It seems that the epic movie genre has made it's triumphant
return. While many of us may have been too young to recall
the days when long movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia,
Gone With the Wind and Ben Hur, we do recall
a number of movies that have been recently re-released with
missing footage from their original theatrical debuts. This
leads me to wonder why they didn't come out with all of the
footage originally. What makes the edited footage worth showing
It appears that during the date 70's, 80's and even the
early 90's, a number of studio executives decided that the
American viewer had a short attention span, so many movies
were trimmed to hit the theatres at or around the two-hour
mark. Very few films (Dances With Wolves) managed to
retain their length without substantial editing. We only now
realize how widespread this is by taking a look at how many
films are being re-released in either the theatre or on DVD
with the edited footage.
While the studios alone were not to totally blame, you can't
help but wonder how much film was left unshown due to decisions
made higher up. Take the film Legend for example. While
it was a fairly decent hit, well over an hour of the movie
was cut because the studio felt it made the movie too long.
In my opinion, I think the film could have been better and
that extra hour would have helped deepen the story. Aliens
even came out later with twenty more minutes which I felt
gave the story a little more flavor.
Other films, including Star Wars and even E.T.
The Extraterrestrial have come out with footage missing
from the original, whether that decision be the directors
or the studios. This is not to say that the practice is over.
Recent films like the X-Men
and even Queen of
the Damned were trimmed for the theatre, leaving both
films feeling rather short and even a bit thin story-wise.
Thanks to epic films like Braveheart, it seems that
the studios are feeling a little more lax about the length
of films. In recent years, the number of films being released
that were over the two hour mark jumped, and most of them
were long for good reasons - epic stories that are fully realized.
Of course, there have been some long movies that were just
too long for their own good, but you have to take the bad
with the good.
It seems that the one thing that is still missing from lengthy
epics recently is the Intermission - the 10-15 minute break
in long movies so that viewers could run out, get more food
from the concession stand or use the facilities so they wouldn't
miss any part of the film. I believe that this courtesy has
just gone by the wayside, partially because of the lapse in
long features for some time. Also, it may be a byproduct of
producers not wanting to cause a break in the flow of the
film for the sake of an intermission. And I can understand
their reasons behind this. Building up character depth and
story tension takes effort and putting a break in the film
forces film makers to potentially start over after the intermission,
sometimes even defeating the efforts of the first half of
I guess the point I'm try to make is that film makers should
be allowed to make movies as long or as short as they deem
necessary. I'd hate to see a film trimmed down to make it
to the theatres only to have it come out on DVD/VHS with the
scenes that were cut from it for theatrical release. Our attention-spans
aren't as short as people think. Give us the film you wanted