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Re: [dvd-discuss] Chain sues to edit films

On Friday, August 30, 2002, at 02:37  PM, mickey wrote:

> This was covered as a "what-if" on this list some time ago....mickeym
> http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Movies/08/30/film.lawsuit.reut/index.html

I think the Director's Guild of America puts a lot of stock in the 
"auteur"  theory-- that a film is "authored" by the director, and it is 
the director that imbues a film with a distinctive artistic quality. 
(originally set forth by François Truffaut, "Un certaine tendance du 
cinéme francaise"). A good director will transcend the inherent 
industrialism of film production to produce a work that can be judged on 
aesthetic merit. It is the primary justification for the "A film by" 
credit-- which is also claimed by screenwriters.

This "auteur theory" justifies to some extent, the concept of the 
"director's cut"-- a cut of the film that represents the culmination of 
this artistic vision, and is then cruelly ripped apart by the producers, 
the studio, focus groups,  the MPAA ratings board, and local censors. 
Cynics will note that the director's cut is more often used to promote 
new editions of DVD releases.

Video store edits of existing films come in conflict with the ideals of 
the DGA because they add yet another layer of insulation between the 
director's "artistic conception" and the final product. The video store 
may argue that its cuts do not impinge on artistic integrity but that 
argument is itself an aesthetic judgment.

(I must admit-- I am mildly curious at the thought of a clean David 
Mamet film, though).

Of course, except in the cases of limited edition or unique artistic 
works, the so called "moral rights" do not entail to U.S authors. My 
guess is that the DGA's position is formed around the following 
nightmarish scenario.

1. Utah Video store wins.
2. The studios, sensing that there is a market for such bowdlerized 
versions, releases slightly more expensive "Utah" versions-- which would 
damage the artistic credibility of the censored directors.