Read this interesting snippet over at RopeofSilicon:
…there is a rumor floating around that Malick is working on a six-hour version of the film. The talk began with the following quote from an interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezski from Cahiers du Cinema (via The Film Stage):
For those that have seen the film, you already know Sean Penn’s part was cut dramatically so it’s safe to assume there would be a lot more Penn in a longer cut. The question is, just where would this cut be exhibited? My only guess would be as part of a massive Criterion release and seeing how they have already issued Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line on Blu, why not a six hour cut of Tree of Life?
Sounds intriguing, and I know a lot of people here would welcome a longer version of the film with open arms. Haven’t even seen the regular cut myself yet, but should be seeing it in the next week or so. I hope it lives up to some of the wild praise I’ve heard here recently. Maybe this could be Malick’s Godtango – a companion piece to Tarr’s Satantango :)
I don’t think we will ever get to see it.
I would watch it, without expecting it to be better than the original.
I’m not sure adding a bunch of narrative material back to the film would help it, aside from maybe making it more accessible to people who favor more linear narrative films (but how many of those people are going to sit through a six-hour film?).
The 138 mins version indeed gave the impression that a lot is missing, especially the Penn part you mentioned was as short and fragmented that the film would have probably done better without it. Overall the cinematography impressed me much more than Malick’s storytelling, I also disliked the ending, but maybe a six hour version would balance these deficits out. I’d definitely want to see that one if it becomes available one day.
I heard that it originally started with a 2 hour focus on Penn, and that really made realize why I felt like the version I saw in the theater was simply a draft of many possible versions of the story. I think he could probably be re-editing this forever…which makes me a little suspicious of the content’s ability to ever cohere.
Is this becoming a trend? Didn’t Kluge cut like a 90-minute “trailer” of his 9 1/2 hour “adaptation” of Das Kapital that I really, really, really super want to see (the full-length version)…
News from Ideological Antiquity. I hope both get a DVD release (on criterion while I’m dreaming that impossible dream) in a full cut.
Didn’t this EXACT rumor go around regarding The Thin Red Line a couple years ago? I recall there being rumors that there was so much unused footage that he was going to make another cut that was totally different. Just because there are five thousand hours of material on the cutting room doesn’t mean another version exists (or even if another version did exist, that it would ever get released). I think this is all just wishful thinking by Malickphiles.
“Didn’t this EXACT rumor go around regarding The Thin Red Line a couple years ago?”
Pretty much, yes. Not sure how seriously a fourth-hand report (via RopeofSilicon via The Film Stage via Cahiers du Cinema) can be taken.
Chivo may be right that Terry is working on an extended cut but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Speaking as to the “trend” of epically elongated movies with multiple cuts from theatrical no-need-to-piss length to DVD novels, yes, I see this as a growing trend. Speaking as to Tree of Life , considering how fast the theatrical cut flew by, I wouldn’t mind seeing it elongated, especially yes, with more information as to what Sean Penn was doing wandering around. Speaking as to cohesiveness, I do not believe Tree of Life has much room to fail there since it felt like each individual shot was a micronarrative, in a way that could be cut or presented either way… For instance, even when shots followed each other in standard sequence, they still were not particularly invested in continuity, so that they would seem like individual memories of the same event, reorganizing and changing each other in the same way a memory jumps around and rewrites itself.
Which means that I’m not sure that there could be any standard or accepted final take, but that that’s not necessarily a problem with the movie. If the rumor is true, I’d hope Malick decides to stick to something simple like a theatrical release vs an “uncut director’s release” or something similar to that. Things like Joyce re-publishing updates to Ulysses are fun for history once a final, last version has been released, but it’s not so fun to live with. And now that we’re all so fond of post-mortem publishing, stuff like this could go on forever.
Same here. I expect what will happen is Malick will tinker with it after he finishes post on “Untitled Love Story” (or whatever they’re calling #6 now) until he gets interested in something else and then . . .
I believe there was originally a 5-7 hour cut of Thin Red Line as well as The New World, but those never saw the light of day.
I would watch all of them.
Santino said, Didn’t this EXACT rumor go around regarding The Thin Red Line a couple years ago? I recall there being rumors that there was so much unused footage that he was going to make another cut
I remember getting sucked into this and feeling hopeful. That’s not going to happen to me this time. I’ll believe the existence of a six hour cut when I see it. (And I would definitely want to see it if it comes out.)
So now we have a new addition to the old quote:
“Never believe in promises made about politics, religion, money, and six hour long Malick movies until you see them.”
“even when shots followed each other in standard sequence, they still were not particularly invested in continuity, so that they would seem like individual memories of the same event, reorganizing and changing each other in the same way a memory jumps around and rewrites itself.”
I have no doubt that the footage exists, but I think it’s about as likely to surface as “Lanton Mills” or “The Day the Clown Cried.”
Not to say that I wouldn’t mind it surfacing.
The difference between this information & The Thin Red Line myth is as such:
The myth goes that Malick prepared a multi-hour cut of Thin Red Line with Adrien Brody’s storyline taking front & center initially & THEN cut it down prior to its release.
The information about Tree of Life differs because it has already been released & now it has been reported by its producers that Malick is STILL tinkering with it, post-release, so as to create a more thorough version.
Knowing the unpredicatable nature of Malick the man/myth, we have no guarantee whatsoever that we will ever see the six-hour Tree of Life, as he could finish it & still be dissatisfied & not release it. The only inkling of evidence we have that motions toward its possible release is The New World extended cut & the possibility of this decision starting a new pattern.
The New World exists on DVD in both its theatrical cut & a later-surfaced extended cut.
This minimally increases the probability that Malick may continue to rework each ‘completed’ film into both a ‘standard-issue’/‘theater-safe’ cut & a subsequent ‘directors cut’. But it is no guarantee. Though the information provided by Tree of Life’s cinematographer in the above link does give it a sporting chance.
In addition to all this, knowing the elliptical & impressionistic nature of Tree of Life, as well as its shooting methods, it is highly improbable that even a six-hour cut would elucidate any of the mystery even at 3 times its original release length.
The Thin Red Line extended cut may never been seen (if it is, perhaps after Malick’s lifetime)
The Tree of Life extended cut has a moderate probability of being seen considering its sources, the way in which New World was released, & when Malick’s impulsiveness & perfectionism are taken into account.
Knowing what we know, there’s no reason why it’d be more of a linear narrative,
& in fact would more than likely be six-hours of the same impressionistic method.
These are the Facts.
“The myth goes that Malick prepared a multi-hour cut of Thin Red Line with Adrien Brody’s storyline taking front & center initially & THEN cut it down prior to its release.”
This is the best account of the editing of TRL that I’ve seen.
“Because of Malick’s unique working style, the editors were faced with an unusual set of challenges. Much of the film was unscripted. At times three units were shooting at different locations around Australia and, though he was concerned about what was being captured, the director did not screen the dailies. Leslie started the picture without Billy, who came on after principle photography wrapped. She met Malick only once prior to the shoot, briefly in L.A., and though she was on location for five months, Leslie rarely saw him during production. “Terry and I rarely talked about the film,” she commented. “He left me to my own devices. Eventually I came back with a five-hour first cut.”
“Even that five-hour version was very powerful, and you could see it was a very moving story back then,” Billy added.
The editing team spent 13 months in post, and the mix lasted four months. There were no previews, but there were several in-house screenings; the largest of which, attended by 15 people, was for marketing executives. Malick had final cut. Although the editors said he had specific ideas he wanted to try, the director was also willing to explore and experiment with the material. His creative process demanded time and patience, and though occasionally frustrating, was often rewarding as well.
In working with the footage, the editors found the blend of seasoned and less-experienced actors to be a particular challenge. The many cameos were another difficult element, as were the film’s voice-overs, which were not initially in the script. Making room for them was tricky, and most were recorded directly into the Avid. Some of that scratch track remained in the final film, according to Billy. “Terry is not really fond of dialogue, and shoots takes with and without it,” he said. Leslie added, “Terry lost dialogue wherever possible. The final film varied greatly from the original concept.”"
From the little I’ve read about the process of making ToL thus far, the process seems to have been similar—shoot lots and lots of footage without an exact arrangement in mind, and later see what you have when you go to cut it together, with both apparently ending up largely eschewing dialogue and conventional narrative.
His process sounds similar to Frederick Wiseman’s (yes, the documentary filmmaker). Which is probably why his imagery has a similar energetic, but distant feeling.
I’d rather watch THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, with commentary from Jerry Lewis, yet, than sit through a six hour cut of TREE OF LIFE.
Fact Robot, don’t overlook the first-week-limited-theatrical release cut of NEW WORLD.
If the six-hour cut matched the quality of the film I saw in the theater, then definitely. But I don’t think extra length could improve upon the original.
FWIW, Matt, the process described above reminds me of Miles Davis and Teo Macero on albums like Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson and maybe a few others.
Fact Robot, The New World exists on DVD in both its theatrical cut & a later-surfaced extended cut.
As Ben mentioned, there was a limited first week version, but I recall that Malick made some cuts after and the final release was the version he approved of. As far as I know, he didn’t make any modifications after for the dvd.
I’ll happily watch a six-hour cut. When I finished the film the first time I remember feeling I could turn around and watch it again right then and there.
I heard there is a 3 hour cut of Everyone Says I Love You that includes Tracey Ullman as a girlfriend of Woody and Liv Tyler as Ed Norton’s rebound girl when Drew leaves him, anyone want to see that?
I wouldn’t want to watch a six hour cut of anything. At some point, it’s time to get off the couch.
I certainly wouldn’t watch it in one sitting.
20 minute intermission between hours 3 and 4 :)