It is seldom that the director, actors, and executive producer of a film beg the public to refuse to go see their movie. But in the case of Dying of the Light, this is neither a publicity stunt nor a weird request: Paul Schrader, Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, and Nicolas Winding Refn have an apparently good reason for wishing audiences to boycott their latest film.
According to a recent Facebook post by Dying of the Light helmer Paul Schrader, the film was “taken away from me, edited, scored, and mixed” without the director’s input. This has resulted in Schrader, Cage, Yelchin, and Winding Refn deciding to make their annoyance known, down to wearing “non-disparagement” t-shirts that indicate they’re not allowed to say anything against the film.
The producer, Gary Hirsch, has claimed that the film was taken away from Schrader after he refused to make what were considered necessary changes to his original cut, and that the “more conventional” version is simply a tightened version of the film that Schrader delivered.
It’s always disturbing when producers and distributors take a film out of the control of the director, and especially disturbing that the actors and executive producer have joined in the call against it. At the same time, I do think we have to consider what director we’re dealing with here. Schrader is no stranger to controversy, but that in itself should not prejudice anyone against him. He has not, however, managed to deliver particularly coherent films over the past few decades. His last effort, The Canyons, was an embarrassment to almost all involved. So while it’s hard to say that the studio was right to take Dying of the Light away from him, we might not have been fans of his cut anyways.
Every viewer can decide for his or herself about whether or not to boycott Dying of the Light, though, as the film is set for release in the US come December 5.