Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Hints of adulation are bouncing around the Internet for the marvelous job done restoring the “Indiana Jones” movies for DVD release. This is surprising, since on Oct. 23 I jeered the work as inadequate and embarrassing (then found a link at my.bicycle about how “South Park” saved the movies from extensive revision by the filmmakers).

Either way, notable in their absence were deleted scenes from the three movies. Although there was a disc of extras, its content was the stuff that used to inspire people to dig for remote controls and switch from Showtime to C-Span. “Making of” documentaries with bright jazz and images of directors saying “Cut!” from canvas chairs. Actors proclaiming the director and their peers to be geniuses -- and fun. Producers desperately trying to claim credit without appearing desperate.

Go figure: This is now the stuff consumers want.

I just want deleted scenes. I crave behind-the-scenes information (Donnie Darko’s pills were placebos!) and the sense of privilege they bestow (To people without DVD players, there is still a lost episode of “Family Guy”!). I’ve read movie scripts for the same reasons, and you know what? An uncut “Duck Soup” would actually have made sense.

Bitterness over the lack of deleted scenes for the “Indiana Jones” movies is partly because they’ll surely be released, eventually -- to those willing to pay again.

But despite the cottage industry that’s grown around director’s cuts -- “The Lord of the Rings” extended offerings are the standard-bearers, but they’re certainly nothing new -- I’m not advocating any extended-edition “Indiana Jones” movies, especially as it’s only the first one that rouses any passion. The reaction to seeing deleted scenes is almost always one of relief, from the unbelievably long and talky scenes cut from “Dogma” to the surprising irrelevance of those cut from the Gary Sinise-John Malkovich “Of Mice and Men.”

An exception would be the scenes cut from “Erin Brockovich,” which dramatize and clarify the reasons behind her illness during the movie. The suspicion is that the implications of those scenes didn’t meet the standard of truth set for the rest of the script.

Regardless, as an editor I applaud the instinct to cut.

As an entrepreneur, however, I am offering for sale my entire collection of blog postings, but with all the redundant points and needless verbiage deleted from them before publishing. It’s expensive, and insanely dull, but vital for the completist.

No comments: