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Cut What you Love

Stoker Trimmed

Despite being a fantastic film-maker, for his English debut film Stoker, South Korean director Park Chan-wook was reportedly made to cut a significant chunk out. This left the running time at a standard 98 minutes.

Whilst some might baulk at this interference with an auteur’s vision, there is no denying there is a need for this sort of thing. His last film Thirst, ran to 133 minutes and could certainly have done with being trimmed.

Other high profile and successful filmmakers could certainly do with better editing as well. All of Tarantino’s films for the past 10 years could have been improved if someone had the testicular fortitude to tell him “no” once in a while.

The point is I think films are often too long.

I’m not referring to the three hour plus epics, though they are included, I’m talking about pretty much every film ever.

I’d been thinking this for a while but the idea did not completely form until watching The Deer Hunter, which is equal parts brilliant and waffly filler. There is no way the pre-war segment needs to take up an entire third of a three hour films. At least half of it could have been cut with no detriment to the film.

This reminded me that pretty much every horror film I’ve seen in the past few months has a good 30 minutes of exposition which is essentially pointless. It doesn’t really do anything and is generally of little value for either story of enjoyment. It could easily be cut down to say (maybe) 10 minutes and the film would be vastly improved.

True, this would mean a lot of movies coming in at closer the 70-80 minute mark, but so what? Steamboat Bill Jnr was only 70 minutes and that’s considered a classic. 30 Minutes or Less is only 83 minutes and it is great. Why? Because there is no filler. It gets in, dos the job and gets out.

I think this rules applies to the vast majority of films ever made. The desire (or the need) to turn in a film between 90 and 100 minutes long seems to encourage film-makers to leave stuff in that shouldn’t really be in there.

I’m not suggesting all the stuff that doesn’t work should be cut out of a movie, because inevitably there will be times when a key element doesn’t work and for one reason or another it is not possible to either reshoot so it needs to stay in for the story to make sense. Unfortunately, far too often that seems not to be the case.

I think it’s time we relaxed about films being overly short and directors and editors were a bit more liberal with the (virtual) scissors.

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