Special Report

The 25 Greatest Director’s Cuts of Famous Films

Even cinema’s foremost masterpieces generally represent a compromise between artistic vision and economic demand. In order to please audiences, directors are often asked to change endings or leave swaths of footage on the cutting room floor. It’s then no surprise that many of these directors feel as though the end result isn’t necessarily “finished” in the true sense of the concept.

Enter the director’s cut, which gives viewers a chance to witness the work as it was originally intended. A number of these changes made to movies long after their initial theatrical release involve changed endings or the reinsertion of previously cut footage – though some actually shorten their runtimes to create a tighter viewing experience. In some cases, as with “Aliens,”the director and his team actually complete and then implement previously unfinished visual effects after the film has come out. (See who won the Oscar for Best Director every year since the Oscars began.)

Of course, giving a director full rein over their creation doesn’t automatically translate to a better film. For instance, many would argue that the theatrical version of “Donnie Darko” – which doesn’t over-explain its central mystery – is superior to the director’s cut. Compare it to “Blade Runner: The Final Cut,” a director’s cut that’s widely regarded as the best version of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. It all goes to show that there’s no single recipe or approach for a film’s success. (Have you seen the best classic movie every year since 1950?)

Click here to see the 25 greatest director’s cuts

Meanwhile, determining whether a director’s cut is better than other versions can be a tricky endeavor, as most of them don’t have their own IMDb pages or critics’ scores. For that reason, we didn’t exclusively rely on comparisons or ratings for the following list. Instead, we’ve uncovered 25 director’s cuts that are considered great in their own right and not necessarily “better” than other versions. For the most part, we leave the comparisons up to you.

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