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King Of Cuts: Harvey Weinstein Vs. Cinema

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King Of Cuts: Harvey Weinstein Vs. Cinema film still

With Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer set for cuts ahead of its US release, we list the films that have fallen pray to the studio executive's scissors.

Piercing comments fell like snow at the news that Harvey Weinstein has ordered the great South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (the man behind The Host and Mother) to cut 20 minutes from his forthcoming futuristic action drama, Snowpiercer, so that it might play a little better in the boonies. Since forming Miramax with brother Bob in 1979, Weinstein has established a reputation for being a little snip-happy in his notoriously hands-on approach to film distribution, earning nicknames like ‘Harvey Scissorhands’ and ‘Darth Weinstein’.

With the latest news suggesting Harv is in no danger of changing his methods, here we look back at 10 choice cuts he has sanctioned over the years. Do you think he was right to cut these movies? Should a director always have final say over which version of their work is released?

1. The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball (1982)

Director: Roger Graef, Julien Temple

The cuts: Two directors spliced

According to this piece that ran on the CNN website in the year 2000, for the charity benefit doc that put Miramax on the film distribution map, the Weinsteins chose to cut and cobble together the work of two different directors.

2. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

The cuts: 51 minutes

Tornatore’s classic tale of growing up and falling in love in rural Italy has a local cinema at its heart. The cinema’s projectionist cuts sex scenes to appease the community's religious clientele. Harvey Weinstein trumped that by excising 51 minutes from the original 173 minute cut of the movie.

3. Little Buddha (1993)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

The cuts: 15 minutes

This duel narrative saga about Buddhism past and present starred a pre-Speed Keanu Reeves and ran at a not-too-whopping 140 mins. Which, for a director like Bertolucci who counts 1900 (317 mins) and The Last Emperor (160 mins) among his directorial oeuvre, really isn't much of a push. Yet, Weinstein’s verdict was that the film contained too much religious imagery. So he lopped off 15 minutes.

4. Studio 54 (1998)

Director: Mark Christopher

The cuts: 45 minutes

Debauched goings on at New York’s infamous '70s nightspot (with Mike Myers as our chiffon-clad host) were dramatised by director Mark Christopher and then duly butchered. According to this piece which ran in The Backlot, 45 minutes were cut, 25 minutes were reshot and a voiceover was added just in case anyone, anywhere might be too challenged by the story of a disco club.

5. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Director: Stephen Chow

The cuts: 20 minutes

Weinstein has gained something of a particular reputation for cutting Asian films to make them work for the American market. This started around the time of the release of this Hong Kong screwball sports comedy which came to our screens 20 minutes lighter than director Stephen Chow had originally intended.

6. Hero (2002)

Director: Zhang Yimou

The cuts: 20 minutes

Director Zhang Yimou is one of the major 'Fifth Generation' Chinese filmmakers, making his name with such films as Raise the Red Lantern and Shanghai TriadOn Miramax’s advice he cut 20 minutes from his Ancient China set martial arts movie Hero — his big commercial breakthrough in the west — in order to make it more palatable for US audiences.

7. The Promise (2005)

Director: Chen Kaige

The cuts: 24 minutes

Something of a theme emerging here… Epic Chinese fantasy from the director of the great Farewell My Concubine had cuts ordered to cater for supposedly less than patient Western audiences.

8. Crossing Over (2009)

Director: Wayne Kramer

The cuts: 25 minutes

Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd are among the stars of this (actually quite rubbish) ensemble character drama set on the streets of LA. "It’s very hard for me to see the theatrical version and not see the missing scenes," said director Kramer of a version which ran 25-minutes lighter due to interventions by the Weinsteins.

9. Fanboys (2009)

Director: Kyle Newman

The cuts: Entire cancer storyline

The nickname ‘Darth Weinstein’ was born after Fanboys fans learnt Weinstein had cut a cancer storyline out of this Star Wars-driven adventure story. Petitions, threats of boycotts and a perfect web storm led to the storyline being reintroduced using reshoots by a different director, Stephen Brill.

10. Dirty Girl (2010)

Director: Abe Sylvia

The cuts: 19 minutes

Juno Temple stars as a high-school dropout who runs away with her closeted gay best friend. Snip went the Weinstein scissors and 19 minutes were gone.

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