The Outsiders is such a wonderful but strange movie — an art-film for kids, a teenage Passion play, a cross between Huckleberry Finn and the Shangri-Las’ ”The Leader of the Pack,” and a movie that dares to invest teenage life with all the epic melodrama and self-importance that teenagers themselves perceive their lives to have.

It’s no wonder that the film, like the novel, has been a perennial favorite for kids. I’m interested to see whether the film holds up for me as an adult, especially now that Francis Ford Coppola is releasing a director’s cut onto DVD and into select theaters, with about 20 more minutes of footage and period rock ‘n’ roll in place of much of his father’s orchestral score.

Coppola talks about the history of the project here (fun fact: he chose to adapt the book after receiving a petition initiated by a junior high school librarian). The cast of relative unknowns, who all went on to greater success — including C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, and Emilio Estevez — gets the where-are-they-now treatment here. Best of all, novelist S.E. Hinton, whose reclusiveness and refusal to grant interviews has made her into the J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon of young-adult literature, breaks her silence in this New York Times interview.