Compared are the "Director's Cut" on the US Blu-ray by Criterion and the 4K Restoration from 2017 on the UK Blu-ray by BFI
- 11 differences
- Length difference: 286.5 sec (= 4:47 min)
Background Story Regarding the Versions of The Wages of Fear up to the 4K Restoration in 2017
No doubt, Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1953) is one of the classics. By the standards of the time, the adventurous story is surprisingly ruthless and even nowadays, it works perfectly. Unfortuntately, there was only a heavily censored version available in the US for a long time. In said version, especially "anti-American" scenes are cut but the very little nudity, for instance, is missing as well. In the 90s, the (alleged) Original Version had a revival and was the common version in the US ever since resp. this was the version available for home theaters. Keeping that in mind, this explains why the Criterion Blu-ray from 2009 is often refered to as Director's Cut.
As already implied with "state of knowledge at the time" and "alleged": With the UK Blu-ray from 2017, a highly superior release of The Wages of Fear is available now. Thanks to a new 4K restoration, the picture quality is much better. Surprisingly enough, this version is also longer than most of the other digital releases - at least longer those in the US, UK and Germany. Before that, the duration was 141 minutes (PAL) resp. 147 minutes (NTSC/Blu-ray). With a duration of almost 152 minutes, the new restoration is a little longer. Even though the following was not available for this comparison, the duration of the old French DVD DVD (2001) by René Château appears to be the same. Odds are this version has been available in its homeland for quite some time now and the actual Director's Cut has finally found its way to English-speaking countries - thanks to the new restoration.
Additional Scenes on the UK Blu-ray by BFI
For starters, there are two additional scenes in the first act. Both are interesting regarding the further course of events. First of all, Luigi provokes Mario longer and it becomes clear that he is getting worse healthwise. Shortly afterwards, Mario's lover Linda overhears the risks of the mission and is anxious to stop him. In that context, it is quite interesting that both matches perfectly with the subsequent scenes - also because of smooth transitions or two shots blending into each other. It now makes much more sense why Luigi is being examined in the first place and also why Linda is so worried about Mario.
Except for those, any other additional scene is in the finale. Jo gets to suffer more and treat his wounds via close-ups. It is still undetermined whether scenes were censored here back in the day. Also, Mario treats Jo really rough and he demands the promised support in a rather sadistic way. But since Mario gets out of the truck and talks to Jo longer when they are on the road, his character also appears more torn. A nice little addition at the end is the close-up of Mario's check for which he has been waiting for for so long.
All in all, the new UK Blu-ray is highly recommendable for any fan or movie buffs. The new footage, which most people have not seen before, adds some very nice nuances to that classic but most convincing is still the enhanced picture quality and the lovely release itself. In addition to the featurettes from the Criterion release, there is a booklet worth reading, a new interview and a quite interesting audio commentary. The only flaw (if you will), especially for purchasers from the US: The UK Blu-ray is region B only and therefore requires a codefree player for some.
Time index refers to
US Blu-ray by Criterion / UK Blu-ray by BFI
Different logos at the beginning.
UK Blu-ray 2.9 sec longer
02:18-02:19 / 02:21-02:22
Subsequent to the opening credits, the very first shot of the cockroaches on the ground starts a little earlier on the UK BD. The US BD, however, contains a longer black instead.
There are similar alterations later on (e.g. in the 36th, 64th and 84th minute) but this will not be mentioned in detail in the remaining comparison and it will not considered a length difference either.
06:32 / 06:34-06:36
Additional shot of the guy on the horse before Mario walks up to Linda.
13:56-14:05 / 14:00
Weird: The Criterion is longer when Mario and Jo say hi. This appears to be a screw-up on the Criterion release though because the fact of the matter is: The two shots from right before are simply being looped here.
+ 9.2 sec
43:39 / 43:32-44:12
Before Luigi gets examined, he walks past Mario and he makes a snarky comment while doing so. At the end, he coughs and the doc shows up. The transition from this shot to the following scene with Luigi being examined is also in the old version. The additional scene here explains why he has a doctor's appointment in the first place.
Luigi: "I'd rather die right away than work! Swap with me Mario? Your truck for my wheelbarrow! It's a good job! Good for your health!"
He laughed when he made that comment but he also started coughing.
The doc stops right next to him and says: "I say, that sounds nasty."
Luigi: "It's nothing, it's because I'm laughing."
Doc: "It sounds bad to me. Come and see me later.
Luigi: "I don't need you, it'll go by itself."
Doc: "We can watch it go together. Come at siesta time."
Please note: If not stated otherwise, the dialogs are in French. The here listed dialogs are from the English subtitle track on the UK Blu-ray.
46:36-46:37 / 47:09-47:51
The old version contains a transition from Bill O'Brien to the subsequent shot resp. the shot pops up on the right and one gets to see the recruits drive off.
There is no transition on the UK Blu-ray because there is an additional scene instead: Linda overhears a conversation according to which the job could be considered a suicide mission. She is shocked to hear that and leaves in order to search for Mario. At the end, Linda walks in the direction of the recruits by the car - that shot starts earlier as well. Bill starts talking to her in English.
Hernandez: "How's it going?"
Guy #1: "Who'd have thought there'd be so many candidates for suicide. They won't be driving trucks but coffins on wheels."
Hernandez: "They have a hope!"
Guy #2: "None will return alive."
Linda accidentally drops her pearl necklace, then she walks away.
While walking by Hernandez, he says: "Linda! What bit her?"
A boy with magazines shows up: "Give me one."
Bill then speaks to the recruits: "Everybody here? All right, boys, we've wasted enough time. Let's get going."
UK Blu-ray 40.7 sec longer
132:48 / 133:57-135:44
Before Mario starts attaching the bar, there is a shot of him going back to the truck. He checks whether the sunlight has already heatened up the canisters too much while Jo keeps stuttering in the background. Mario can't resist yanking his chain a little.
Mario: "Shut up!"
Jo: "I have a fever."
Mario: "So does the truck, the metal's red hot. Remember what O'Brien said? At 80 degrees, it all vaporises."
Jo: "If I tell you how to get the truck out, you'll help me right away?"
Mario: "When the truck's in the shade."
Jo: "You bastard! Do it by yourself!"
Mario: "Don't fool around! You can be useful for once. You know a way? I'll kick you in the ribs!"
And so he does right away. Jo puts him off with his arms: "I won't feel it, I hurt too bad!"
Mario: "Will you speak to me! Tell me, what's your trick?"
Jo: "I'm thirsty."
Mario holds some water right in front of his face but always too far away for Jo to reach it: "Tell me, you'll get a drink. Tell me! I'd talk if I were you. What's your trick?"
Jo gives up: "Just so you'll leave me in peace! You just have to fix 2 crowbars in the axle... Right in the axle."
106.7 sec (= 1:47 min)
134:23 / 137:19-137:45
Close-up of Jo cutting the part of his pants where he is heavily wounded. The subsequent shot of him starts much earlier as well. All in all, his attempt to get back on his feet is much longer here.
134:34 / 137:56-138:03
Two more shots before Mario drives off.
135:56-135:58 / 139:25-139:51
The old version contains a transition to the scene on the street when the truck is being driven out.
The UK Blu-ray also shows how the truck stops and how Mario gets out. Cut to whiney Jo, followed by a shot of the tires. And now there is a transtition here as well.
UK Blu-ray 24.8 sec longer
138:25 / 142:18-142:49
Subsequent to the footage of the guy on the street, some dialog during the ride is missing. The path they are taking is still the issue, Joe starts losing consciousness.
Mario: "After the fence..."
Jo: "The hotel."
Mario: "No, the hardware store first."
Jo: "Yes, you're right."
Mario: "So, we were saying... The tobacco shop... The fence..."
Jo: "The fence... The hotel..."
Mario corrects him one more time: "No, Jo, the hardware shop first!"
Jo: "Yes, that's right. I'm trying to think... It's all confused."
144:31 / 148:55-149:03
Before the check is being handed over, there is a transition from Mario lying on the ground to a close-up of the mentioned check being filled out. The subsequent shot starts a little earlier as well.