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'Avatar' special edition: I hate special editions. Director's cuts, too.

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avatar-lang-samThis item has nothing to do with Mel Gibson. It has something to do with Avatar, but only tangentially, since I’ve had a confession to make ever since I read, a few days ago, that James Cameron and Fox are preparing a theatrical re-release of the Blue People Chronicles next month in a “special edition” that will contain eight minutes of extra footage. The philosophical observations that the original 162-minute version evidently felt a tad skimpy to Cameron have been duly appreciated.

Here’s what I want to declare: I hate special editions. Even when they’re good. I also hate extended editions, collector’s versions…whatever it is they call it when a movie that was once released as finished (and for which a movie-lover has paid good money to buy a ticket) is subsequently considered not-quite-as-finished as the new version now on $ale. I especially hate “director’s cuts,” with the implication that until their triumphant appearance, artistic liberty has been trampled upon by terrible forces of commerce. Never mind that this is often true; it’s still got the ring of pretension. I read a lot of books, and aside from Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I have rarely found one called the “author’s edition.” I go to the theater a lot, and I haven’t seen any production billed as the “playwright’s edition.”

Limited liability statement: The above opinion does not apply to the superiority of Apocalypse Now Redux; the 1998 re-release of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil brilliantly edited by Walter Murch; the final, final, final, final cut of Blade Runner; and whatever you count as your favorite director’s cut.

Hey, what is your favorite director’s cut, and how is it different from what you saw the first time? Really? Alternatively, if you were allowed to add eight minutes to Avatar, where would you stick them? I think I’d like more scenes of Sigourney Weaver smoking, just to show, you know, how crummy Earth is compared with Pandora.