Quentin Tarantino been known to unleash some seriously long running times for his epic actioners. Inglorious Basterds clocked in at 153 minutes, Pulp Fiction was 154. And Kill Bill turned out so long it was released in two parts that totaled up to 247 minutes long. At 165 minutes Tarantino's upcoming Django Unchained comes somewhere in the middle, but this number—based on its current theatrical release—was come to after many discussions with The Weinstein Company, discussions which still seem unresolved.
At a press day this weekend, some interesting new possibilities were offered about Django Unchained and its runningtime. Chief among them, releasing Django Unchained in two parts. The Playlist reports this was the proposition Harvey Weinstein mentioned when it looked like Tarantino's latest could merit it, but Tarantino rejected the idea, explaining:
"You have to follow Django's journey to the end. There are so many emotions – there's the action adventure, the gallow's humor comedy that runs through it, there's the pain of the story, there's the catharsis, there's the suspense, and hopefully at the end there's cheering, if the audience isn't cheering then I haven't done my job."
The garrulous filmmaker confesses, that like his previous films, he had sketched out a very involved screenplay that reads almost like a novel, then surprisingly admits,
"If I had to do this whole thing over again I would have published this as a novel and done this after the fact. Maybe next time. I could do what Kevin Costner did with the expanded edition of 'Dances with Wolves,' and I could very well do that. Because if I put some of that in I have to change the story. But I want this version to be the story for a while."
That's right. The film hasn't even opened yet, and already is also considering releasing an extended edition of Django Unchained. He adds, though he wants to ""I'm going to wait until the film goes around the world, does what it does. And then I'm going to make a decision."
It might seem strange for Tarantino to still be considering the cut at this point, but it's worth noting Django Unchained marks the first film he's made without his long-time editor/collaborator Sally Menke, who died tragically in 2010. Some critics who've seen the feature—myself included—feel like Django Unchained lacks the sharpness and self-assurance of Tarantino's typical output, and have pointed to the drastic change to his postproduction as a possible source for this problem. More than most directors, Tarantino has been very outspoken about the impact his editor, Menke, has had on his films, explaining that he considers the editing room to be the place where his screenplay gets finalized. Considering that, you expect the absence of Menke to cause a shakeup in his work. But with the critical community widely embracing Tarantino's latest, it seems this backslide isn't all that damning.
For more on Tarantino and Menke's working relationship, seek out the insightful and engaging documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Moviemaking.