Have you ever watched a deleted scene on your DVD extras and thought, “Gee, that fundamentally alters my understanding of this movie?”
On Wednesday, The Devil Wears Prada fans found themselves faced with such a dilemma thanks to a tweet of a deleted scene featuring a more grateful Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep) in the middle of the film’s second act.
For many, it was a massive shift in their understanding of Miranda Priestley and the care with which the film builds her icy exterior and remove.
Directors (or studios) cut films for many reasons (often to reduce running time), but sometimes the scenes left on the cutting room floor help fill in key plot holes or decisively alter our perception of a particular character.
Here are 8 deleted scenes that could have decisively changed the movies in question had they not been cut.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The questions at the core of the film – why does Andi (Anne Hathaway) stay at a job where people treat her so terribly? Why is Miranda so awful? – are basically demolished by this simple deleted scene. Emily (Emily Blunt) and Miranda’s (Meryl Streep) uncharacteristic kindness and gratitude toward Andi are in itself a strange departure for their character arcs.
The thing that really earns this scene its spot on the cutting room floor is how it undercuts the film’s conclusion – Miranda’s shocking, tearful confession about her divorce and her closing smile are entirely undone by what we witness here. Seeing her drunken, boorish husband, Andi’s swift moves to assist her boss — and her resulting “thank you” — telegraphs the conclusion and eliminates some of the nuance Streep brought to the role.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Ever wonder why Obi Wan never just straight up told Luke that Darth Vader was his father instead of all the double talk? Apparently, Yoda forbid him to do so, according to raw footage of a deleted scene on Yoda’s deathbed where the Jedi Master says, “Obi Wan would’ve told you long ago had I let him.” (What is it with elderly, wise advisors obscuring crucial information from their charges? Cough * Dumbledore * Cough)
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awakens in space after 57 years of hypersleep to discover her daughter has aged and died while she’s been away. In the theatrical release, she shrugs off this loss, but a deleted scene reveals just how devastating her daughter’s death is for Ripley. Later in the film, she rescues Newt (Carrie Henn) and takes her under her wing as a sort of adopted daughter. The loss of this scene removed crucial context and character development from the film – Ripley is a woman driven by the loss her child whom she had promised to return to before her 11th birthday.
Blade Runner (1982)
Fans of the original Blade Runner eagerly anticipate the release of Blade Runner 2049 in the hopes that the sequel may finally answer whether Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a human or a replicant. But many suggest Ridley Scott already answered that question in a deleted scene that features Deckard daydreaming about a unicorn. In the original cut, Deckard finds an origami unicorn left by Gaff (Edward James Olmos) during his escape with Rachael (Sean Young) — the deleted scene seems to provide the missing link to that scene, suggesting Deckard’s a replicant and Gaff knows.
Independence Day (1996)
Yes, we’re often willing to excuse plot holes in big budget action films, but one glaring question in Independence Day centers on how David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) could manage to wipe out the advanced technology of the aliens’ mothership with his MacBook Pro (I mean, we know Apple’s good, but c’mon). Turns out there’s a deleted scene (start at 5:59) where Levinson devises the crippling virus while visiting an old spaceship in a Roswell Area 51 crash area.
The Lion King (1994)
Sure it’s super romantic when Nala and Simba reunite in the jungle and feel the love tonight. But what is she even doing out there away from the pride in the first place? A deleted scene reveals Nala was banished from Pride Rock after rejecting Scar’s proposal (set to an icky, leering version of “Be Prepared”) to become his new queen.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
It’s not like The Lord of the Rings franchise actually needs a longer running time, but there is a deleted scene that helps fill in some useful plot points. In The Fellowship of The Ring, Boromir (Sean Bean) lusts after “The One Ring,” but ultimately gives his life to save Merry and Pippin. When we meet his younger brother Faramir (David Wenham) in The Two Towers, he seems likely to succumb to the same lust for power that has destroyed lesser men. But a deleted flashback scene reveals that both brothers’ designs on the ring stem not from their own ambitions, but from their father’s explicit orders to travel to Rivendell and steal the ring to bring back to Gondor.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Perhaps one of the most famous deleted scenes of all time, “The Jitterbug” was a musical number eliminated from the Hollywood classic. Though little to no footage remains of the dance number, there is still a scene where the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) tells the flying monkeys she sent something ahead to “take the fight out of” Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her friends. We never see what that is – a bug that exhausts those it bites by making them dance till they drop.
With its storied production history, The Wizard of Oz had many cuts and changes. A romance was supposed to exist between farmhand Zeke (Ray Bolger) and Dorothy, thus explaining her line to the Scarecrow, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.” Thankfully, the scene studio brass most wanted cut — Garland’s performance of “Over the Rainbow” — was left intact.