Superman: The Movie - The "Donner" Cut

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Faneditor Name:
Franchise:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1979
Original Running Time:
144
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
144
Time Cut:
14
Time Added:
14
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
The 1979 SUPERRMAN: THE MOVIE was plagued with issues during production leading to many changes which resulted in two films being released (Superman and Superman II) which significantly differed from what was originally intended; a single epic movie. As money ran out the producers changed the end of SUPERMAN to the film we now know. This now is as close to the original structure, no turning back time, no Lois gets squised, as you can get. The cliffhanger lead in to SUPERMAN II: The Donner cut or the forthcoming SUPERMAN II Extended .
Intention:
in 1978 when I bought the DC SUPERMAN SOUVENIER mag, I did not understand why there were stills in it that were not in the movie. And so began a 40 year search and desire to see what was intended.

The best account of this can be found in this LONG out of print paperback in which the author shadowed the production for a number of years leading to an astonishingly eye opening account of what went wrong...and lot went wrong. It is a miracle these films exist in the form they do frankly.
The Making of Superman the Movie: Amazon.co.uk: david-michael-petrou: 9780446825658: Books
Additional Notes:
This is meant to be what Superman The Movie WOULD have looked like had the producers not panicked and gone for the cliffhanger ending. The intention is that THIS is the film to watch BEFORE SUPERMAN II: THE DONNER CUT (S2DC). It has the least changes, additions and trims and stays true to the intent and feel of the Theatrical Cut but with the "Donner" intended structure per the book above. It is edited to be a perfect lead into the commercially available Superman II, the Donner Cut. Many select additions and corrections were made throughout. This is basically the closest you can get to what the original intention was.
Other Sources:
SUPERMAN CD SCORE
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
The base of this edit is the Theatrical Cut of Superman The Movie: Theatrical Cut (STM-TC), NOT the extended versions, though a few shots/scenes are included. The run time is IDENTICAL to the Theatrical version DESPITE a lot of new scenes and changes being included. I wanted to prove that they could have hit the run time they had WITH the material and cliffhanger. Where did the space come from to include these extras? see below. The idea is that is should feel the same as the TC but and flow seamlessly to S2DC, thus preserving Donners vision across BOTH films.
Cuts and Additions:
- New opening dedication so the Reeve and Unsworth are honored
- MUSIC opening removes the awful key change in the TC that occurs when the "S" flies in (source CD)
- Bespoke WRAITH credit with Stuart Baird
- Villains sentencing uses some S2DC
- A few TINY trims to Jor-El discussion with council to improve flow. Some shots re-purposed
- A new shot of Jor-El lowering Kal-El from the S2DC
- A few TINY trims to the Kryptonians in the earthquake
- Villains in zone shot added from Superman Extended TV version (TV)
- Additional shot of crater from TV
- Clarke chasing train completely re-edited to remove multiple continuity errors (including a shot where Lois is seen to speak, and we hear nothing) - See below for clip.
- Young Clarke approach to barn to get crystal uses some additional TV shots
- TINY trim in Daily Planet at end of Clarkes first day. Scene fely like it naturally ends when he sits.
- Cat rescue removed
- "Can you read my mind" trimmed by 1 minute. VERY hard to pull off. Scene went on for too long. Full audio and scoring rebuild needed. A shorter unused cue was use as the base
- A re-edit of the Extended approach to Luthor's lair is used with an unused cue meant for the scene. Everything is tightened up but it is new to the TC
- First missile flies towards zone as Superman flies back to earth
- We see Jimmy run from rocks from Extended version
- TINY trims to a few bad FX shots
- Lois is NOT crushed
- As Superman flies away from the prison, the phantom zone is destroyed.
- NEXT YEAR SUPERMAN II relocated
and many many more...
- Revised the end credits "coming next year Superman II" to Superman II THE DONNER CUT" in the correct font using the same technique as in Godfather Magnum Opus
Finally, Changes NOT made to this version include....
- NO material from Superman Returns
- NO Feeding the babies
- NO score enhancements
- NO modern DC intro
- NO modern WB logo
- NO revisionist credits in CGI
- NO net addition to the original theatrical run time, yet added 12 mins of material for no discernable loss.
Cover art by Wraith (DOWNLOAD HERE)
image

demo fan mashup s c

User reviews

5 reviews
Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(5)
Visual Editing
 
9.6(5)
Audio Editing
 
9.8(5)
Narrative
 
10.0(5)
Enjoyment
 
9.8(5)
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Another great achievement, have long wondered what Donner's original vision would have looked like. I think I still prefer the original theatrical cut however, if for no reason other than the fact that it left a great impression on me when I first saw it at a young age and remains one of my favourite films, in my view still the peak of superhero cinema.

Some of the cuts and changes work particularly well (especially the trimmed down "Can you read my mind?"), but I do find myself missing bits like the cat rescue (showing how Superman doesn't consider some tasks beneath him) and turning back time: the absence of the latter is of course essential to this edit, but (in comparison to the original) it does feel to me a touch anti-climactic. There are a few noticeable "errors" inherent to the source that do distract me briefly (albeit I am fairly familiar with the source and was watching with a fine-tooth comb), maybe these could be addressed in an update?

Overall though, it seems that a piece of "what could have been" history hitherto missing has been found, thanks Wraith for "finding" it!

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Top 50 Reviewer 58 reviews
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Overall rating
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Wraith's fanedit is, once again (just like his John Wayne Alamo movie) evidence of the value of the FanEdit website. Faneditors do not merely create new storylines, they can also preserve and recreate movies as the directors and script-writers originally envisioned, before the studio executives and producers, who have far less vision, start ruining the art.

This fanedit has genuine historical value!

Wraith had created the film that Richard Donner could have - and should have - been allowed to release to the cinemas back in 1978.

The only artistic error in the movie, which is not the fault of Wraith, if that if Donner had been permitted to create this version, he would undoubtedly have refilmed the final scene with Lois at her car, with Superman (Christopher Reeve) not being teary-eyed, since Lois had not died / been revived, as in the original Superman: The Movie.

Other than that, the film is cinematically priceless.

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(Updated: October 03, 2022)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
The superman films were a big part of my childhood, watched many a time, less so as I got older but still present.

one of the last times I watched Superman was when I bought the epic 188 minute tv version, imported. it's didn't quite hit the same way as the special edition extended cut did. But I appreciate it's importance in terms of restoration and in wide screen *when we would have likely watched Pan and Scan version on tv back in the day) Anyway I digress.

Wraith has done a fantastic Job with this edit from a narrative standpoint. Krypton has always been one of my least favourite parts of the film and though some time is spent on it, it seems like only necessary time was spent here. maybe I'm misremembering but the destruction sequence seemed about 3 times longer when I was younger.

Onto young Clark, I always liked Jeff East - though its's hard to judge his performance when Reeves rerecorded his lines. I still am not fond of the train sequence as it doesn't look like he 's physically running faster than the train but that's not a visual fault I'd expect a fanedit to fix. We don't spend too much time with teen Clark overall, and I think that's the thing it's an hour before we see Reeve in the costume. The first hour just pretty much flies by. One thing I love about the first scene with the establishing shot of the Daily planet is the Fruit vendor outside, it just helps set up that that part of the Donner cut in II.
Things play out mostly as remembered for a while until the heroic deeds montage.- it was later where I was thinking about the cat in the tree and had to come back to the cutlist to check if it had been cut or if I was misremembering it as a sequence in Superman II. I didn't mind the scene for the reason that it shows Superman will take time out of being super to help someone with a problem no matter how small, but given how vicious the cat seems and the fact the girl gets smacked for "telling lies" I guess the bad reasons outweigh the good.
I loved that the date scene was shorter, again only a minute but what a difference that minute made. I'd love a revised version without any of Lois' inner monologue lol.
I couldn't remember the entirety of Lex's scheme, I remembered the car crash and the bridge, but not the squabbling in the ambulance in between.
Also I couldn't remember if Superman's makeshift dam was part of the theatrical cut or the special edition. The one thing I remember specifically being from the SE was the bullets ,fire and ice traps outside of Lex's base. On the one hand you wonder why he'd even bother trying, but on the flipside of that is maybe he wouldn't want Superman to be suspicious if he just arrived without any form of hindrance.

It's rare to find edits for Superman: The movie, I think the last one I watched years ago was the Up Up and Away edition which similarly truncated the time reversal and had Lois car simply stall- that's all I remember about that particular edit. I think the pacing here was great throughout. There was one part I forget where that had a little writing in the lower right corner, I thought it was a hiccup with the editing software but Wraith has confirmed this was intentional to confirm the source of the footage. I've amended the review to reflect this.

That small error aside, this was a great revisit to a beloved childhood franchise and made for a fantastic Sunday afternoon experience.
Thank you Wraith

User Review

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Yes
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Digital
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Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Wraith is a great editor and communicator of his passion and vision. I am very happy to have been able to make his acquaintance through this site and enjoy the vision of the edits of Superman he has clearly worked on as an ultimate labor of love.

I am reviewing and recommending this cut most of all, as paired with Bobson's Superman II Extended cut it does complete the vision for me of what I have looked for in a Superman edit all these years. Many attempts have been made at great edits, but I've often found them either 1) limited by source material, or 2) not quite grabbing the right combination of essentials that, for me, make up the experience.

Take the beginning of Superman. The entire Krypton and Smallville sequences, including the trip north, for me, set the standard for the entire superhero genre. I'm not the best one to say such things, since I don't watch superhero movies, don't care, couldn't be less interested, especially with the fact that it just seems like a frenzied fad more than anything else these days. But these films, especially these opening setpieces, are a world apart from the current trend in movies and occupy their own "fortress of solitude", as it were.

I prefer this edit over the Epic cut Wraith has done with the story because of an essential that's needed in the opening, and that is the first scene with Martha and Jonathan. It is not a long scene, but does give the film that bit so needed to develop the characters, especially as Jonathan has just two scenes - the 2nd being his very affecting death scene. I find these scenes incredibly poignant - both sets of parents played off the other - especially the dynamic of Jor-El and Martha as two sides of the same coin (Superman's actual mother doesn't have a lot to do). The reverence given to these scenes is incredibly important, and anyone who goes through a Superman edit must use Wraith's standard, as it keeps all of the essentials in tact.

The narrative develops perfectly, with the good balance of story vs needed humor (isn't Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty's chemistry a scream?), all that Margot Kidder-spoken song appropriately truncated (this was always a VHS-fast-forward moment). The buildup leading towards the big detonation moment doesn't feel forced, always easy to follow, and buffered with character scenes that do feel essential, even if they could be removed for narrative purposes.

The one edit in the entire experiment here that, for me, could use a little more tweaking (or just left alone from its original state) is the "truth, justice, and the American way" comment, which was edited out. The problem isn't the decision per se, although we could see it as a charmingly naive aspect of Kal-El's personality, especially when paired against Lois's exasperated response (she's correct!) The problem with the edit is the 'nod' after his "truth, justice....." moment - that extra beat takes us out of the moment, especially when we're so used to the 'trilogy'. It's awkward, but how else *could* it have been edited? Wraith does what he can with it, although, again, leaving it alone is still, especially in 2022, charmingly quaint for Superman in an old-fashioned kind of way.

But that's a nitpick. The ending - Superman taking the route as scripted, no world-revolving, etc. - works as it should (Lois's exasperation when he shows up post-time travel, in the original, doesn't make sense with her rant about gas stations blowing up, etc., if she was indeed now saved - the original had the explosions and all that alongside the earthquake, if I remember correctly.). Now, everything fits as it absolutely should. Superman saves the day but Zod & co are freed.

The pacing is the key here, as it is with Bobson's II extended edit. Everything left in the edit to pad the character development is essential (too many other fanedits jettison this stuff for the sake of time). We're not in any kind of hurry here, and Wraith understands this. The care put into the opening, even if it is 'truncated' compared to the extra bits in the 'epic cut', is evident (the little edits aren't noticed). I so cherish the beginning of Superman, everything leading up to Metropolis, and it's all carefully rendered, nothing jarring, nothing that takes us out of the moment.

Wraith, your edit here - Donner cut - is my go-to edit from here on. Thanks for fulfilling a long dream since the dawn of fanediting - to have a complete vision of Superman as Donner intended.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 2 0
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
It's miraculous that the first Reeve Superman movies are hailed as some of the best superhero movies ever made given the circumstances surrounding the push of the 'panic button' by executives. With a few simplistic edits and a couple of touch ups, Wraith demonstrates just how unnecessary some of those decisions were. The picture would have stood up to scrutiny with it's original intention left intact.

This theatrical cut touches all the principle beats you need, a straight uncomplicated narrative without too much padding or overbloated sensationalistic stunts like shock value 'deaths' and time traversing twists. Everything has stricter verisimilitude and as a result, you believe all the more in what you're seeing.

Not much else I can say about this, it's not a radical reinvention of the wheel, it simply puts some toys back in the box, and leaves you wanting more to play with. An all time great simply made into the great it could have well been. Panic averted.
Owner's reply May 18, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to review.

All feedback is welcome. You told it how it was and validation for an editor (as you know) is just as important as constructive or technical comments since they re-enforces the intent and drive behind the work. Thus, more such pieces of work may follow in time from me and others. So thanks !

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