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February 22, 2007


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Abe Goldfarb

Jes' for the record, there was an alternate cut of Gangs seen by several journalists via bootleg. It was some 20 minutes longer, with less editing trickery around the violence, more of the ancilliary characters, no DiCaprio narration, tougher emotional beats, its original score by Elmer Bernstein intact (and much more traditional music used incidentally), and the draft riot scene less spoon-fed in terms of place and incident. Surely, no amount of fixing can make DiCaprio better in it, or the structure less unwieldy, but as I understand it, that version at least approaches the operatic vision Scorsese had in mind. Not the muffled, strangulated, fragmented piece that showed up in theaters. I kept wanting it to be great, and it kept fucking up.

Even then, though, it wasn't the definitive version. The definitive version was born and killed in Scorsese's head. The original version starred DeNiro and Keitel and featured The Clash as a street gang. The original version wasn't worked on by three screenwriters assigned by the Weinsteins to slap the thing into conventional shape. The original probably wasn't conceived as an Oscar contender. What I wouldn't give to see the DEFINITIVE Gangs of New York. But the very notion has become so nebulous, not only in this media age but in this intellectual age. Perhaps that's the point. It's a little scary.

We're about to see the release of a Blade Runner set with THREE cuts of the film. Oliver Stone's Alexander will receive its third edit (after the director's cut clocked in SHORTER than the theatrical). George Lucas is working on the "archive" versions of Star Wars, with even more digital jiggery-pokery. Who can say what definitive means anymore?

Abe Goldfarb

Rambles, rambles...I think what I was getting at was this: the irony that the very authorial control that supposedly empowers the artist in this age of re-releases, director's cuts and re-sequencing has led to Isaac's astutely diagnosed culture of creative completion via audience member.

Lee, the Brother

i guess for me, some of the things about having a fan-selected definative version of a play/book/whatever is the reluctance to accept it when an author destroys their own work.
like john guare put in six degrees of seperation, you just have to know when to take the piece away from the kid.
(also, your mention of the various contemporaneous marvel universes made me think of a problem i had when watching torchwood, that at least one of the episode authors underestimated how much geeks value it all making sense.
in science fiction and fantasy, fans put a high premium on internal consistancy, on having the magic/time travel/gadgets all be part of the same system.
i'm not sure why this is suspended sometimes for comics, but fandom will fill in the gaps to create a coherent system, sometimes better than the original author can or is willing to do, and get frustrated when something doesn't fit.)

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