A Director's Cut of Tombstone was released in 2002 in the course of the "Vista Series". The DVD is a jewel: Beside an extended version of the movie it offers a beautiful Digipackage, 2 DVD's in DTS and DD 5.1. and tons of extras. The DC offers some, but few, new scenes which close a rift of plots. The DC doesn't invent the movie again, but it enhances it.
Different sources claimed to have evidences the old theatrical version had a PG-13 in the U.S. and only the DC was rated R. Curiously the DC don't offers additional violence or nudity. Even the Amazon.com database states the movie is R-rated in its theatircal version.
Compared is the theatrical version with the director's cut.
The DC has an additional runtime of about 6 minutes, not as it is often stated to be 9 minutes.
Mattie (Wyatt Earps wife) is stumbling through their room. Earp (Kurt Russel) washes hisself. When he opens a drawer he finds several empty flasks of laudanum (opiate medicine). He lifts up the flasks and shows them to his wife. He asks her what this is all about and she tells him that she needs it. He throws them away in anger and tells her that he is at least glad she admits her doings. She follows him and asks him what she did admit, that she is addicted to opium. She tries to calm down the situation and she tells him that she needs the durg to keep herself warm at night (an insinuation that Earp is not there for her and that she suspects him to cheat her). Now Earp tries to calm her down and tells her that he knows her very well. She interrupts him and says that he doesn’t even have any idea who she is. She explains that she often sees him laughing but she doesn’t feel that there is any space for her in his laughing and that’s the reason why she feels cold. Earp looks disappointed and sad. In tears she asks him what the relation between him and the other woman is about. He tries to soothe the situation again. Angrily she wants to know if he would meet the woman and tell her that she is nothing but scum for him. Earp lowers his head because he doesn’t want to lie.
When Earps brother (Bill Paxton) is shot in front of the billiard table Earp turns around in slow-motion. The DC shows the scene even slower that the TV.
Slo-Mo length in the TV: 14,96
Slo-Mo length in the Director’s Cut: 19,27 Sec.
Difference: 4,31 Sec.
Right after the sequence where Earp is standing in the rain and cries for his dead brother the DC shows a short scene in which Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) recites something of Kublai Khan. Just before he does one can see him, bathed in sweat because of his bad condition.
„Weave a Circle ‚round him thrice
close your eyes with holy dread
for he on honey-dew hath fed.
And drunk the milk of paradise”
The DC offers a new scene after Earp chauffeured the coffin of his brother. Doc Holliday prepares his horse for a trip. His wife (Kate) meets him and tells him that it is every time because of Wyatt. Doc tells her that Earp has resigned everything to do what he has to do. He wants to add that he just can call himself a friend when his explanations abruptly ends and he continues to care for his horse. Kate follows him and tells him that she is his wife and what will happen to her. Doc only makes a joke (that she probably will have nothing to eat). This joke shows that he knows that his wife is only his wife because she can survive and feel good because of him (she even didn’t take any responsibility when he felt in a very bad condition). He leaves the stable on his horse. Kate yells that he is a bastard. He tells her that he will move on now and if she has a nice last word for him. She looks at him but is to proud to tell him something. Doc comments her behaviour with a negation and rides on. She yells after him.
Remark: This scene is a perfect addition. It dramatizes the character of Doc Holliday without being kitchy. – Val Kilmer offers a brilliant performance here. It is also explained why Kate doesn’t appear in the rest of the movie.
When Wyatt says goodbye to Louisa and the carriage drives right on into the sunset the last short take offers alternative material. The TV shows the carriage to turn left immediately while the DC shows how it goes on. Even the take before of Louisa and Wyatt, who is looking after her, differ. The DC is a bit longer because of the dissolving to the next scene. There is a difference of 1.5 seconds.
The reason for alternative material might be that in addition to this scene the DC shows a new sequence.
Left: Director’s Cut, | Right: TV
The new scene explains how McMasters (Earps helper who once was a cowboy) looses his life. One can see cowboys. McMasters rides directly to them. He dismounts his horse and asks Ringo if he wants to talk. Ringo (Michael Biehn) tries to convince him to be a cowboy again. McMasters denies because he doesn’t want to scare women. When Ringo feels he won’t convinve him he turns away. Ike takes his gun, moves onto McMasters and holds the gun onto his cheek. He maliciously asks him what McMasters think how he can come back to his friends again.
Because of the new scene the DC lacks a short view on the farm. (5.48 sec.)