The history of the Director's Cut

The history of the Director's Cut

Lately we hear often about director's cut. If, until some time ago, this name was associated only with products destined for the cinema market, Sony has "cleared customs" the combination of the latter also with the world of video games, creating a bit of confusion and confusion.

Let's try to get to grips with this "new" commercial horizon by retracing the history of director's cuts.

The origin in cinema

Director's Cut: that of Blade Runner is one of the most famous The name alone, director's cut, immediately makes it clear where this market trend may have come from. In English, in fact, "director" stands for director, while with "cut" (literally "cut") we mean the final montage of the cinematographic work, the one intended for theaters or the home entertainment market. Usually when we talk about director's cut, the duration of the work exceeds that of its original montage, but often we also see more contained minutes, due to the elimination of some scene considered superfluous (this is the case of the re-editions of two epochal films, Blade Runner: The Final Cut by Ridley Scott and Apocalypse Now Final Cut by Francis Ford Coppola, or the lesser known Blood Simple by the Coen Brothers).

So, usually, this term refers to the definitive version of a film, the one that the director wanted to bring to the screen from the beginning, but which for some reason could not make right away. br>
Director's Cut: the Final Cut of Apocalypse Now has a longer playing time than the version released in theaters in 1979, but less than the Redux version of 2001 This perspective opened at exactly the ideal moment, that is during the seventies , in an America in which the cinema was undergoing a radical change and many productions were able to counter the clutches of the pressing censorship.

It all started in the last years of the previous decade. Among the counterculture phenomena, the Vietnam War, the space race and the tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, films such as Easy Rider and The Graduate managed to find space in theaters, products decidedly discordant with respect to glossy classic Hollywood productions. A new path was emerging for cinema, which would lead to audiovisual products capable of speaking to a young audience, more inclined to the appreciation of "desecrating" films, which tended to idolize those that until some time before were considered the derelicts of society.

In addition to this renewed interest in cinema (which in those years had been put in crisis by the advent of television), we were heading towards the new consumerist turn of the century, that represented by the 1980s and their materialistic excess, which introduced to the world, among other things, the "comforts" of home video. Consequently, the producers found themselves in their hands an already tested market, brought back to life by a loyal audience, eager to see its heroes return to the screen over and over again, and one in total expansion, still perfectly modelable. and adaptable to market demands.

It is in this chaos of events that the director's cut is born, a real double-edged sword. In fact, if on the one hand it could prove to be an effective means for directors, able to propose their actual vision of the work without the hand of censorship or the producer, very often it was used in an "illicit" way by production companies, who also passed off as director's cut products that, in reality, weren't. There are several of these examples, one of which is the replacement of Il Fiume Rosso, a western directed by Howard Hawks, of which a version discarded by the director himself was exhumed.

Director's Cut: that of Il Fiume Rosso is was made by recovering an old version discarded by the director himself It is clear how, therefore, most of the time the use of this term is linked to a pure commercial issue, which aims to further monetize a work that has been very successful and for which the target audience is willing to invest further money.

The director's cut domino is established on this basis, a product that tempts viewers to an additional expense, able to conquer the living rooms at home first and then, perhaps, to return to the attack also in theaters, preferably only for a couple of days.

The director's cuts in the current cinema scene

Director's Cut: Snyder Cut has shown that the public is in favor of this type of commercial operation Today more than ever this method is on everyone's lips, from the first steps taken by Warner Bros. to "stretch the stock" of its productions in collaboration with DC Comics, to very recent case of Snyder's Cut, financed even by the public, so addicted to the idea of ​​bringing justice and executive freedom that he himself fosters the ever-increasing tendency to limit the artistic vision of directors, with the result of "cut-off" films, tending to episodic, which can find completeness only when the dismembered work is put back into action; modern Frankensteins who work on the digital, where the stitches are invisible and the work can pass for a genuine creation.

The legitimate interest in bringing your work back to the screen as you wanted it seems to have disappeared, but not for a mere commercial intent or to satisfy a host of enthusiasts, but rather for that selfish and individual obsession of the author, the only interpreter of his artistic urgencies, pushed to put his hand back on his creation "because it is necessary". What is taking shape, on the other hand, is the producers' awareness of the effectiveness of this perspective (already savored by some pioneering pioneers), aware of the ever-increasing importance of the figure of the director over that of the actor.

What happens, then, when such a standardized trope meets a medium who tries, at times senselessly, to chase his closest "opponent"? A business opportunity is created.

Director's cuts in video games

Director's Cut: Kojima had already made them before Death Stranding It is true that Sony has given new relevance to the end, but the "director's cut" have been invading the gaming market for years. In the end, almost all those editions that introduce some kind of novelty can be considered as such. Kojima himself, long before Death Stranding, had worked on some sort of director's cut during his work on the Metal Gear Solid saga (among the first, Metal Gear Solid: Integral, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, which contained in a complete edition everything that had been released exclusively for the launch on the various markets, namely the American, European and Asian markets, which took place at different times). One would think that that reference to the Metal Gear Solid series in the Death Stranding Director's Cut announcement trailer originates from the commercial operation carried out by Kojima himself regarding the first episodes of his successful videogame saga.

Obviously , not all re-releases of a title can be considered director's cut. To be able to attribute this label it is necessary at least the addition of an unpublished content, never seen before. Therefore, all the "Complete Editions" and the "Game of the Year Editons" are to be considered excluded from this identification, since they contain what has already been released, without adding any real news. What, however, closely resembles an approximate director's cut are all those remasters or (more radically) remakes of old titles brought to new life thanks to a more or less in-depth reworking of the games in question.

Director's Cut: Resident Evil offers a non-trivial example The previous generational change had introduced us to a massive revival of large (and small) commercial successes, exhumed and embellished for users who, perhaps, had not had the opportunity to try them firsthand . What Sony is doing today with the director's cuts of its titles is reminiscent in all respects of that process of commercial revitalization of its intellectual properties. However, with the convenience of backward compatibility, it does not seem to make much sense to re-propose titles that are not only very recent, but also with a not urgent technical reworking.

What, then, these editions offer, so overwhelming as to justify a further take storm of the market? Maybe not enough, but it is better not to make hasty judgments.

Sony and its director's cut

Director's Cut: new trend or fad? Sony has always had its hands on everything, even in the world of cinema. As a result, he knows the benefits of interlaced, unified and coherent production, which retains the target audience and keeps them connected to the brand. It is no coincidence, therefore, that it has brought to new frontiers the juxtaposition of two media which are in many ways similar, such as those of video games and cinema. The videogame productions of the Japanese house differ in a markedly cinematic cut, with continuous references and even reiterations of techniques born on the big screen, also leading to effective results, achieved with many difficulties by the cinema (to remember the experiment of the most recent God of War, structured in such a way as to appear as a long sequence shot).

The newly founded PlayStation Studios are evidently pushed to create the products of the individual teams on the basis of blockbuster film productions, with the difference of a more marked freedom in the topics covered and in the way in which to stage them again due to the relative "acerbity" of the industry compared to the tried and tested Hollywood film tradition, already revolutionized several times from the foundations over the course of its hundred and more years of life.

Director's Cut: Sony titles look to cinema and other media in virtually every respect Not Sony's decision to name the re-editions of its games "director's cut" on the occasion of their arrival on the current generation of consoles must come as a surprise. At the moment we have two examples: the aforementioned Death Stranding Director's Cut and the more criticized Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut. Both aim to bring, in addition to the nativity of the titles on the new flagship PlayStation, some additional contents that expand the story or, at least, the activities to be carried out.

If we return for a moment to what was said about the director's cut, these usually add elements that the production (more rarely, the director himself) has decided to cut, or eliminate something imposed, such as a "happily ever after" ending or superfluous additions to reach a more heterogeneous audience. In the case of the two PlayStation titles, we find ourselves witnessing, however, the introduction of content perhaps not made in time or destined for a future expansion, but then converted to be part of this new version. More than the original vision of the "director" (who here can be identified with the creative director), we are faced with an extension of those contents already proposed, which do not lead to a radical change in the meaning of the work itself. . It is more of an extended cut, with additional "deleted scenes" that reinforce the gaming experience, but that do not change the course of events.

Even Kojima himself recently said he was against using the deadline for the launch of his Death Stranding on PlayStation 5, following a tradition that has its roots also on a cinematic level, with internationally renowned directors who said they were against the excessive use of a label that has lost, over the years, its meaning in favor of an insatiable market.

Is it right to call them director's cut?

Director's Cut: Ghost of Tsushima is the title that caused the most sensation, in this respect So, it is right to call these new versions director's cut? At first glance no, but, on the other hand, it is certainly not only video games that have abused this terminology. Film production companies were the first to have benefited from it when they realized that it was enough to add a few scenes (usually, discarded by the director himself) to bring the audience back into the room or to justify a further purchase of the title at home. video. Because the viewer, after all, is often teased by the possibility that the version he has viewed is not the best one and, therefore, he sings into it again of his own free will.

The same thing is happening in the videogame field too. , which is certainly not very promising, but it doesn't seem to be the most absolute evil either. Sony, as mentioned, knows the entertainment market and knows how to take advantage of various commercial trends. Naming his videogame products with a terminology so subject to the laws of the market and identified with a strong and renowned authorial source inevitably leads the consumer to associate his productions with something elitist (not at an economic level, of course), behind which he finds himself a precise hierarchical division, through which it is possible to see a prominent figure who can be identified with that of the "director" (even if, more often than not, the individual fame does not exceed the collective one of the development team).

Director's Cut: a Hollywood cast for Death Stranding So, even if we are not faced with real director's cuts, we are witnessing a precise choice by Sony, to establish itself as a manufacturer that makes video games " cinematographic ", where the element of the individual exceeds (at least figuratively, for the moment) that of the group. In short, we want to push on the role of the author, of those who have a very clear overview of what is to be achieved, putting "aside" those who have actually modeled the game. This, linked to the hiring of prominent protagonists from the world of cinema, suggests a total encounter with the big screen, much more than in the past.

The latest PlayStation productions have shown that they know how to capture players , most likely thanks to a direct association with visual languages ​​that have accompanied them for years. It remains to be seen whether PlayStation Studios will not let themselves be too carried away, unbalancing the already precarious hybridization link that unites cinema and video games.

We hope that this examination of the director's cuts in cinema and video games has been d ' help for those who have found themselves lost in the face of recent Sony announcements. As usual, we are waiting for you in the comments to find out what you think.

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