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June 1994


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Daniel Pisano <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Jun 1994 15:01:43 MESZ
text/plain (111 lines)
Of course, nothing is good if it is overdone.
And yes, there is a certain (large) amount of junk that is produced in a
creative process. If the tradeoff is good, you take the good parts, assemble
them and you have a good comedy monologue/play/film/poem/book story in
general. Of course. And the rest is, well, junk.
And junk is thrown away. Of course.
Anyway what I am concerned about is when a 'work' cannot be presented to its
audience the way it was meant to be seen/read/heard/felt.
Cuttings that were made because of excessive length, for example.
If you have made a movie that is longer than 'standard 90 minutes' you're
already in danger. The theaters cannot do the amount of shows they want (or
have) to and so - snip here, snip there - 'unimportant' scenes end on the
cutting room floor.
This happened to Luc Besson's 'The Big Blue'. Watch the two versions and
you'll see what I mean. 90 minutes against 140. That's what I call 'asassina-
tion of art'. What Luc Besson wanted us to live through while telling us
a story becomes what the theaters are willing to show us - because, heck,
they don't care.
If a director or scriptwriter wants to make a point by using certain
words in a dialogue or by showing a scene from a certain camera angle
how can one dare to say "uh-oh, we better cut that out so we don't lose
audience or this commercial contract with [your favored corporation here]."
Imagine Michelangelo's David with his 'nasty parts' (how do I hate that term)
Here we have someone who 'cuts' someone else's free expression of thought.
In the worst case, a film is degraded to a simple, toothless, trivial
piece of consumable entertainment - like the features on the back of a cereal
box. What is the point, then? I want to get the whole, the real thing, not its
retouched xerox.
Actually, the whole censorship debate makes me sick.
If there is a group of people (we're talking about a mass-commited (sp?) crime
here) who want others not to read or see 'something', they bite away a part
of your self, actually the most important one: Your free will and your
right to decide for yourself.
This is one of the very few cases where I get aggravated about a subject,
but it is a very basic and important one.
I'll try to keep it down to a rational and argumentative level.
Ok, so one cuts away words like 'fuck' or 'gay'. All right. What's next?
Let's edit out an interracial kiss (duration: 0.7 seconds) in a film about
the relationship between blacks and whites for airplane screening, but
we keep the 'interwhite' kisses (and love scenes) in. [this actually happened
but I cannot recall the film's title or the airline name]
And why are 45 seconds missing in the American version of Basic Instinct?
(guess which 45 seconds I'm talking about)
So what's next then? Political and social criticism perhaps?
There is a school library somewhere in the south (that I can give you
exact data on, next time I get to the states) that actually stocks
Fahrenheit 451 - with some blackened passages (yes!).
Who can dare to decide what is not suitable for an adult audience?
- And who profits (I'm not talking money here) from it?
Why does someone watch, say, 'Apocalypse Now!'? Why would someone
show 'Apocalypse Now! with some scenes cut out so you do not get too distressed
about the meaninglessness of war and can get back to your job in chemical
warfare supply' or go to sleep after having watched Jay Leno, assured that
everything is all right in the world.
Aw, come on. For whom is it the goal to have tamed people to feed the
baby-food version of 'Full Metal Jacket'?
Power? Money? Reassurance to have both by keeping the other ones in
'vegetating mode'?
Now we would not want to offend our audience by showing them that they
are perhaps basing their lifestyle on a lie, or show some not-so-young
members of our society what they were not allowed to do in _their_ youth.
Ohhhh, it would upset them. (This is as polemic as I am going to get)
The fact is that, seen in a broader perspective, even the most minimal
modification of a 'creation' lowers the inhibition bar towards censorship
and, finally, mind control (perhaps a too harsh term, but we'll see).
The Nazis burnt books (and not only books) that were dangerous to them.
American films were not allowed to be shown in former sowjet cinemas
and to-day many authors, newspaper or other literature, 'disappear' in
many parts of the world.
But wait, what happened to Monty Pyhton's 'Life of Brian' and Andy Warhol's
films with Joe D'Alessandro in the United States or, to get to extremes
to 'Deep Throat'?
No it is not the same thing and I am not implying it.
And I do not see the danger of Burmese or Singaporean or North Korean or
Chinese, or Peruvian standards to develop in the US, or anywhere else in
the 'western world'. It is not the US who seek to see Salman Rushdie killed.
I don't think that anyone is going to be liquidated for writing a text that
criticises the way power (or education for that effect) is being 'distributed'
among the US American people.
But nevertheless, this all is a very, very serious matter.
And that is why I worry when I learn about a 'cut' version of a movie.
Would you 'cut' out Mona Lisa's smile because it is forbidden so show
'inner organs' publicly (as it is in Saudi Arabia and Egypt) or Benetton's
photo ad in which you see three kids, one black, one white and one 'yellow'
(of Asian origin) showing their tongues to the viewer?
It was censored there.
That was meant in general, not personally,