The Wild Bunch: The Reviews
Obviously outstanding Reviews – both by audience and Critics.
There is much that has been said and written about The Wild Bunch – certainly one of the most controversial movies ever made: reviled or celebrated, almost in equal kind from it’s inception. Also definitely one of the most dissected and analyzed movies ever made. And people are still doing so: What were Peckinpah’s motives? What was he trying to say? Was a good part of the movie a personal self analysis/Statement? What impact has the move had? and on and on …
There seems to be no aspect of anything that Peckinpah did in the last part of his career that escaped scrutiny and controversy.
But the studio editing 10 minutes from the original 1969 movie so that they could get three showings in the theatres – instead of 2 – is unforgivable. Yet they did it. Little wonder Peckinpah so detested the ‘money men’.
“The 1995 re-release of The Wild Bunch is 145 minutes long, identical to the 1969 European release, the version labeled “The Original Director’s Cut”, available in home video.
In 1993, Warner Bros. resubmitted the film to the MPAA ratings board prior to an expected re-release. To the studio’s surprise, the originally R-rated film was given an NC-17, delaying the release until the decision was appealed. The controversy was linked to 10 extra minutes added to the film, although none of this footage contained graphic violence. Warner Bros. trimmed some footage to decrease the running time to ensure additional daily screenings. When the restored film finally made it to the screen in March 1995, one reviewer noted:
By restoring 10 minutes to the film, the complex story now fits together in a seamless way, filling in those gaps found in the previous theatrical release, and proving that Peckinpah was firing on all cylinders for this, his grandest achievement…. And the one overwhelming feature that the director’s cut makes unforgettable are the many faces of the children, whether playing, singing, or cowering, much of the reaction to what happens on-screen is through the eyes, both innocent and imitative, of all the children.
Today, almost all of the versions of the film include the missing scenes. Warner Bros. released a newly restored version in a two-disc special edition on January 10, 2006. It includes an audio commentary by Peckinpah scholars, two documentaries concerning the making of the film, and never-before-seen outtakes.
There have been several versions of the film:
- The original, 1969 European release is 145 minutes long, with an intermission (per distributor’s request, before the train robbery).
- The original, 1969 American release is 143 minutes long.
- The second, 1969 American release is 135 minutes long, shortened to allow more screenings.
- The 1995 re-release is 145 minutes long, identical to the 1969 European release, the version labeled “The Original Director’s Cut”, available in home video.”
We need only know that since Sam Peckinpah (and Walon Green) did the writing/screenplay for The Wild Bunch that there is nothing in the Director’s Cut that Pekinpah didn’t want in there and everything that is in there is what he wanted to say …