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The Little Drummer Girl

01 Episode 1


  • Original version
  • Director's Cut
Release: Jan 27, 2023 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the original version (as 6-parter e.g. included on the German DVD from Universal / BBC / Amazon) and the Director's Cut (exclusively included in Korea as Blu-ray-/4K-UHD).

- 104 differences, incl. 5 audio changes, 41x alternative material
- Difference: 438.4 sec (= 7:18 min)

Original version: 55:58 (55:23) min // Director's Cut: 63:16 (60:42) min

Park Chan-wook's THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL in three different versions

South Korean director Park Chan-wook is, of course, best known for his films like Oldboy (and the other two parts of his Vengeance trilogy) and The Handmaiden. He describes John le Carré's The Little Drummer Girl as one of his favorite novels, and in 2016 The Night Manager, also based on an original novel by John le Carré, ran quite successfully. When Park Chan-wook heard that an adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl was also planned, he jumped at the chance and took over the directing duties for all 6 episodes. As expected, the British-American co-production from the BBC and AMC is a visually appealing and fairly routinely executed spy drama, with Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon shining in the lead roles.

At the end of 2018, the episodes ran on British and American TV, followed by the identical release in Germany the following year. An interesting side note was that in the following years, for example, HBO Max and Apple TV also showed the series, but here it was divided into 8 episodes with ~ 45 minutes each compared to the original 60-minute 6-parter. These versions were also available to us, and in fact you can discover small differences here. But they only affect the scenes where the episodes end in the 6-part as well as the 8-part version. For a better exit/entry you can find exclusive alternative material here.

Things got considerably more exciting on December 16, 2022 in Korea, however, as Plain Archive released the worldwide UHD premiere of the series, promising a "Director's Cut" in the process. There was a 4K Steelbook, a Blu-ray Steelbook, and a Collector's Premium Box with both media plus other goodies - all editions are sold out by now. We were able to get the 4K edition and indeed: all 6 episodes are available here in extensively re-edited versions.


Episode 1: Differences in the Director's Cut of THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL

The present comparison deals with Episode 1, which runs an eye-catching 7 minutes longer. For all episodes, however, the pure running time comparison is useless, because quite a few scenes have also been removed from the original TV version, so the actual differences are much greater. There are well over 15 minutes exclusive to the Director's Cut (= DC), as well as changes on the soundtrack and various re-cuts and even digital retouches.

Especially noticeable right away is that the original version came along much more conventional in its structure. The DC now starts abruptly with the bomb making, only later this is explained further. Florence Pugh's character is only introduced in the billiard club instead of in a montage, which directly creates a different dramaturgical reference with her comments from the interview. This stylistic device of explaining plot elements in more detail through montage and off-camera commentary was generally much reduced in the DC.

Basically a sub-heading of this, but worth a single mention: the flirtations of Pugh's character. Both fellow actor colleague Al (Max Irons) and especially Becker, played by Alexander Skarsgård, tend to flirt with her in rather typical fashion in the original version. The DC removes little teasing comments here and there or, through alternate takes on Skarsgård's first appearance, focuses more on portraying him as a mysterious character instead of a love interest.

At this point, one can still mention in regards to exclusive material of the original version that besides such plainly reduced or recut moments, some sentences were also deleted from the soundtrack or overdubbed. The various text overlays (date/time) have all been reworked as well. It's hard to pinpoint what the intention was in each case. That's probably how it can be summarized for some of the alternate takes, because, as with Aquarius, for example, it's sometimes hard for normal viewers to understand what exactly was more important to the director and editor by choosing/replacing certain shots.

The actual additional material, which causes the longer running time, is then also distributed predominantly on many small extensions. You can't always break it down concretely to individual changes, but in fact the DC as a whole feels like a much more fulfilling take on the story. Fans of the director will certainly prefer the slightly bulkier style in the end. Let's hope that the exclusive versions will still be released outside of Korea at some point.

Running time details are arranged according to the scheme
Original version / Director's Cut

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Introductory disclaimer: We used tone mapping for a HDR->SDR conversion he screenshots of the 4K versions. This means that the image visible on the TV is not reproduced 1:1. The blue/green tint seems a bit stronger in the report than it actually is with reasonable 4K equipment.

00:00 / 00:00-01:10

The very first scene is quasi new: In the original version can only be seen in a shortened form at 13:27-15:13 / 17:12-19:00, as a montage with a narration by Kurtz. Here, the assassin quietly works on the bomb. In between, a fade-in indicates that we are in Bonn. Finally, above the shot of the bomb placed on the floor in the room, you can read "1979" and immediately afterwards the more familiar original version begins.

70.5 sec (= 1:10 min)

15 seconds later, the reference to West Berlin is missing in the director's cut.

Original versionDirector's Cut

01:08 / 02:18-02:31

Michel gets into the car and drives away. After that, we see the woman walking around for the first time. The original version only starts with the close-up in which she looks at her wristwatch.

12.6 sec

01:18 / 02:41-03:05

The woman walks longer to the car and gets in. Afterwards, the Israeli family is seen earlier in the house. The boy (Gabriel) wants to stay at home another day but the mother is skeptical. The father makes a coughing gesture in the background, whereupon Gabriel also pretends to cough. The mother goes to the stairs.

24.2 sec

15 seconds later, the reference to Bad Godesberg was revised and split in two for the director's cut.
Note: This insert is interestingly missing in the 8-part version, more on this in a separate cut report.

Original versionDirector's Cut

01:56 / 03:43-03:48

The shot starts a little earlier: The woman, who is working with the assassins, kneels down and works on the suitcase. Then she stands up.

5.4 sec

02:10 / 04:03

The close-up of the alarm clock jumping from 8:19 to 8:20 starts a few frames earlier.

0.4 sec

02:12-02:13 / 04:05-04:20

The Original version briefly shows the assassin standing outside the door, who is just taking off her jacket.

The Director's Cut instead has a first shot inside when she knocks on the door. Aaron goes to the door a first time, taking his gun with him. When he sees the woman, he asks for a moment's patience, puts the gun back and reaches for his jacket instead.

Director's Cut 13.8 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

02:21 / 04:28-04:38

A frontal shot of the assassin at the door. Then the Israeli diplomat walks up the stairs earlier in the house.

10.3 sec

02:27-02:29 / 04:44

The shot of the nursery starts a bit earlier in the original version. The boy throws the ball. The DC only starts when Aaron passes by in the background.

+ 1.8 sec

02:31 / 04:46-04:47

In return, the same shot is a moment longer in the DC.

0.7 sec

02:35 / 04:51-04:54

Part of the dialog ("Three days?" heard in German) was superimposed on the close-up of the speedometer in the car in the original version. In the DC it can now be seen onscreen at the end of the shot.

3.2 sec

02:43-02:47 / 05:02-05:07

The Original version shows the woman in the car a moment longer and then two shots of the diplomat turning to the nursery in the house.

In the Director's Cut you see three other shots of Aaron instead.

Director's Cut 0.8 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

03:01-05:17 / 05:21-06:03

After the explosion the Original version changes to the opening credits (for each episode 61.5 sec). After that, as an introduction of Charlie's character, we see her telling her story in front of cameras. The Director's Cut shows this narrative part of her much later (see 20:19 / 23:28) in somewhat more detail and partly with alternate footage - see notes there. A first view of Charlie at the pool table also remains exclusive to the original version.

In the Director's Cut the scene in the billiard club starts immediately instead, with no introduction/off-camera commentary from Charlie, but instead some exclusive footage. It winds back from the clock and a text note points out that we are in Notting Hill.
Charlie hits a shot and says, "And that, Al, is how you play pool."
Al corrects, "Snooker. That was a bloody fluke."
Some more dialogue between Charlie and her friend follows, with her further provoking Al and giggling as she goes for the next shot. Meanwhile, off-camera, the brawl can already be heard and Charlie looks in that direction.

Original version 94,7 sec (= 1:35 min) länger

05:20-06:13 / 06:06-06:55

For a moment you saw identically how the boy was pushed in.

In the Original version it's then constantly alternated between Charlie in the room, who tells how she attacked the men and that a certain Johnny would have fallen in love with her in the process. The whole scene is told here very quickly and is dramaturgically clearly arranged by her off-comments. She would have felt really vital during her little freak-out and then passionately made out with Johnny.

In the Director's Cut instead, Charlie gives the man a much more detailed lecture that the word "poof" is not okay and that he should apologize to Paulie. It is also played out more clearly here that Paulie has thrown up over the pool table - according to the additionally heard statement of the angry man even for the third time - and his homosexuality would not have been an issue at all. The man now demands an apology from Charlie, which she complies with. Interestingly, the affection for Al plays no role at all in this longer shown original scene.

Original version 3.9 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

Immediately afterwards, there is again a revised location text. At this point it should be emphasized again that the text in the original version always looks like it was typed on a typewriter. In the director's cut, it is faded in and out, but completely legible.

Original versionDirector's Cut

06:31-06:36 / 07:13

The shot from above and the first one inside are a bit longer in the original version. The dialogue that can already be heard off-screen was shifted a bit in the DC.

+ 4.6 sec

Half a minute later, the overlay indicating the anti-terrorist unit is missing from the DC.

Original versionDirector's Cut

07:05 / 07:42-07:51

Dr. Alexis mentions, still hesitant: "I've prepared two offices for you. This one and the one next door."
Kurtz replies: "That's very generous. Yes."

9.1 sec

07:15-07:16 / 08:01-08:17

In the Director's Cut Kurtz inquires further whether anything unusual has been noticed. Dr. Alexis waves it off and asks in return where the evidence is kept.

In the Original version the subsequent shot begins a moment earlier and Kurtz comments here: "Good."

Director's Cut 15.4 sec longer

07:35 / 08:36-08:38

The scene in the meeting room begins a moment earlier.

1.5 sec

07:55-07:59 / 08:58-10:01

The interrogation of Aaron begins in the Original version only with a few short close-ups.

In the Director's Cut Kurtz first sits down calmly at the table and speaks reassuringly to Aaron. He would speak to him here from brother to brother. Aaron says that it would be his fault. Kurtz urges to give details.

Director's Cut 59.1 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

08:18 / 10:20-10:21

A shot of Kurt starts a moment earlier.

1 sec

08:22-08:24 / 10:25-10:28

The cut to the diplomat is alternative.

Director's Cut 1.2 sec longer

08:34 / 10:38-10:40

Before showing the woman at the door, you can see the shot of the interrogation insignificantly longer. The woman's sentence has been shifted slightly on the soundtrack.

1.6 sec

08:36-08:44 / 10:42-10:58

The encounter at the door is mounted a bit differently in the Director's Cut and features additional dialogue where Aaron presses around a bit.

Director's Cut 8.4 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

09:05-09:09 / 11:19-11:24

The original version stays within the shot of Aaron leaning down to the case. The DC briefly switches to the interrogation.

Here, the off-screen dialogue diverges. In the original version, Kurtz asks about the color of the woman's hair. In the DC, he instead addresses a parallel to the au pair girl.

Director's Cut 0.6 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

Kurz danach weicht auf der Tonspur ein Satz ab: Nun wird auch (nur) in der Original version das Au-Pair-Mädchen erwähnt.

09:18-09:20 / 11:33-11:56

The original version briefly switches to another perspective of the room with the suitcase in the frame. In the director's cut, the camera moves back much longer and Aaron is seen a bit earlier on the bed.

Director's Cut 20.3 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

09:26-09:28 / 12:02-12:04

Aaron slaps his hands in front of his head in an alternate take.

Director's Cut 0.6 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

Digital change
09:43-09:51 / 12:19-12:27

Weird: In what is actually the same shot, some parts of it have been digitally altered. While the original version shows a photo, the DC version shows a file.

No runtime difference

Original versionDirector's Cut

09:51-09:59 / 12:27-12:35

The original version has two more close-ups of interrogation and then Michel in the car. The DC instead offers only a longer version of the shot of Michel.

No runtime difference

Original versionDirector's Cut

Audio change
10:15 / 12:51

A part of the sentence has been removed from the audio track for the DC: "(She looked back at me) over her shoulders."

Image for orientation

10:28-10:34 / 13:04-13:10

When Aaron is quizzed about the driver, there is a very different shot to be seen.

Original version 0.3 sec longer

Original versionDirector's Cut

Immediately afterwards, comments on the soundtrack were shifted a bit.
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