At Cannes this past spring, Volker SchlÃ¶ndorff presented an extended, directors cut of his 1979 adaptation of Gunter Grass’ novel: The Tin Drum. The new cut of the film contains 30 minutes of previously unseen footage (unseen to the masses, apparently SchlÃ¶ndorff showed this cut to Grass before releasing it). New Yorkers were able to see this new digital print of the film with SchlÃ¶ndorff in attendance on November 5th.
While he was in New York to present the film, Volker SchlÃ¶ndorff stopped over at the Criterion Collection offices in New York, and spoke about the new version of the film. They talk a bit about re-recording lost audio for the new scenes, and whether or not this is THE version of the Tin Drum that the director had initially intended to present to the world.
It’s an interesting discussion on the nature of “extended” and “directors” cuts of films. Living in a post George Lucas world where basically any director can go back and meddle with their art has left me feeling a little ambivalent about this whole business. I’ve seen and heard both sides of the argument from dozens of fans and artists, and I can’t say which side I fall on. Of course I would like the initial version of the film, the version that won the awards, that people reviewed, that has grown to be an important film in popular culture, to live on. On the other hand, I think it is absolutely fine if an artist wants to continue working on a piece of art that they created. Film is certainly interesting in that once it has been released to the public, there is a sense of ownership on the part of the viewer that is very unique.
I think it’s safe to assume that given this new digital print of the film is making the rounds, and SchlÃ¶ndorff is obviously still in good standing with Criterion, that we should expect a Blu-ray of the film sometime in 2011. Heck, I’d even wager that the fine folks working on the Butt-Numb-A-Thon 12 scheduling are trying to get this new cut of the film in their hot little hands.
Below is an embed from Criterion’s Facebook page, with SchlÃ¶ndorff. What do you think of director’s cuts? Should artists be allowed to go back and change their work, or should things be set in stone once they release it?
If you’ve seen the film, be sure to check out our podcast episode discussing the Tin Drum, from last December.