Release: May 11, 2011 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Compared are the shortened US Version, represented by the US Box from A&E Home Entertainment and the uncut* Version, represented by the German DVD Box (FSK 16).
The Germans had to wait for a very long time until all 45 episodes of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" were released in a DVD box set. It finally happened at 20.03.2007. Another option would have been an import of the US Box by A&E Home Entertainment which had already been available for more than 5 years at that time. It contains 14 discs and each is full of funny and kindly created bonus material (escpecially the menus with Gilliam's animations are awesome). The German Box on the other hand contains only 7 discs with all episodes, no bonus material.
Nevertheless the German release isn't that bad. It's not too expensive and a reasonable investment - escpecially since it became a fact that some episodes of the US Box are cut. But that's a general problem of "Flying Circus" because modification were being made and footage was being removed from some episodes after the first run. This concern not only dialogs but also entire sketches. Unfortunately the German DVD Box isn't fully uncut either but some episodes are longer than their US equivalent.
This comparison is about Episode 31 (Season 3, Episode 5): The All-England Summarise Proust Competition
* The German Version is labeled "uncut" but it's actually not. In fact it's just the longest version available on DVD. Here's what's still missing: according to several sources, the "Travel Agent" sketch originally contained the comment "What a silly bunt!". Fun fact: Eric Idle wasn't permitted to use the letter C in that sketch. As a result of that, the letter C got replaced by the letter B. The reason for the removal ought to be pretty obvious.
Update, November 2019
Meanwhile a Blu-ray has been released in Great Britain and several episodes are now available in their uncut form for the first time and therefore in an extended form, even compared to the Sony DVDs. For the present episode "reinstated content" was also promised, but this only contains the masturbation reference, which you already know from the Sony DVDs. Paul Vanezis, who was involved in the production, has expressed in the Blu-ray.com forum why the "silly bunt" passage is unfortunately missing here as well:
- US Version: 30:31 min
- German DVD: 30:40 min
- 1 cut
- Length: 4 sec
Note: The additional difference of sec consists of a longer black screen at the beginning and end of the German Version.
"The All-England Summarise Proust Competition"
After host Arthur Mee (Terry Jones) asks the first candidate Harry Bagot (Graham Chapman) for his hobbies, the end of his answer is missing. In the US Version, he says "Well, it's strangling animals, golf" - rough cut, distance shot of Arthur pushing from off the stage.
On the German DVD, the scene is uncensored: "Well, it's stangling animals, golf and masturbating." Arthur (Terry) laughs and replies "Oh, well, thank you, Harry Bagot". Then he grabs Harry's (Graham's) arm in the following shot.
Even though "strangling animals" is not a very nice expression, the following reference "He must have let himself down a bit on the hobbies - golf is not very popular around here" lacks punch in the US Version.
German DVD Box from Sony:
As far as I know, the episodes that are compared are here on out site (Episode 31 and Episode 38) are the episodes with the most differences and the US Versions are cut for sure. Due to the insignificance of the modifications or the fact that both versions are cut, please find the differences just listed here.
The US DVDs and the German DVDs both lack the following:
Episode 19 (Season 2, Episode 6): School Prices
22:25 - In the "Prince and the black spot" animation, the Prince's cause of death has been softened: in the Original Version he dies of cancer but the audio track of the US and German DVDs contain an added "gangrene" here. The entire story gets narrated by a woman but it's a deep male voice that says "gangrene" (at least that's as grotesque as one could expect from the Pythons). And now it's getting absurd: the uncensored version of the sketch has been used for the motion picture "And Now For Something Completely Different" (1971), for which the best of the sketches from "Flying Circus" were reshot / reanimated by Gilliam. Even today one can hear the word "cancer" here!
Episode 24 (Season 2, Episode 11): How not to be seen
01:57 - A short scene of the "Conquistador Coffee sketch" about the taboo subject leprosy and cancer is missing.
22:00 - The most famous cut in this episode is the missing "Satan Animation" which contains Jesus on the cross and Satan talking with a Jewish accent.
Similar to Episode 19, these cuts have been made to all available DVD versions. It seems as if the footage was only in the first run before it had been censored by the BBC. Fortunately an employee of an US channel accidentally discovered an uncensored 16mm copy in the archives and made a comparison with the uncensored original version. The calculation of the length of both cuts is based on the explanations in that comparison.
detailed comparison including screens
Only missing in the US Version:
Episode 33 (Season 3, Episode 7): Salad Days
01:09 - The US Version lacks 3 more seconds of trivial footage - presumably a problem with the original material.
Right at the beginning of the "Biggles dictates a letter"sketch, there's a jumpcut after the secretary's first comment in which she calls Biggles "Senor". Biggles' words "I'm not a Spanish person! You must call me Mr. Bigg..." are missing here. It looks pretty crappy in the US Version, escpecially since the last letters of his name are still audible, but I figure it's just a problem with the original material because Biggles is going to get called "Senor" several times and he emphasizes he wasn't Spanish all the time. So it's really unlikely that we're talking about censorship or an intentional modification here.
Source of the information about the cuts of the US DVDs (at the bottom, "CUTS")