I can watch favorite scenes from a movie many times without getting tired of it, much like many people listen to their favorite songs again and again. This usually happens in the evening when I’m winding down from the day. Or, in the case of recent events, winding down from the week. (I think we all know what I’m talking about.) So when something in one of these movies is different, I tend to notice.
I was flipping through the movie channels late last week to see what was on that was worth spending a few minutes with and came across the 1996 movie Executive Decision starring Kurt Russell and Halle Berry. If you know the movie, you’ll remember that the movie is about a group of
radical Islamic terrorists bad guys who hijack a plane from Europe and plan to wipe out Washington, DC with some stolen nerve gas they have fitted with a bomb on the plane.
“Wait,” you may be thinking, “why did you strikethrough the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ and replace it with ‘bad guys’? The movie was about terrorists of the Muslim faith. Wasn’t it?”
Well, yes. And, apparently, no.
The version I saw way back when and, as far as I can remember, ever since was about terrorists striking out against “the infidel” in the name of Allah and Islam. It just so happened that the scene I stopped on, where a member of the team that hijacked the airliner is confronting the team leader, is one where they spoke of Allah, and Islam, and the infidel. Except in this version the reference was not to “Allah” but to “Jaffa”, the organization’s leader, and the reference was to the “enemy” and not the “infidel”.
It would be easy to think, especially with the discourse of recent history, that someone somewhere had recently decided to edit the movie to remove the religious references. (An interesting side note: Marla Maples Trump appeared in the film.) But a little digging took me to movie-censorship.com (man, I love the Web) and some insight into what is probably happening here:
„Executive Decision“ was at first released in Germany and the UK in an adapted, pre-censored version. Probably this also concerns other European countries and maybe Australia too (Caution: was not checked, but it’s rather likely. If you have Infos please leave a comment). Many references to the Islamic-fundamentalistic background of the terrorists were deleted in this pre-censored version. The UK version moreover contains some further cuts due to violence. The old US version was uncut.
By this time, the movie has been released on Blu-ray in many countries, in the USA too. But it seems that Warner used the old pre-censored master for the BD. This master is the source for all Blu-rays worldwide. So the cut version was released in the USA for the first time.
Though I’m not really sure what they mean by “pre-censored”, it appears that this version I saw is, in fact, the version released back in 1996 in Europe. Which leads to a whole bunch of other questions, such as, “Why did Warner use these old pre-censored masters for the BluRay instead of the masters from the US release?” I’m sure there is a good answer somewhere.
My point in all of this is…. I’m not sure what my point is, really. It all started because I noticed something different from what I was expecting. In fact, when I first noticed it I wasn’t sure. And if I hadn’t had the DVR, closed captioning*, and, ultimately, the Web, I might have just let it go, chalked it up to a faulty memory. And I think that maybe that is the point.
If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, for whatever reason, take the time to understand why you think it seems wrong. Take the time to understand what is going on. Pay attention to what is happening around you and be willing to question those things that don’t make sense, or contradict your expectations.
* Though I knew that what the actors were saying was not what I remembered, I really had no way to confirm it. Except for the fact that the closed captions** in the broadcast had not been changed, and reflected exactly what I remembered. Which raises a whole ‘nother train of thought about dotting “i”s and crossing “t”s when you are making changes in a complex environment.
** We’ve had closed captioning enabled on all of our TVs since the mid-90’s. Did you know that the HDMI protocol doesn’t support the CC signal?