Awhile back my wife (in an apparent bid to become my ex-wife) loaned one of my DVD’s out without asking me. The movie was Troy, one I like and watch fairly often. After a few months of it not finding its way home I just bought a new copy. But this copy was the director’s cut.
According to the box there was 30 minutes of added footage. The footage was not, however, huge swaths of deleted scenes. There were actually very few scenes that weren’t in the theatrical release. Instead there were alternate/extended versions of scenes we already had. Sometimes just a line or two added. The mechanical change was small but the overall effect was signifigant. The tense, almost frenzied pace of the original was more measured.
So which is better? It’s a surprisingly hard question and very subjective. Most of the added stuff is character intro and character motivation. It definitely fleshes out the characters, especially Hector and Agamemnon. Odysseus and Ajax get proper intros instead of just getting plopped in there. Those are good things but there’s no question that the longer pace changes the feel. Instead of the headlong pace of a straight action movie it plays more as a meditation on what drives men to war.
Personally, I like a longer movie myself but then, I like longer novels as well. I tend to favor director’s cuts with one exception–comedies. I saw “The 40 Year Old Virgin” in the theater and it was great. I have the unrated/extended version on DVD and it’s not as good. It’s not that the extra stuff isn’t funny, it’s hilarious, but comedy is so much about timing. There seems to be an ideal length for a funny movie and you know instinctively when they should just get on with it.
So it would seem that pace (and therefore the lengt of the actual written work) are actually tied in with your genre. What effect are you going for?