When is a Film Complete?

It was recently revealed that the new Avengers film will be released as an extended edition on DVD, presumably with the original cut listed at a running time of about 3 hours. This brings into question the idea of a film ever really being complete and the idea of director’s cuts/extended editions in general. There are famous examples of these, such as the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, Blade Runner: Final Cut, Apocalypse Now Redux, among many others. When is a film truly a complete film? Can the director edit a film as many times as he/she wishes and consider it to still be the same piece of work? Take, for example, the Star Wars special editions. Many fans consider the special editions to not even be “Star Wars,” as many scenes are completely changed or altered. It’s a complex question and one that most likely doesn’t have an answer – more of an opinion.

One thought on “When is a Film Complete?”

  1. I found this argument to be similar to what many directors think about as the percentage of their vision that is conveyed in the film. For instance how Spielberg(?) said that a director should only expect 80% of their vision to come across in the film. In the same light, it would seem that, once complete, the film could be edited and special features could be added and the film may still not feel completed by the visionary.

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