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Matt Damon Says Original Cut Of 'All Of The Pretty Horses' With Daniel Lanois Score Still Exists

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by Kevin Jagernauth
December 19, 2012 9:49 AM
9 Comments
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Let's rewind to the year 2000 -- Matt Damon was coming off of an impressive string of films including "Good Wll Hunting," "Rounders," and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Meanwhile, many were looking forward to seeing what Billy Bob Thornton would deliver next following his breakout directorial debut "Sling Blade." So when both were working together on an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "All The Pretty Horses," expectations were high. But the result was a classic story of studio interference clashing with artistic vision.

It goes something like this: when Thornton handed in his first cut of the movie to Miramax, it was apparently somewhere between 3 and 4 hours, and not surprisingly, he was asked to cut it down. And basically, what ended up in the multiplex, running under 2 hours, was not what Thornton envisioned at all. Harvey Weinstein got involved, and in addition to slashing the movie, ditched the original score by the legendary Daniel Lanois and replaced it with something by Marty Stuart. The movie flopped in theaters both commercially and critically. Many have wondered what happened with Thornton's original version. Apparently, it's still kicking around.

Chatting with Playboy recently, Damon was asked if there was ever an experience that made him want to "pack it all in," and this was one that came to mind. "Everybody who worked on 'All the Pretty Horses' took so much time and cared so much. As you know, the Cormac McCarthy book is set in 1949 and is about a guy trying to hold on to his old way of life. The electric guitar became popular in 1949, and the composer Daniel Lanois got an old 1949 guitar and wrote this spare, haunting score," Damon shared. "We did the movie listening to his score. It informed everything we did. We made this very dark, spare movie, but the studio wanted an epic with big emotions and violins. They saw the cast, the director, Billy Bob Thornton, and the fact that we spent $50 million, and they never released our movie—though the cut still exists. Billy had a heart problem at that time, and it was because his heart fucking broke from fighting for that film. It really fucked him up. It still bothers me to this day."

So, is this the starting point for a petition for somebody to release the full cut? We suppose so, but there is still one stumbling block -- Lanois actually owns the rights to his score, and has thus far refused to license it for any release of the movie. Though presumably if Thornton was allowed to re-instate his original vision, that would change. Needless to say, we're curious. Matt, if you ever want to have us over to watch it, we'll bring the popcorn. 

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9 Comments

  • ROSEMARY RIDDLE | January 7, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    it comes across with that unfinished or satisfied good or bad - i also found the vocal was too low in many cases and had to keep replaying certain parts to hear what they were saying - why didnt the buddy system end when thomas kept warning him - that i didnt find plausable - if it was in the country - but mexico - i think that possibility would have stopped anyone - understandable the love he felt for the daughter was consuming - he couldnt see she was egging him on - where was her mother - too many loose ends in this movie

  • Steve | December 21, 2012 9:27 AMReply

    I had a chance to work on the movie, and was on set everyday. I was so excited to see the final product, and was shocked at the outcome. That wasn't the movie we made - not even close. It was totally butchered, and was a complete let-down compared to what it could have been. Before the final release, Oprah devoted an entire episode to the movie with the cast and crew. Very disheartening, but I would love to see the original cut.

  • FELIX HARBER | April 4, 2013 12:49 PM

    Hi Steve, I'm writing a non-profit article about the film's production story and would absolutely love to chat to you about your experiences and thoughts. I've already had interviews and email conversations with some of the crew and cast so far and would love to include you too. I have a website, which to not alert the spam checker on this website, I have to describe to you as my full name (felixharber) and then dot com. Thank You and hopefully hear from you.

  • BobHoff | December 19, 2012 11:54 AMReply

    I'd also do just about anything to see the original cut of this movie. Truth be told, I really do love the theatrical version, and think it gets a bad rap, but hearing all this about the original version from Damon makes me want it even more. And thanks for chiming in, Mark. Good to hear from someone not involved with the film who's seen it.

  • BobHoff | December 19, 2012 11:46 AMReply

    Granted, it still misses the tone of the film, but the original Mazzy Star / U2 version of the trailer was so much better, in a late-'90s / early-'2000s kind of way... http://youtu.be/I3kGc2zD6SM

  • Mark | December 19, 2012 10:44 AMReply

    Saw the original cut of the movie here in Austin as a test audience...and it was amazing...from the photography to the acting to the score..and if I remember right, it was right around four hours..but it never felt like it...all i put on my comment card was "don't let them change a goddamned thing.." but knew they wouldn't have the coruage to back Billy Bob up...It's sad really..people missed out on a really well made film...I've always hoped for a re-release of the "real" film..

  • FELIX HARBER | April 4, 2013 12:46 PM

    Hi Mark! I'm writing a non profit article about the film and particularly what became of the director's cut. I'm organizing interviews at the moment with the filmmakers and affiliates with some fantastic success so far and I'd be extremely happy if you'd participate for it too with your thoughts and opinions of what you saw. I have a website that to not alert the spam checker on this website, I'll describe it as my name, which FelixHarber and the dot com. Thank You

  • MAL | December 19, 2012 11:13 AM

    I'm envious. I love McCarthy's work and would have been happy to see a more faithful adaptation. That said, so much of my admiration comes in his use of language. For example, while The Road was a more or less faithful adaptation, there was no way a film was going to capture the layers hiding under the surface of that seemingly simple book.

  • lakjfslkj | December 19, 2012 10:01 AMReply

    That's a fucking funny trailer. Compare that to The Road or No Country for Old Men. They obviously had no idea how to market Cormac McCarthy back then. Looks like a CW pilot.

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