be why I like his earlier works more, before he was really famous, when editors were less likely to be intimidated by his phenomenal success.
@redshirt: That’s my recollection too — part fucked-up Wizard of Oz, part fucked-up Odyssey.
we were in Wilmington NC when Dennis Hopper died, so we did a little tour of all the places they used in the movie. one of the bars they used happens to be a really great bar anyway, so it wasn’t such a chore.
The only scene that improved a director’s cut version was the sentry gun scene from Aliens, and even then the other added scenes tended to clunk the movie down. I’ve watched enough deleted scenes from what I consider classic movies to believe that those movies are classics because those scenes were deleted.
@James Gary: Tarantino cut Inglourious Basterds so much that the great Maggie Cheung was left out altogther. (She owned the cinema that Mélanie Laurent inherits.) So he has some discipline. And he never puts the deleted scenes on the DVDs or puts out a director’s cut. (And I can’t believe that I’m defending Tarantino, who I basically think is a wank. Don’t get me started on Kill Bill.)
Anyway, those of you who think that no director’s cut is an improvement should compare the Alan Ladd Jr.-edited version of Sergio Leone’s C’era una volta in America to Leone’s version. Ladd cut the thing chronologically and lopped 90 minutes out of it, and it makes no sense at all as a result. Leone’s sprawling 229-minute version has its faults, but it’s watchable. Leone commented that it’s not a matter of how long a movie is, it’s how long it seems, and I think he was right.
Leone’s 165- or 175-minute versions of C’era una volta il west is better than the 137-minute version Paramount released in the U.S. OK, so the scene with Lionel Stander goes on waaaaaay too long, at least in Leone’s cut, unlike the American one, Jason Robards Jr.’s character dies. (Imagine my surprise, not knowing about the different cuts and seeing that for the first time.)
But Leone’s operatic style needed plenty of time to unspool. The trouble these days is that 90-minute movies usually run about 135 minutes.
Nom de Plume
I just wanted to quote that for motherfucking truth. It seems like very movie and play I see, and every book I read, is 47 hours long, and I’m getting fucking sick of it. Filmmakers/playwrights/authors, knock it the fuck off.
Oh, and this:
“Lost” my ass.
@daveNYC: Oh yeah — the last time I watched Aliens on cable I noticed that scene and hadn’t remembered it at all… I guess I actually had never seen it before.
Blue Velvet is the only David Lynch movie that I’ve been able to tolerate: But I will never forgive him for what he did to Dune.
Weirding modules? One of the shittiest guitar bands of the 80s on the soundtrack? And the 15-year old Paul played by someone pushing 30 at the time? Don’t do that to one of my favorite childhood novels.
You might as well make a version of Lord of the Rings with helicopters and dinosaurs in it, with a soundtrack by Run-DMC.
@daveNYC: I watched Aliens so many times as a youngster that I flipped my lid the first time I saw the robotic gun in the hallway scene. In retrospect, HO-HUM.
@zmulls: “Tarantino is the rare case, who seems to get more infantile and immature the older he gets.”
That’s not entirely QT’s fault. Whether you like it or not, JACKIE BROWN was clearly an attempt to mature as a storyteller and get beyond the Tarantino-shtick. The response from critics and the public was “Eh. We want more shtick.” It’s not a coincidence that KILL BILL was then such a bloated cartoon.
@Tokyokie: And he never puts the deleted scenes on the DVDs or puts out a director’s cut.
The DVD version of Death Proof, Tarantino’s half of the Grindhouse “double feature,” was a greatly expanded version of what was shown in the original movie. I never saw the original, but the DVD version would have been much improved by slicing a good half-hour out of it.
@MBunge: Jackie Brown is one of my favorite movies.
Oh, thank you for saying this. I started film school right at the height of his post- Pulp Fiction notoriety and all but two of the men in my class wanted to be Tarantino so badly.
I thought there was something wrong with me when I watched PF (and Reservoir Dogs) and just felt annoyed. Beyond annoyed. I just… flames. Flames on the side of my face…
It’s amazing how any blog post about movies sooner or later becomes a slugfest over the artistic merits, or lack thereof, of Quentin Tarantino.
Well, I enjoyed Reservoir Dogs. You get a pass on jangly things for a first film, and it was packed with energy and fun dialogue and performances. Over the top, immature, sure, but I let that go.
Pulp Fiction was, and is, a great movie. I maintain to this day that it was a film about making moral choices in an immoral world, and for my money, a better worldview than the Oscar Winner that year, Forrest Gump, which gave the message that if you don’t think too much, and do what your mother tells you, good things will happen to you (and if you try to do your own thing or think independently, you will die or get maimed).
Jackie Brown was not bad, but it was slow. It needed tighter editing and that’s where he fell down on the job. The good parts of the film were in the relationship between Pam Grier and Robert Forster — believable conversations and emotions. I liked it better the second time I saw it. But moving from that to “Screw it, I’m just going to make big cartoon movies” — well, I don’t get on board that train. When you fail, you work harder the next time and dig deep within yourself, you don’t just give up and screw around.
I could certainly enjoy BASTERDS and KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF on an adolescent basis, at least parts of them.
(In KILL BILL 2, when Uma finds Carradine, it was a great moment, with some real emotional resonance, and I sat there wishing he would make films with more of that kind of moment and not piss his talent away)
“Dick dick dick dick dick dick dick”
@Jose Padilla — If you start with David Lynch, you’ll eventually get to Quentin Tarantino. I don’t think that’s a hard transition. ;-)
I know it’s a terrible thing for a two-time
loserfilm student to admit, but I hate “Blue Velvet.” Hate hate hate hate it. I think Roger Ebert articulated it best — it basically betrays its characters by throwing in funny “ha ha” moments that undercut the rest of the film.
Ironically, that’s why I like “Fire Walk with Me” and “Mulholland Drive” — in those films, it feels like the film starts with the jokey stuff and slowly becomes more serious until you have a shattering ending you didn’t expect.
But, then, I’m one of those taste-free people who really likes Tarantino and thinks he’s able to use pulp storytelling to deconstruct American culture in surprising ways.
(SPOILER), but didn’t anyone else notice that it’s the Jewish woman and the black man in “Inglorious Basterds” who successfully plot to kill Hitler, and it’s the Americans who fuck things up and almost ruin the whole plan with their incompetence?
You know what would have happened if Aldo and his merry band of idiots hadn’t shown up? Shoshanna would have gotten away and Hitler and his men would have all died trapped in the theater, including Landa.
@RSA: “The Straight Story is my favorite David Lynch movie.”
That is Lynch? wow. I also like that and not BV.
as to editing: I enjoyed both Proust’s epic and Joyce’s Ulysses because they were huge, sprawling messes that you could not really figure out. (and could certainly not figure out until you have read to the end twice.) Books probably have that advantage, that when a movie goes on too long you feel taken advantage of, but having read a book, its is your own fault/responsibility.
that you kept reading.
the discipline of the 2 hour time limit should also be visited upon quentin tarantino. someone needs to tell tarantino that Less is More. and that imitation is not the same as homage.
Quaker in a Basement
@Bill E Pilgrim: I actually knew a religiously conservative young man who mistook Blue Velvet for a sequel to National Velvet. He took it home from the video store for family movie night with his in-laws.
They made it as far as Hopper’s first draw on the nitrous tank–and his subsequent speculation about what he would like to do with “anything that moves”.
Kevin Smith is another “auteur” who has not matured noticeably, or seemingly learned much of anything.
83 comments on Lynch and no mention of Elephant Man??
jake the snake
There are not many works like “Ode On The Antiqity Of Fleas”
Adam had ’em.
But then, Ogden Nash was one of the few who really understood the whole brevity is the soul of wit thing.
Someone do that on James Cameron plz.
jake the snake
@Special Patrol Group:
You win the internets for the day.
jake the snake
The most recent release of Metropolis is the closest we will see until someone invents a time machine.
Supposedly the version found in Brazil was the first theater cut, but some of the footage was so degraged as
to be unusable.
jake the snake
@Gin & Tonic:
Technically that was an attempted restoration of the directors cut. The attempted restoration of Samuel Fuller’s
“Big Red One” is another. Fuller always had a lot of studio/producer interference. I’ve have wondered if “Naked Kiss” would be less of an incoherent mess if the producer had left it alone. Still, in incoherent mess from Fuller was still better then 90% of other people’s films.
I like Lynch movies in the same way that I like most of the tracks on Selected Ambient Works II. Not a regular occurrence but a controlled dose of weirdness.
@jake the snake: Fuller got along OK with producers as long as he was working for trustworthy B-movie moguls like Robert Lippert or when Zanuck had his back at Fox. But once Zanuck was forced out, Fuller was once again an indy working for chiseling pimps. Anyway, I find the reconstructed Big Red One to be a bit sad, for what might have been but for the shoddiness of the production values. (Try to watch the slipshod day-for-night North African landing sequence without wincing. It looks like it was filmed with about a dozen extras.) Usually Fuller turned his threadbare budgets into virtues, narrowing the focus of his tales and giving them the sort of grimy grace he instilled in most of his anti-heroes. But with Big Red One, Fuller had a big story to tell and a budget of less than the money spent on costumes for a Lady Gaga music video. As I watched Saving Private Ryan, I couldn’t help but think what a brilliant film it could have been in Fuller’s hands rather than done by somebody as conventional and predictable as Speilberg. In Fuller’s version, the Tom Hanks character would be killed on Omaha Beach, and Tom Sizemore would have taken over the platoon.
But at least Fuller’s films were edited well. He would cut out all the flab, like he was stripping article pronouns out of tabloid headlines. Fuller’s films made me realize just how much meaningless filler is in most films.
Um, just to clarify: the new edition of Metropolis doesn’t really add anything very exciting…there’s no actual “lost-and-now-restored” scenes per se. The newly discovered print had a lot of connecting and establishing shots (man walks into a room, etc.) which were edited out to shorten the 1920s theatrical release, and have now been edited back in. No new “acting” as such was restored.
The new/old material might help the story flow a bit more smoothly…it’s hard to tell, though, because the new shots are, even after being digitally cleaned up, obtrusively lower in quality than the old stuff. At least to my eye, that made the new version sort of annoying to watch.
@Mnemosyne: I disagree. (Spoiler heavy.) Shoshanna would have died on the camera room floor just the same as she did. Frederick leaving Hitler’s box and confronting her there was neither hindered or helped by the Basterds blundering in. The only thing that Aldo’s troupe changed was alerting Landa (there, you’re correct)and giving him a way out of the Third Reich.
However, the ineptness of the American assault aside, it too would have been successful without Shoshanna’s plot because Landa was of a mind to win the battle and not the war. He knew nothing of Shoshanna’s plot, or she most surely would have met the fate of von Hammersmark and the Basterds would have had nothing to blunder into. So its existence didn’t affect his decision to throw in with the Basterds at all. The bombs would have gone off, killing Hitler, Goebbels, and plenty of other Nazis. The Third Reich would have been decapitated and the war over, either way.
Indeed, if Landa hadn’t been chasing the inept Basterds and the chance for life after the Third Reich they represented for him, he might have discovered Shoshanna’s plot and foiled it, since there was no acceptable out for him there. So the success of each plot, unaware of the other, depended equally on each other’s existence.
And this, I believe, is crucial to Tarantino’s whole point. Two separate plots to end the Third Reich converge in this one time and place, and both are wildly successful beyond all realistic measures, ending together in an violent bloody orgy of destruction presided over by Shoshanna’s Wizard of Oz-like laughing visage even as she lies dead. While carefully making it clear that the Nazis clearly were deserving of all the revenge and revenge fantasies one could wish to be bestow upon them for being such lethal antisemitic fucks, Tarantino is asking a simple question: will Operation Kino ever be over?
That’s a lot of dick.
If less is always more, then least is most and nothing is everything. Something’s wrong here.
Saint-Exupéry flew planes for a living; one too many parts taken out and you’re stuck in the Sahara like he was once. The problem today (speaking as a musician, not a filmmaker) is that people generally don’t know when to stop taking things out, or (even more often) don’t bother to put anything in in the first place. In order to take something out, it’s got to be put in first–and the decision to take something out should be harder, not easier, than the decision to put it in.