Martin Scorsese has the freedom these days to release longer-than-average movies. The Wolf of Wall Street was three hours, Silence was two hours and 41 minutes, and his new movie, The Irishman, is three hours and 29 minutes. But if you’re looking for cuts of Scorsese’s movies that are even longer, you’re out of luck. Scorsese has no interest in releasing longer versions of his movies, and he says the term “director’s cut” is often misunderstood or misused telling EW:
“The director’s cut is the film that’s released — unless it’s been taken away from the director by the financiers and the studio,” Scorsese says. “[The director] has made their decisions based on the process they were going through at the time. There could be money issues, there could be somebody that dies [while making] the picture, the studio changes heads and the next person hates it. Sometimes [a director says], ‘I wish I could go back and put it all back together.’ All these things happen … But I do think once the die is cast, you have to go with it and say, ‘That’s the movie I made under those circumstances.’”
And I think that’s a fair assessment. Filmmaking involves collaboration and compromise, and while there’s always stuff left on the cutting room floor, a “director’s cut” shouldn’t just be, “Everything I wanted to include because it’s all genius.”
Scorsese provided an example of when fighting for a director’s cut matters because you’re getting a cut out to audiences as opposed to a version that was butchered by the studio:
“It’s an interesting thing,” he continued. “We would have loved to see an extended version of a number of films in the past where scenes were cut out. Now [those scenes were] cut out from the director’s cut, not from the rough cut. There’s a big difference. [Sometimes to] capitalize on [a film’s popularity] and exploit it they say, ‘This is the director’s cut.’ You should take a look at Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. I saw the full version a few days before it opened at a meeting and it was two hours and 20 minutes or so. Then MGM released their version and it was 90 minutes. We all said, ‘Oh no, it was a masterpiece,’ and wished it could be saved. The editor saved a copy and what you see now is what we saw in that meeting. That is a director’s cut. And if the editor said there was another 20 minutes that Peckinpah wanted to keep in there, I would have loved to see those 20 minutes. So I understand the idea of an audience wanting to be entertained for another 20 minutes in that world.”
I understand that fans can equate quantity with quality and that you want more of a good thing, but that’s just a desire for content rather than appreciation of the film that exists. Some may argue that the real director’s cut is the one done without any hinderance to the director’s vision, but as Scorsese says, that never exists because there are so many obstacles before you even get to the editing stage. Simply throwing in more material may make for an interesting experience, but labeling it “director’s cut” is more of a marketing move than a true understanding of what goes into filmmaking.
The Irishman hits theaters on November 1st and arrives on Netflix on November 27th.