In May, Paramount Home Entertainment released Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 4K UHD on a disc featuring two versions of the film and boatloads of bonus materials. I’d seen most of the extras, and the movie looks better than ever, but it wasn’t until this release that I realized that an Extended Cut even existed (it was first released back in 2005). But then again, why wouldn’t there be one? After all, Ridley Scott has done more tinkering to his movies – or perhaps more charitably, taken more advantage of the myriad opportunities of home video – than almost any living filmmaker. After all, the saga of Blade Runner, perhaps even more than George Lucas’ death-by-a-thousand-semi-invisible-revisions Star Wars iterations, would seem to define and encapsulate the medium’s possibilities. The film appeared on the cover of Video Watchdog in January 1993, shortly after Scott’s storied “Director’s Cut” debuted in limited theatrical release the year before, and neither that film nor the concept of alternate versions of films for home media releases would be the same.
Regardless, if Scott doesn’t have the most “director’s cuts” or alternate versions of his films in official release, then certainly he should be among the top-ranked contenders. (He has the advantage of a long and varied filmography, as well as considerable success in reshaping his earlier work to great critical and commercial success.) With that in mind, we decided to rank all of these different versions, with a few considerations in mind: What are the differences? Is the alternate cut better than the theatrical version? How does one Extended Edition compare to another? And most importantly, does it change or improve upon the overall effect of the film? Again, these are actual completed versions of his films, not workprints or assembly cuts, and they do not include deleted scenes or extra footage that he decided against or never got around to officially adding to his films (such as the much-ballyhooed, never-realized Prometheus Extended Edition). Mind you, the point isn’t necessarily to relitigate his “lesser” films or remind you about the great ones. And it’s not a ranking or comparison of these movies to one another; I do not think Legend is better than Alien. But whether you’re considering revisiting one, some or all of Scott’s films, or if you’re just curious what you might be missing when that branching option pops up on your DVD copy, this list will hopefully be a helpful guide.