"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

there ought to be a law

There ought to be a law that allows directors and writers to chop off the hands of greedy studio execs who chop up and repackage their work for resale without any thought for what they are doing to the creation. I'm not talking about studios giving directors carte blanche to pull a Francis Ford Coppola or worse, a Michael Cimino and nearly bankrupting them, I'm not talking about Howard Roark fantasies of blowing up buildings. I'm talking about the rat bastards that take a movie or television series that has been completed, signed off on, even released and then FUBAR the thing for rerelease to television or a foreign market or DVD.
For months I've heard people rave about "Tin Man", this supposedly great, edgy sci-fi re imagining of Frank Baum's Oz books starring the delectable Zooey Deschanel as a grown-up descendant of the original Dorothy Gale who gets thrown into the "Outer Zone" (O.Z. geddit?). I hoped it would eventually find it way onto cable TV here in Japan, as these things often do, or be released over here on DVD. Sure enough, I spotted it on the new release rack at my local video store under the title Outer Zone (Foreign films are often retitled in Japan). Hurrah!
Then I sat down and watched it - it was okay, but the story barely made sense, supporting characters seemed to come into the story from nowhere and background information about vital plot points often seemed to missing and the whole things seemed disjointed. So I broke down and looked it up on the Net and learned that the geniuses who packaged it for sale as a DVD in Japan HAD TAKEN A SIX HOUR MINISERIES AND CUT IT DOWN TO TWO HOURS. They even ran the end credits at what looked like triple speed to fit it all into exactly two hours.
I'm not a fanatical purist, honest. I could see them tightening up the edits with shorter establishing shots, getting rid of the inevitable "when we last left our heroes" recaps for people who missed the first episode, maybe even chopping one or two non-essential scenes the way Coppola did with the final cut of Apocalypse Now (though I prefer the restored version) Maybe getting it down to five hours, but cutting two thirds of any kind of story is almost bound to fundamentally change the story and probably not for the better.
If Hell existed, there would be a special circle of it for the people who do this. Hanging is too good for them, they should be stuffed in a sack full of starving weasels or forced to sit and watch Clockwork Orange-style the collected works of Vincent Gallo, David Lynch and Ed Wood with all scenes intercut in random order. They should be forced to listen to nothing but Michael Jackson for the rest of their live 24/7, backwards. A pox on them.


Redwood said...

Heh - now you know how American anime fans feel about what happened to certain series (Sailor Moon is famous for being horribly butchered).

Unknown said...

Remember the bizarre anime "battle of the planets" and how it never made any sense. Thats because the shows were trimmed by half for North America. They left in all the action scenes and took out all the plot points and character development.

mjs said...

Talk about your editing! Back in the U.S.A. there are fundies who have removed 14 billion years worth of footage from the Universe Project, leaving only 6,000 years in the production. In order to make the story work, they ended up having Jesus play polo on the back of a velociraptor! It went straight to DVD, but still...


Unknown said...

just exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about MJS!