Gangs Of New York Would've Been Be 3 1/2 Hours Long If Not For Weinstein

Gangs Of New York Would've Been Be 3 1/2 Hours Long If Not For Weinstein
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Martin Scorsese Gangs of New York is a great film, but what if we told you that there's something still grander and greater missing from it?

You see, the theatrical version of Gangs of New York was heavily edited, with numerous scenes removed. The original cut, which was shown to a few journalists in 2001, is said to be over 3 ½ hours in length. It is probably still hidden in a vault somewhere.

And why it was edited so sharply? Well, some of the reasons for that are practical. Even today a film of that length would have raised quite a few eyebrows, as 2 ½ hours is considered to be the rough upper limit of runtime for theatrical releases, and few of them match the actual length of Gangs of New York's theatrical cut (167 minutes).

Back in 2001, when films were on average a good deal shorter, releasing a film of over 210 minutes probably would have been unthinkable.

But Jeffrey Wells, one of the journalists who saw the original cut, claimed that there also was an internal struggle between Scorsese and the Miramax head honcho of that time, Harvey Weinstein, which ended with Weinstein winning and pushing through "a polished, cleaned-up version" of the film.

As Wells said, "I don't believe Scorsese for a second when he says the theatrical version coming out this Friday is the one that bears his personal stamp of preference. My guess is that Harvey's mitts are all over this puppy. Scorsese may have his weaknesses or indulgences as a filmmaker, but he's always let his films play at their own pace and allow them to be true to themselves — their own tempo, themes, moods."

He also added that "he's never been one to speed his films up when they weren't working." (via)

Weinstein himself pretty much confirmed that.

"So Marty presents the final cut of the movie to me as a final-cut director and it's three hours and thirty-six minutes," he said in an interview back in 2013. "If you thought there was action in 'Gangs of New York' the movie, you should have seen that editing room! But we got the movie down to two hours and 36. "

Then again, according to Wells, the original film used the narration track, to its detriment, and generally was less cinematic and expressive. Until and unless the original cut sees the light of day, we can't be sure about its superiority to the theatrical cut.