As is, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star Is Born is the current Oscar frontrunner and one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. But a different, longer cut of the film could be in the works. At 135 minutes, A Star Is Born is already a long movie, but it’s not the longest version of A Star Is Born—the restored iteration of the 1954 version runs 176 minutes and the 1976 adaptation is 140 minutes long. There’s a lot of story to tell in chronicling the rise of the titular star, and to do it just right so that the audience tracks the emotional arc of the characters, there’s a certain degree of patience that’s necessary when it comes to the narrative.
But it sounds like Cooper’s version of the film went through multiple iterations in post-production before he settled on the rapturous final cut, as cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who does stunning work as the film’s DP) revealed to The Film Stage that the film evolved significantly during editing:
“I mean, they were different cuts. For me, I see an early cut, then see its evolution. Bradley was working on it — intensely working on it — to find a flow. It’s a rather long film because the music is in it. Things had to go so the music could take place; it couldn’t all exist at the same time. We shot, probably, more movie than is in the movie because of that. I think, editorially, he really started to shave it down to the bare essence of what the love story was. And that’s really all he was doing — making sure that was his priority — and you have to make some really tough decisions. Some performances.”
But here’s where it gets really interesting. Libatique revealed that he’s under the impression that a new, longer cut of the film is in the works:
“I think they’re actually doing a new cut, a director’s cut, and putting some stuff back in. I think there’s always the concern about length, but, for him, I think it was mostly the concern about, ‘When am I stepping outside the forward narrative of this love story, and when am I stepping outside the idea that you have one character ascending, another descending.’ I think that’s all he was doing when doing different cuts, is trying to find that soul.”
This A Star Is Born extended cut has yet to be confirmed by Warner Bros. or Cooper, and it’s possible Libatique is mistaken. I’d be surprised if, in the midst of a major Oscar campaign for the film as-is, Cooper released a “director’s cut.” But since music is such an integral part of the film, I could see Warner Bros. putting together a cut with extended music sequences for home video.
Or perhaps Cooper does have a longer director’s cut in the works. At this point it’s unclear, and again I’d be surprised if anything was released soon given that the Oscar campaign hinges upon the version of the film that’s currently in theaters. If Cooper and WB said, “Here’s a different version of the movie that we consider a director’s cut—i.e. Cooper’s preferred version,” that would undercut the awards run of the theatrical cut.
So my inkling is that when the film hits Blu-ray and Digital HD, there will be a version with extended musical sequences, since the soundtrack features the full versions of some of the songs featured in the movie.
Whatever it is, I’ll buy it. A Star Is Born is one of my favorite films of a the year and a remarkable debut from Cooper, whose filmmaking is simply stellar. The direction, performances, songs, and cinematography are all top-notch, which is why the film is riding so high during the Oscar race right now.
Here’s hoping we learn more about this potential A Star Is Born “extended cut” soon, but in the meantime check out The Film Stage’s full interview with Libatique. It’s incredibly insightful with regards to how this terrific film came together.