Back in July, I tried out a potential new idea called “Clear Presets”, wherein I’d take a break from all the comedy writing to look at stuff in entertainment that I’d like to debate in a semi-serious manner, or at least more seriously than I do anything else on here. I liked the idea, though I’m not really sure how well it was received.
If you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other stuff here to enjoy, such as the Detective Ed Adventures, the How To Guides and everything else, so it’s not like the comedy is forever gone and consequences will never be the same. In any case, let’s get to the second Clear Presets.
Clear Presets: Extended Editions (The Extended Edition)
As much as people have complained about the quality of cinema this year, I’d have to say I’ve gotten plenty of enjoyment out of it, what with Four Lions proving to be a fantastic, unpredictable comedy, Toy Story 3 pulling at the heartstrings, Inception messing with your mind, and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World being one of the more amazing films I have seen in a long while, even if it didn’t do so well cinematically. Add onto that list Get Him To The Greek, a fantastic spin-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (one of my favourite films), which managed to shatter my expectations by not being terrible and actually being consistently hilarious, wacky and unpredictable with a brilliant soundtrack consisting of songs by the fictional characters and bands in the film playing like a Greatest Hits compilation of Aldous Snow (played by Russell Brand) and his fictional brand Infant Sorrow. It’s also (to my knowledge) the only film out of those I’ve listed that will be an extended edition (or in this film’s case, the “Extended Party Edition”) when released on DVD.
I think it may just be something that happens more with comedy films when they’re released onto DVDs, but I’m noticing more and more often that for whatever reason, the ten or more extra minutes of the film that weren’t good enough for the cinematic release suddenly become good enough to be a selling point to convince you to buy it later on. It’s not by all means a negative thing, as it at least gives potential customers an incentive to get more bang for their buck than other movies released onto DVD, but there’s several things about the whole idea that I need to write out and present in a potentially debatable manner.
Firstly, crafting a film is obviously something that takes a lot of time and effort in order to make sure it flows effectively and makes sense without plot holes and to make sure there’s nothing overly superfluous that doesn’t negatively affect the pacing. Though obviously, not every film or game gets by without plot holes or parts that drag on too much. For example, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2’s story was a train wreck with enough plotholes for the eight writers and the writing assistant to fall into at least twice over, and films like the Book of Eli or The Informant! drag on for their entire length and felt like they both should have been cut entirely. Mainly, scenes get cut because they are either detrimental to the flow of the final product, or are mostly superfluous, the latter being most common in comedies.
Sometimes important details are cut out and put into the deleted scenes, which then cause flaws and plotholes in the cinematic version, as this Cracked.com article explains: http://www.cracked.com/article_18720_7-famous-movie-flaws-that-were-explained-in-deleted-scenes.html
Which is a big advantage of DVDs and post-cinematic releases, as they allow the film to correct themselves later on if there were any potential problems before, allow more back story into characters’ motivations, or fill in the plotholes before you fall into them.
Go on, give me a reason not to wax lyrical about Cracked.com…
Of course, it’s a delicate thing to get right, and therefore there are presumably going to be massive differences in how the film is affected with or without the scenes, or else they wouldn’t have been omitted in the first place. But it just brings me back to the same question, namely, if they weren’t good enough, why are they important now? Or, if they’re good enough now, why weren’t they good enough for inclusion before?
I wondered if it was anything like is sometimes the case in video games nowadays, wherein scenes or parts that weren’t finished in time for the game’s general release sometimes become downloadable content later on, such as some of the content released for Mass Effect 2 post-release, or other games. But then filming is done way before it eventually hits cinemas and so I wondered if it would then be scenes that they didn’t have time to polish properly in post-production, and could put onto the DVD. But then it wouldn’t be the case, as normally the content cut would traditionally be deleted scenes, and so the deleted scenes on the DVD are scenes that they didn’t even find good enough to put on an extended version. Also, it’d be way too expensive to retroactively add things they weren’t already filmed, unlike in games where the assets are already there, and it becomes relatively cheaper to create new content post-release, and Game of the Year Editions sometimes become the go-to version for the true experience.
Another way of looking at the whole thing becomes “Which version is the definitive version?”
Is it the cinematic version for coming first, and being the most polished product? Or is it the extended version, with the extra content and the advantage of being the version that lasts longer due to the limited run of films in cinema and the much longer run of the film when released outside cinemas? Most likely, it’ll come down to which version you prefer. But how much harder does it become to remember what wasn’t in the original version when the alternative version is the one in heavier circulation? In most cases, the version released afterwards becomes the only way to see the original film short of things like Sky Box Office or runs on TV, so does that make it the definitive version, or does the version broadcast on TV afterwards stay the definitive version?
I’d argue the point that it comes down to how it is worded. If a post-cinema release is referred to as an “Extended Edition”, then it’s up for debate, and it could be argued that the cinematic cut was potentially the “proper” version seeing as that would be the one the director considered the best version to release primarily, and then the extended version just rightfully gives you more for your money later on. However, if the extended or alternative version comes out as a “Director’s Cut”, then that would then become the definitive cut of the film, as it will be the one that the Director himself considers best. As George Lucas explained when creating the special editions of the Star Wars Trilogy; “No film is ever finished, it is only abandoned.”
Of course, you’re more than free to discuss this further, what with it being the point of me writing this and all, and I’m intrigued as to what other people think of it all.
I’ll leave this with a potential compromise. Why not make it a standard on DVDs or Blu Ray that films with extended content from the cinematic release can toggle that extended content when they watch? Surely, it wouldn’t be difficult to do, as it’s easy to provide Director commentaries or subtitles on top of the existing film. I know some have both the cinematic and extended version on the same disk or within the same package, or have what I’m proposing, but why not make it the standard that you could go to the options menu and decide which version you watch? That’d solve it for me, in any case.