The new version of The New World.

The new version of The New World. June 23, 2008

Warner Brothers, which recently took over the New Line library of films, issued a press release today stating that they will release an “extended cut” of Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005) on October 14:

This edition of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar®-nominated epic recreating the turbulent first days of the new America now features more than 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage, heightening the viewing experience with more battles, more intensity and more visual splendor.

Jeffrey Wells adds the detail that this new version of the film will be 172 minutes long, or almost three hours.

So, that makes three versions of the film out there:

  1. The 149-minute version shown to critics in December 2005, and briefly to audiences in Los Angeles and New York so that it would qualify for the Academy Awards; this version has never been released to DVD in North America, though I understand it is available as part of a two-disc package in Italy.
  2. The 135-minute version released to theatres everywhere in January 2006, and then on DVD. This version added some new footage, in addition to cutting over 14 minutes of footage from the original version.
  3. The 172-minute version coming to DVD in October.

Now, when you think about the various lengths, you realize something: The new version is only 23 minutes longer than the longest version released to date — so if the press release is correct when it says that the new version will have “more than 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage”, it would seem that some of the footage from the 149-minute version, and perhaps even some of the footage that was unique to the 135-minute version, will remain on the cutting-room floor.

Or perhaps the folks at Warner have forgotten about the 149-minute version, or perhaps they are pretending it doesn’t exist.

At any rate, this is very good news for those of us who have been keen to see the three-hour version ever since the makers of this film talked about that version at the press junket two and a half years ago.

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