Resin Heroes

What’s the official version of a movie?

This has been something that’s been bouncing around my head for some time now; what’s the official version of a movie? That is, when there are generally three versions of popular films — the cut that was released in theaters, one of the movie for TV with cuts for language and violence and sometime later an “extended edition” or director’s cut of the movie  too — which one of these is the “official” version of the movie, the one we’d want to preserve for future generations?

aliens_lgAt first glance, I’d say the cut that was released in theaters is the official version of the film. That anything that comes after is simply an addition/deletion to this preferred version of the movie. But then again wouldn’t the director’s cut be the official version, since, well, the director of the movie sees this as his/her most complete version of the film?

With a movie like Star Wars I’d say that the official version of the film is the one that was released in theaters in 1977. That whatever came after, be it retitling the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981 or in 1997 and 2004 adding additional special effects and scenes to the movie, didn’t improve on the original but instead were just changes to something that didn’t need changed in the first place.

Then again with a movie like Aliens I’d say that the official version of the film is James Cameron’s director’s cut  originally released in 1992 on Laserdisc. This version of Aliens has additional scenes that were removed from the theatrical version of the film to cut down the running time but when added back serve to clear up some story points and add depth to characters that was only hinted at in the original.

But what about a movie like Blade Runner that has a theatrical version, a director’s cut in ’92 and then a “final cut” in 2007? Which version of this movie is official? I don’t think it’d be the theatrical version since this is a cut of the movie no one from audiences to director to stars that seems to care for. But then which version of the director’s cut would be official then? Is it the ’92 version that seemed to be director Ridley Scott’s final statement on the film — until 2007 when the movie was remastered for better sound and hi def?

SupermanIStyleBIAnd that’s not taking into account movies edited for television — or the dreaded, “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited for content.” And sometimes too the edited versions that air on TV don’t just have things removed they also have additional content added to them too. Like with Superman II that had somewhere between 17 and 24 minutes of material that wasn’t in the film version added to the TV version. Or the odd The Godfather Saga that’s still shown from time to time that edits The Godfather and The Godfather Part II into a seven hour long “mini-series” that’s told in chronological order but did have involvement of Francis Ford Coppola?

And none of this takes into account various edits made to films for international audiences. Be it the cursing cut out of The Goonies for the UK or even characters and whole subplots added to Iron Man 3 for Chinese audiences.

Here’s the thing, the more I write about this the less I feel like I know what the “official” version of any movie really is. I would argue that whenever the director of the film isn’t involved in cutting/adding to a movie it means that version most certainly isn’t official. But whether the version of the movie released in theaters or a director’s cut is the official version I just don’t know.

Maybe this whole thing boils down to personal preference at some point?