Comparison between the Theatrical Version on Capelight's German Blu-ray (FSK 12 / corresponds to the globally used, American R-Rated version) and the Criterion Collection Blu-ray (BBFC 15 / also bears the R-Rated logo).
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH censored worldwide thanks to US R rating
Fast Times at Ridgemont High boasts Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Nicolas Cage in their early years. Debut director Amy Heckerling created a small cult film of the 80s here in 1982. Even though times have changed, of course, the sense of the troubles of the youthful protagonists still comes out well. On top of that, the coming-of-age teen comedy manages the balancing act of still seeming charmingly innocent, but working off some taboo topics with, for example, the blowjob demonstration with carrots, the masturbation scene (including Phoebe Cates' legendary topless appearance at the pool) and, last but not least, the abortion tactfully integrated into the plot.
With one more scene, however, Heckerling ran into resistance from the MPAA, which gave it the infamous X-rating on its first run. Sex between the characters portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Robert Romanus originally saw a bit more semi-explicit material, but according to Leigh, this mostly highlighted the awkwardness of the two.
In any case, for the R-rated theatrical release, which has always been common worldwide, a few censorship cuts had to be made at this point. In addition, the examiners disliked the fact that one could briefly see Romanus' exposed private parts for less than 2 seconds. Therefore, in the critical shot, the image was zoomed in so that only his upper body could be visible.
New 4K restoration corrects at least one previously censored scene
It wasn't until nearly 40 years later that there was another small surprise here, as a new 4K transfer was created in close collaboration with Heckerling for the Blu-ray reissue released in parallel in America on May 11, 2021 and the UK on May 17, 2021 by fan favorite label Criterion Collection. The bonus material extensively addresses the censorship at the time, both the actual cuts and the involuntary zoom. The director took the opportunity to do a reframing on this scene from the larger original footage.
For the first time ever, we now see Romanus' genital area for a harmlessly brief moment. The other cut shots, however, could again unfortunately not be restored. It should be noted that all the original footage from the shoot was destroyed by Universal, according to statements in the bonus material. However, even this small censorship-historically exciting deviation with a different image section is of course worth mentioning. Heckerling already criticized the double standard at the time of the film's release, that the review board again saw no problems with the female genitals in other moments. Accordingly, this reconstruction had a special significance for her.
Note: In the bonus material of the Blu-ray from Criterion Collection you can also find the American TV version, which is once again a particularly weird case. Similar to Mallrats, the film has really been censored extremely extensively here to remove crude dialogue, nudity and drug use. At the same time, however, there are quite a few new scenes to discover, including several with Nicolas Cage, for example. More on that later in a separate report.
Runtimes are ordered as follows: German Blu-ray / Criterion Blu-ray
Note: The German Blu-ray runs in 24fps, which explains the slightly shorter runtime compared to the Criterion Blu-ray, which comes in 23.976fps.
Additional Criterion logo at beginning of the Theatrical Version.
Not included in cut duration/quantity.
Introducing a little image comparison. In principle, the Criterion Collection shows almost the same section as the old HD master throughout, but is always zoomed in more than the latter. This is noticeable right from the very first shot of the film with the now cut off word "Mall".
Apart from that, the picture on Criterion is a bit more natural in its coloring, sharper and overall quite better, although this of course hardly comes across here with the compressed size. See also the picture comparison on caps-a-holic.com or the review on Blu-ray.com.
Note: On the previous DVD by Universal, the image section was even a very small tad bigger on all sides before. But it is basically probably the same master, which then formed the basis for the Blu-rays by Capelight (Germany) and Universal (abroad).
58:15-58:17 / 58:31-58:34
After Stacy takes off her panties, Mike does the same during a 2.5 second shot.
This is now the first time Criterion has chosen a different frame (apparently compared to all previous releases) from the larger, unmasked camera footage. The shot is the same, but Criterion is missing a part of the picture at the top. However, Mike's genital area is now visible at the bottom.
No time difference.
After identical credits, the Criterion Blu-ray has a reference to the US release and Universal Studios. Somewhat curiously, the R rating appears here and also on the back cover, although the scene just described prevented this at the time, after all.