Director’s cuts: sometimes they’re the definitive version that the auteur wanted to make all along, and sometimes they’re a demonstration of why letting the director have the final cut isn’t always such a great idea. Either way, until recently, the music video has been largely untouched by the entire director’s cut phenomenon, but the recent appearance of a new version of Nirvana’s iconic “Heart-Shaped Box” video got us thinking about other alternate cuts of music videos. Here are a selection.
Nirvana — “Heart-Shaped Box”
It’s fascinating to watch this new cut of a video we’ve seen about a gazillion times. Watching the two versions side by side, we see that they’re identical until the third verse — the original features a long shot of Cobain singing with his bandmates sitting motionless behind him, while the new cut returns to the video’s weirdly surreal narrative, with more footage of Ku Klux Klan girl and the woman in the skinless fat suit. It’s not radically different, but it’s interesting.
Miley Cyrus — “We Can’t Stop”
So, um, this exists, which more than anything else is remarkable for the fact that someone has actually owned up to directing Miley’s twerkathon.
Lady Gaga — “Paparazzi”
Remember when Gaga made good videos? Curiously, the key omission from the finished video was her Ladyship riding a spotted white horse with a purple mane, which seems to have been sliced from the finished version precisely because it makes no sense of the video’s narrative.
Nine Inch Nails — “Closer”
It’s hardly surprising that MTV, et al, took one look at the original unedited version of this and nearly went into conniptions. The edited video replaced most of the nasty bits with the cinematic equivalent of “This space intentionally left blank,” and even then was a singularly disconcerting piece of viewing — the director’s cut is exponentially more so. There’s also an extended version kicking around on YouTube.
Marilyn Manson — “(s)AINT”
See also: Reznor’s old mucker Marilyn Manson, who collaborated with Asia Argento on this suitably raunchy video. Marilyn snorts coke off the Bible! Marilyn goes down on various girls! Marilyn gives himself some pretty cursory cuts with a razor blade! Marilyn gets shot up by a bored-looking girl! Curiously, most of these things happen to some extent in the finished version, which doesn’t appear to be toned down any. This is perhaps the one case we can find where the director’s cut (above) is substantially different from the released version, but not for reasons of censorship.
Michael and Janet Jackson — “Scream”
Also from director Mark Romanek, who made “Closer.” Spotting the differences between his cut of The Most Expensive Video Of All Time™ and the final release version is a study in subtlety: apart from the reinstitution of Michael Jackson singing “Stop fucking with me,” which was predictably excised from the broadcast version, there are precisely two differences between this and the original. If you’re an MJ fanatic, you may or may not spot them — either way, the answers are here.
Weezer — “El Scorcho”
A few extra shots, especially during the mid-song freakout. Trust me, I watched the two of them side by side on YouTube.
Beyoncé — “Listen”
Two videos, and they both get the director’s cut treatment. These days, all we get are Pepsi commercials and brand synergy.
Rammstein — “Pussy”
Unsurprisingly, there are two versions of the video that accompanied Rammstein’s amusingly tongue-in-cheek ode to not being able to get laid in Germany — mainly because the director’s cut, such as it is, is basically the members of Rammstein making a porn film. The made-for-TV version was substantially tamer — but if you want to see the jizz-tastic version, click “play” above. Just, for the love of god, don’t do so at work. (Or if anyone’s standing behind you.)