Final Paper Proposal

“Examination of the Final Cut: A director’s narrative prerogative”


The idea of releasing two (or more) editions of a film or other text examines new ideas of narration through post-production practices.  In this essay, I will attempt to examine both why and how a second edition, most commonly in the form of a directors cut, can influence the narrative structure of any given text.  Although multiple texts will be examines, this essay will focus primarily around Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir film BladeRunner and Terry Gilliam’s 1985 science-fiction film Brazil.  Both of these texts have had multiple versions released following the initial theatrical edition of each.  Although I will primarily examine these two films, I will look at additional works by these two directors, especially Scott, who has released many director’s cuts for his films. 

–Topics to be discussed in depth within this essay include but are not limited to:

-Classical Hollywood vs. Art cinema.  I think this idea will be central not only on it’s own but to the overarching idea of the essay and thesis.  The decisions and conflicts that have created the need for multiple edits of these films have arisen primarily because of studio/director conflicts which are commonly representative of the industry vs. artist. 

-The narrative ideas of Fabula/Syuzhet and how post-production changes typically affect both.  Although editing’s primary goal is to advance the story or a film, it can undoubtedly be used as a stylistic element as well.  I would like to include some of Walter Murch’s ideas/theories in respect to this idea.

-The rise of home video and the inception of the term ‘directors cut’.  With the success of home video distribution, multiple releases of films became not only available but economically advantageous as well.  Despite some critical acclaim, clearly not all director’s cuts or extended editions add a great deal to a film’s narrative or artistic success.  It is because of this that I am examining the cases of Blade Runner and Brazil as they are distinct, documented case in which studio executives tampered with the work of the director.

-New media and the place for director’s cuts, extended or ‘complete’ editions of music videos, video games and other types of narrative media.  Whether these additions to the texts, specifically to video games, add more to the narrative or simply play to a different audience (culturally or demographically) examples from Metal Gear Solid, Rogue Galaxy and Final Fantasy VII can add to this discussion.



-The thesis statement I believe will work well for this essay is such:  A director’s or final cut affords a director the ability to not only assemble a film to his/her narrative and stylistic standards but more importantly provides an opportunity to use auteuristic ideals to confront artistic opposition from executive powers with alternative motives.


This thesis is not at all final and I expect to change it as I begin to examine the multiple versions of these texts (I have only seen one version of each film) as well as finding out the specifics of the studio conflicts involved in both.  



Active/Possible Sources

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Warner Bros, 1982.  (Theatrical Release)

(I will also use the Director’s Cut (1992), The Final Cut (2007) and the Original Workprint Version (1982 (released in 2007))

Brazil. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Universal, 1985. (Theatrical Release)

(I will also use the European Cut (1996), and the Sid Sheinberg ‘Love Conquers All’ Edit (1985 (realeased in 1996))


Brooker, Will. The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science Fiction Classic. London, UK: Wallflower Press, 2005.


Gilliam, Terry, Charles E. Alverson, and Bob McCabe. Brazil: The Evolution of the 54th Best British Film Ever Made. London, UK: Orion Media, 2001.


Kerman, Judith. Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Publishing, 1991.


Knapp, Laurence, and Andrea Kulas. Ridley Scott: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers). Kansas City, MO: Performance Arts Publishing, 2005.


Ondaatje, Michael. The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. New York City: Random House Inc., 2002.

Sammon, Paul M.. Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner. New York City: HarperCollins, 1996.


Sammon, Paul M. Ridley Scott:The Making of his Movies (Close Up Edition). New York City: Da Capo Press, 1999.


Shay, Don. Blade Runner: The Inside Story (Transmetropolitan). London, UK: Titan Books, 2000.




I may need help acquiring the Criterion Collectors edition of each of these films.  Not sure the best way to go about doing that.  Ideas?

1 thought on “The Final Cut: PAPER PROPOSAL

  1. Jason Mittell

    This is a strong proposal with clear ideas and scope. I’d think more about the rhetoric surrounding director’s cuts, and how certain versions are privileged over others through critical discourse, celebrations of authorship, etc. You should also look at the book The Battle of Brazil by Jack Matthews, and there’s good supplementals on the DVD about the debates. We have the Criterion of Brazil and the special Bluray of Blade Runner in the library, so you should be set. Good luck!

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