Even as I had a rough cut of the film back in the year 2000, I was sweating bullets because I realized, Oh my God, Im never going to be able to really tell this story in under two hours. It became a really nightmarish process for me to whittle the film down into some semblance of cohesive order. I was really proud of the work we did to do that. I think that there are certain things that are better about the film because they are enigmatic or open-ended. And by no means do I feel that this is the kind of film that should ever be an open and shut, close the book and tie the red ribbon and its a happy ending conclusion. This will never be that kind of film, even in the Directors Cut. I felt like there were always some plot holes and some moments that might have appeared like, Oh, hes just trying to confuse us. Or, Hes just trying to be weird. Where it was like, No, there was really a point to all this and a logic behind it. I couldnt make everything clear in under two hours.
Its not about turning everything into the looking glass. Its still an organic kind of experience but its one that will hopefully make a little bit more sense. Its like maybe the Directors Cut is the annotated Cliff Notes version of the film and the theatrical cut is the esoteric version. Some people may prefer things to remain completely esoteric and others may prefer for things to have a bit more of a guide through their story. Its not about dumbing anything down. Its about taking people on a more logical science fiction rollercoaster ride.
I think it was important for me, if Im going to go and do a Directors Cut, that it be something a bit more developed and a bit more defined. If Im going to add length to the film, that it isnt just to baffle audiences even more (laughing). Maybe they will be completely baffled, but I believe there is more of a conclusion that can be drawn from the Directors Cut. I also believe that there is a whole new layer of mystery added to it that people will respond to. I think it just comes more out of my love for science fiction, more than anything.
Does having that three year window between cuts change the way you see things, and did it influence the Directors Cut? Or is this the exactly the same vision for the movie you had while you were shooting it?
You know, Id be lying if I didnt say that the three years have allowed me to calm down and see the world with more mature eyes, and to look at the world in a way where Ive had three years to digest the story and really decide what it means to me and ultimately what my interpretation of the story is.
Any Directors Cut is a fundamentally selfish and narcissistic enterprise (laughing). Its a self-indulgent endeavor more than anything. I mean, lets call a spade a spade here. Sometimes its a good thing for a filmmaker to have restrictions put upon him because it forces a filmmaker to be very economical and to only include what is absolutely necessary. But I think, given the interest in this film and the ongoing debate about the mysteries of the film and a lot of people who seem to be searching for answers, the fact that Newmarket gave me this opportunity I felt this is my chance to help provide a few more answers along with some new questions for people.
I was very careful and I thought for a long time about what I really wanted to include in the Directors Cut. It was with much deliberation and debate for me. Every decision was made with great care and great concern. To me, there was nothing superfluous or unnecessary that I added. To me, every single new frame, every new piece of sound design and music and visual effects, has a very specific purpose and idea behind it and is very important to the whole puzzle. People might not get it, they might not understand what Im trying to do with the Directors Cut after one viewing, but I think that hopefully, after repeated viewings, the Directors Cut will open up new doors of interpretation. (Laughing) Either that or theyll just say, F**k you. We like the theatrical cut better. But thats fine, too. I think there can be two versions that exist simultaneously.
That 'repeated viewing' comment brings up something. Why isnt this just going straight to DVD as a Directors Cut?
Given all the midnight screenings in theaters that have occurred over the past two years in many different cities, there seems to be a real desire for audiences to see this on the big screen. A lot of people missed out on seeing it on the big screen and never got that opportunity, and I think Newmarket realizes that.
From a purely financial standpoint, for Newmarket this is a win-win situation. Even if it only does very moderate business in theaters, it provides them with a new ancillary DVD revenue stream. Just to clarify, Im not going to see any of that money so this isnt about money for me at all.