In the world of the film fan, there is often the sense that the director’s cut of a movie is the more desirable version, since the term implies that it is more closely aligned with the vision of the individual at the helm of the production. The cinephile is expected to have at least seen the director’s cut of classic movies, or their favourite movies, if not have a well-rounded, reasoned opinion about it. While the director’s cut is seen as the more artistically pure version, the theatrical cut is often regarded as being the commercial cut – the studio-approved, corporate version released for mass consumption.
The fascination with director’s cuts is based in the desire to see more of what you love, or are interested in. As a fan of a movie, who doesn’t want to see additional footage that might provide further insight into this particular story we so enjoy. This is why we sit wade through special features on DVDs and Blu-rays, after all. But, here’s the question – is more always better? Do director’s cuts always succeed in enhancing the experience of watching a particular movie? As with all art, movies are subjective, regardless of which version you are watching. What works for one viewer is problematic for another, but the point is, if the movie worked well enough without this additional footage, maybe it would denigrate the quality of the movie if it was added back in and re-cut.
Not every director’s cut is superior to the theatrical version. The additional footage may be interesting to a fan, but in terms of the quality of the film, sometimes the theatrical version is really the best one to be had. Watching a director’s vision of what should have been might add insight, but it doesn’t necessarily add enjoyment. In fact, sometimes, it just adds more confusion. Here, then, are five films where the theatrical cut was arguably better than the director’s cut.