' ' Cinema Romantico: Wasn't The First Time Definitive Enough?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Wasn't The First Time Definitive Enough?

As someone who cherishes the film "Last of the Mohicans" so much he took a vacation to specifically to see the sites where it was filmed it rather surprises me that I only recently learned it was being re-released on Blu-Ray (today) as the (ahem) "Director's Definitive Cut." Now Michael Mann - its writer and director - is a genius. Flat-out genius. My favorite filmmaker. But this recutting of my favorite movie of all time has gotta stop.
I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
In 1999 Michael Mann released the "Director's Expanded Edition" of "Last of the Mohicans." Perhaps the changes to the un-obsessives were miniscule or even un-noticeable. But to someone who - much to the chagrin of those who know him - can work lines like "Got nothing better to do on the lake today, major?" into everyday conversation, well, I noticed changes, and this is to say that in the "Director's Expanded Edition" the line "Got nothing better to do on the lake today, major?" had vanished.

The minor additions when the Mohicans arrive at the Camerons' cabin in the beginning are just fine and the small supplements to General Montcalm's first scene aren't so bad and I don't mind the additions to Chingachcook's monologue at the end (the scene functions fine with them and without them).  However....

Remmber right before Hawkeye's utterly immortal "Stay alive!" speech when Cora says to him "If the worst happens, if only one of us survives, something of the other does too"? Except in the "Expanded" edition this line was gone with most of Adrien Brody's performance in "The Thin Red Line." A word: Travesty.

Remember when Hawkeye and Uncas and Chingachcook are sprinting through the forests to locate and rescue Cora and Alice and the soundtrack is awash in the sounds of "I Will Find You" by Clannad? Except in the "Expanded" edition Clannad is cold chillin' with Kevin Costner in "The Big Chill." Un-ac-cept-a-ble.

Remember when General Munro and General Montcalm have their parlay overlooking Lake Hudson and Montcalm makes the offer that Munro can surrender the fort and he and his men may leave the fort alive and fully armed "so long as they return to England" and then Munro speaks with his officers and Munro gazes at his men and then says that exceptionally incredible line "Death and honor are thought to be the same....but today I have learned that sometimes they are not" and then Munro turns back toward Montcalm and the scene ends? Except in the "Expanded" edition we have to endure several agonizing, needless lines of dialogue Munro says to Montcalm, including "The fort is yours" which is the same line Munro says to Montcalm in the later scene when we see the British surrendering the fort and marching away. Now this second scene is just repeating what the earlier scene said, thereby negating the need of the second scene! GAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!! How could a perfectionist like Michael Mann approve such a sham of storytelling???

Remember that dazzling conversation Hawkeye and Cora have on their trek to Fort William Henry and he says "My father warned me about people like you"? Well then, of course, Cora says "He did?" and Hawkeye says "He said do not try to understand them and do not try to make them understand you - that is because they are a breed apart and make no sense." Except in the "Expanded" edition this little exchange is excised. Euthanized. Put out to pasture. What the........ How the hell do you cut that part?! Huh?! Answer me! ANSWER ME!!!! I SAID-

Woah, I think I'm having a heart attack....hold on....bear with me....wait....nope. Never mind. False alarm. I'm okay. Everything's good.

I mean, really, why this ridiculous need to revise perfection? It makes no sense. What's next, Bruce Springsteen re-releases "Darkness on the Edge of Town" but cuts the Little Stevie guitar solo on "The Promised Land" and re-dubs his moans on "Something in the Night"? What is Michael Mann going to do in the "Definitive" version? Cut Alice's "invalid schoolgirl" line? Because if he cuts that line, so help me God....

Do you know what the "Definitive" version of "Last of the Mohicans" is? The version that was released theatrically in 1992. Leave it alone. Please. The sanity you save may be mine.


Wretched Genius said...

Here's something I grabbed off of the IMDB boards about this new version.
This is what I noticed:

- The Clannad song is back, but in what I think is Gaelic rather than English

- Chingachgook's speech about the frontier life at the end is gone

- The shot of the axe impaling Magua is back

- Hawkeye's "serious disagreement" line to Heyward is back

- Hawkeye's "breed apart" line and Cora's response is back

Most of Hawkeye's other lines that got cut from the director's cut are still gone, but Mann seems to have restored some of the more controversial changes.

Nick Prigge said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Good stuff. I'm still bummed if the extension to that parlay scene is still there which is just so dead wrong but nonetheless these are good changes. It's nice he (possibly) listened to the fans to some degree.

Now....if I only had a blu-ray player.