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Top 10 Director's Cut Special Editions of Movies

VO: Dan Paradis
Script Written by Christopher Ulaski. Sometimes a little change goes a long way. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 director's cuts and special editions of movies. For this list, we’re looking at films with alternate cuts that added something new or even improved upon the original. If you didn’t like any of the original movies on this list, the director’s cuts may change your mind. Special thanks to our users darius ambrose, RealWilliamGonzalez, Griffin Edwards and Heather Montford for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Director's Cut Special Editions of Movies


Sometimes a little change goes a long way. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 director’s cuts and special editions of movies.

For this list, we’re looking at films with alternate cuts that added something new or even improved upon the original.

#10: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” (2006)
Richard Donner

In the midst of a controversial production, director Richard Donner was replaced by Richard Lester after the majority of the “Superman” sequel had already been shot. In order to get full credit, Lester had to shoot up to fifty-one percent of the film, including scenes already shot by Donner. The movie went on to receive positive reviews, but when Donner was given the opportunity to make his own edit, fans rejoiced at the opportunity to see a cut that follows the original script more closely. Released on home video, the result of the re-edited director’scut is something, well, super!

#9: “Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version” (2004)
Wolfgang Petersen

Wolfgang Petersen’s adaptation of “Das Boot,” based off the World War 2 novel of the same name, is one of the most expensive and critically acclaimed films ever produced in Germany. This movie has been shown as a television miniseries and has several different cuts with a wide range of running times. However, the original uncut version and its whopping 293-minute run time, which is actually the German miniseries version released as one movie on DVD in the U.S., is the preferred cut of choice for cinephiles - thanks to much improved sound and visuals. A tremendous achievement, Petersen’s film gives us rare insight into the lives of soldiers fighting for the other side.

#8: “The Big Red One: The Reconstruction” (2004)
Samuel Fuller

Though writer and director Samuel Fuller’s original war epic was given the scalpel back when it originally released back in 1980, it was still greeted with positive reviews. Unfortunately, Fuller passed away before he could release his true vision of the film to the world. However, filmmakers Richard Schickel and Brian Jamieson were able to work with the original script and created a cut that restored many scenes that were sadly previously omitted. Debuting at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, the movie received even higher praise and is considered one of the greatest films of all-time.

#7: “Touch of Evil” Restored Version (1998)
Orson Welles

Orson Welles never got a chance to make his definitive cut of “Touch of Evil.” When it was originally released in 1958, it included scenes reshot with a different director and Welles found out that Universal had ignored nearly all the notes he had given them to improve the film. They even put credits and music over his masterful opening shot! Fortunately, several dedicated filmmakers took his notes and all the available material 30 years later to create a movie that is as close to Welles’ original vision as humanly possible.

#6: “The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Pictures Trilogy - Extended Edition” (2004-)
Peter Jackson

If putting off that bathroom break was hard when you watched the original films, you will definitely have to train a little harder when you pop in these bad boys. While there have been several special, limited and extended editions released of these films since their original theatrical appearances, with the 2011 Blu-rays, the combined runtime of all three movies totals just over twelve hours - credits included. That’s three hours longer when compared to the original releases! However, for hardcore fans, this is just exactly what they want. When Middle-earth looks this beautiful, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t want to spend as much time there as possible.

#5: “Apocalypse Now Redux” (2001)
Francis Ford Coppola

This Francis Ford Coppola classic was given a substantial new edit over 2 decades later with the addition of forty-nine minutes that had been taken out of the original film. Though viewers may find that some of the additional footage slows the war flick down a bit, particularly the French plantation sequence, there’s no denying it’s a great cut and an important part of cinema history. Additional music was also composed for the film along with an updated color balance for the both the new and original footage. This epic movie was truly given an equally epic update.

#4: “Aliens Special Edition” [aka “Director’s Cut”] (1992)
James Cameron

It’s no surprise that one of the greatest sequels of all-time has one of the best director’s cuts of all-time. No stranger to awesome director’s cuts – see the special edition of “Terminator 2” – James Cameron has stated that this is his preferred version of “Aliens.” The seventeen additional minutes give more emotional weight to already great characters and ramps up the nail-biting tension. Who can forget that awesome sentry gun sequence? We certainly can’t.

#3: “Once Upon a Time in America” Restored Version (2012)
Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone’s “One Upon a Time in America” is another victim of studio tampering. Despite a 15 minute standing ovation at its 1984 Cannes premiere, its American release was cut in fear of it being too long and overly violent for film audiences. Originally intended to be 269 minutes long, a restored version of 251 minutes debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Though the remaining minutes were cut out before its premiere due to rights issues, director Martin Scorsese has offered his aid in getting Leone’s children the film rights so they might eventually bring the original film back to its original length. This classic crime drama is a cinematic masterpiece and this cut should be the only way the film is presented to audiences.

#2: “Kingdom of Heaven” Extended Director’s Cut (2005)
Ridley Scott

When Ridley Scott’s historical Crusade drama “Kingdom of Heaven” was originally released, it was met with mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. Disappointed with the reaction to the film, Scott made acut of his own that added a substantial amount of footage as well as a roadshow presentation to the film, all of which he wanted to release the first time around. This expansion fleshed out the characters more and made it a far better film, and critics agreed; this made the extended edition one of the most significant director’s cuts ever assembled.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are few honorable mentions:
- “Payback: Straight Up: The Director’s Cut” (2006)
Brian Helgeland
- “Alien 3: Assembly Cut” (2003)
David Fincher [Without director’s involvement]
- “Almost Famous: Director’s Edition: The Bootleg Cut” (2001)
Cameron Crowe
- “The Wild Bunch: The Original Director’s Cut” (1995)
Sam Peckinpah

#1: “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” (2007)
Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott once again finds himself on this list. His neo-noir science fiction flick “Blade Runner” didn’t fare so well upon its original release, but has since come to be recognized as a cinematic masterpiece. Of the four different versions available, “The Final Cut” is seen by many as the best. His previous “Director’s Cut” from 1992 made many crucial changes that significantly improved the film, but this edition takes “Blade Runner” to the next level, including not only more violence but also the unicorn dream in its entirety, making it the truly definitive viewing experience for fans of this classic.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite director’s cut or extended edition of a movie? For more alternative top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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