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The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release 
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Post The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
I just stumbled upon this news story relating to Michel Gondry's new film Mood Indigo, which is being cut by 30 minutes for all audiences outside of France:

http://www.slashfilm.com/michel-gondrys ... l-release/

I find this a little depressing, and it's only the latest in what seems like a constant stream of news stories here in 2013 of foreign releases going under the knife in preparation for American audiences. The version of Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster that will be shown here around the end of the month will be 15 minutes shorter than its original release.

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/ ... n-20130203

Most troubling for me is the news concerning Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, which is having 20 minutes removed from it to "remove much of the character work to make the film play more like a traditional action movie." Apparently the studio's goal is to "make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma."

http://www.slashfilm.com/the-weinstein- ... re-stupid/

Maybe this is more of a big deal to me than to other people, but what do you think? If you're interested in any of these films, does it bother you that the cut version is the only option you'll have if you want to see them in theaters? Would you consider importing an overseas DVD/Bluray release if it offered the uncut film? Has this been common practice in the past, or is this a newer development? Do studios actually care about people seeing foreign releases in theaters anymore?

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:26 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
You're screwed either way. American distributors barely give a shit about these movies as it is. If you pay for them, you're implicitly endorsing their alteration of the film's original presentation. If you don't pay for them, you're implicitly endorsing the distributors' position that these movies don't merit the same attention as their domestic stuff.

It's an insult to the audience, really--an insult to our intelligence. The implication is that we're too dumb and unworldly to deal with this stuff. I don't think it's an insult out of malice; it's just a handful of wealthy old white guys who think this way and don't bother to consider that other people think in other ways.

And an insult though it may be, I would lean toward paying the money to go see these movies. The only possibility of getting decent, unaltered distribution of these movies starts with demonstrating that we give a shit about them in the first place. So we need to speak the only language that these distribution companies can understand.

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:04 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
This is why I bought both parts of Red Cliff rather than the drastically cut American release.

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:26 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
This isn't always a bad thing though. Did Cinema Paradiso need to be 170 minutes long? No it did not.

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:31 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
JamesKunz wrote:
This isn't always a bad thing though. Did Cinema Paradiso need to be 170 minutes long? No it did not.

Agreed, there are some films that benefit from being cut.


Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:04 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
I think it's worth objecting on principle to films that were cut without the involvement of their makers. If I'm going to see a film based on the reputation of the director or the creative team--which I often do--I want to see the movie that reflects their vision, not the vision of a third party who was brought in after the fact.

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:15 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
Ken wrote:
I think it's worth objecting on principle to films that were cut without the involvement of their makers. If I'm going to see a film based on the reputation of the director or the creative team--which I often do--I want to see the movie that reflects their vision, not the vision of a third party who was brought in after the fact.


Yeahhhhhh I agree. I know, I know. I just wanted to take a rare opportunity to both criticize Cinema Paradiso AND be a contrarian

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:35 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
Actually I go from liking the theatrical cut to really fall in love with the director's cut of Cinema Paradiso.


Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:38 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
Ken wrote:
I think it's worth objecting on principle to films that were cut without the involvement of their makers. If I'm going to see a film based on the reputation of the director or the creative team--which I often do--I want to see the movie that reflects their vision, not the vision of a third party who was brought in after the fact.


This happens a lot without us knowing it though, with Hollywood films too. How many event movies recently have been an hour shorter than their director's initial cut? Almost all of them. Tarantino originally envisioned Inglourious Basterds as a 9 hour trilogy. It's like everything ultimately ends up being streamlined. As long as the cuts aren't minute, changing the rhythm completely, I can live with it I suppose. Another relevant example might be Chen Kaige's The Promise. It actually took me a couple viewings to realize I didn't like it, but the storytelling is hopelessly uneven no matter which version it is. The acting is sometimes good, but the movie as a whole is so painfully cartoony that it makes Kung Fu Hustle look like a documentary. Grandmaster's action scenes have received a lot of hype abroad, that alone should be worth a trip to the theater.


Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:43 am
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
JamesKunz wrote:
Ken wrote:
I think it's worth objecting on principle to films that were cut without the involvement of their makers. If I'm going to see a film based on the reputation of the director or the creative team--which I often do--I want to see the movie that reflects their vision, not the vision of a third party who was brought in after the fact.


Yeahhhhhh I agree. I know, I know. I just wanted to take a rare opportunity to both criticize Cinema Paradiso AND be a contrarian

Shenanigans. SHENANIGANS ON THIS MAN.

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Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:58 am
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
It sounds at least like Wong Kar Wai had complete creative control over his different versions of Grandmaster. And honestly, from what I've read, it sounds like the US version may be the more interesting of the two, despite being 15 minutes shorter. Based on what Wong says in interviews, it's easier to understand why Weinstein asked that he cut it.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:11 am
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
MGamesCook wrote:
It sounds at least like Wong Kar Wai had complete creative control over his different versions of Grandmaster. And honestly, from what I've read, it sounds like the US version may be the more interesting of the two, despite being 15 minutes shorter. Based on what Wong says in interviews, it's easier to understand why Weinstein asked that he cut it.


Of the three examples I listed in my first post, the scenario surrounding The Grandmaster is for me the least problematic. As you said, at least in this case the filmmaker had their own say as to how the film would be cut. I think it was critic Glenn Kenny who wrote somewhere that he had seen both cuts and that each of them had their own merits. So this is one case where I won't have much of any problem with seeing it in the theater.

Snowpiercer is a more difficult case. Of the three films I listed, it seems like the one that would have the best shot at attracting more mainstream audiences, with its recognizable/mostly English-speaking cast and sci-fi premise. But the quotes about it being turned into more of an action film, removing character development and adding voice-overs to the beginning and the end, sound like fairly substantial reworkings (echoes of Blade Runner?). The film is already out in South Korea, and could be released on DVD/Bluray there and possibly elsewhere before it even hits theaters here in the U.S. This might be a case where I choose not to see it in theaters and seek out some kind of alternate means instead, something I've rarely done in the past.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:01 am
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
From the Dissolve, concerning Snowpiercer and Weinstein:

Quote:
An article by Asian film expert Tony Rayns published in British magazine Sight & Sound provides some new tidbits on the ongoing battle over the cuts Harvey Weinstein wants Korean director Bong Joon-ho to make to his latest film, Snowpiercer.

Rayns says he first heard from Bong back in July, when the director emailed him to say he was angry to learn that the Locarno and Toronto festivals had been forbidden from showing his film because the “TWC cut” of it had not been finalized. When he met with Bong later that month, the director said he’d been asked to watch a shorter cut that was meant to eliminate character detail and turn Snowpiercer, a complex and highly allegorical post-apocalyptic sci-fi film, into “a more conventional action-thriller.” Bong was then asked to put together his own abbreviated version, complete with clarifying bookended voiceovers. Weinstein even suggested that his “friend,” author Neil Gaiman, be brought in to write these new components, a suggestion Bong “quickly rejected.”


I just don't understand Harvey. As someone who has seen the film, it has a title card at the beginning, for god sake, describing how the world has come to this point. Also, although the ending isn't exactly close-ended, it is no Inception, and even a kid can surmise where it would go next. I can only see the reason for voice-over at the end being that Weinstein want a more Hollywood-styled, emotional closure that the wordless ending lacks. And throughout the movie, the movie hasn't exactly been subtle or surreal about the story or its message either. It's big, brash, and in-your-face, even though you can read all kind of allegory into the proceeding. So his reason for the cut is pretty irrational and irritating.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:45 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
Blonde Almond wrote:
I just stumbled upon this news story relating to Michel Gondry's new film Mood Indigo, which is being cut by 30 minutes for all audiences outside of France:

http://www.slashfilm.com/michel-gondrys ... l-release/

I find this a little depressing, and it's only the latest in what seems like a constant stream of news stories here in 2013 of foreign releases going under the knife in preparation for American audiences. The version of Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster that will be shown here around the end of the month will be 15 minutes shorter than its original release.

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/ ... n-20130203

Most troubling for me is the news concerning Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, which is having 20 minutes removed from it to "remove much of the character work to make the film play more like a traditional action movie." Apparently the studio's goal is to "make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma."

http://www.slashfilm.com/the-weinstein- ... re-stupid/

Maybe this is more of a big deal to me than to other people, but what do you think? If you're interested in any of these films, does it bother you that the cut version is the only option you'll have if you want to see them in theaters? Would you consider importing an overseas DVD/Bluray release if it offered the uncut film? Has this been common practice in the past, or is this a newer development? Do studios actually care about people seeing foreign releases in theaters anymore?


I don't think this is new at all. For example, Das Boot, when it was first released in theatres 1981 in Germany and 1982 in the US, had nearly an hour's footage cut, which was subsequently restored in a Director's Cut back in 1997. There are numerous other examples of similar cuts made to various foreign films over the years.

What's perhaps more disturbing is the news that the cuts to these films were made without the consultation or involvement of the original directors or producers, but even this is not new at all. For example, consider the struggle that Terry Gilliam went through in getting his vision of Brazil released, and that was an English-language film.

It is also worth noting the condescending attitude of the film studios in their decision to cut certain films so that audiences in "Iowa and Oklahoma" can understand the film -- the implication being that Iowans and Oklahomans are too stupid to understand a film in their original cut and so need to be presented with a "simplified" version. I'm surprised more educated Iowans or Oklahomans don't take umbrage in this.

PS: Just in case some of you may be tempted to ask, yes, I have met highly intelligent and educated people from Iowa and Oklahoma.


Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:14 pm
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Post Re: The Practice Of Cutting Foreign Films For U.S. Release
StatGuy2000 wrote:
Blonde Almond wrote:

PS: Just in case some of you may be tempted to ask, yes, I have met highly intelligent and educated people from Iowa and Oklahoma.



From Iowa and Oklahoma, sure, but are they still in either state?



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Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:50 pm
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