Recently Movieweb was invited to an exclusive screening of The Outsiders - The Complete Novel courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Video. The intimate setting where the screening was held provided the perfect place to view a film I have seen probably 30 times, in addition to reading the book on which it is based about 15.
Watching this new version of the movie was an almost surreal experience. The last time I had screened it in a theater-type setting was 1983. Over the years I have enjoyed it both on VHS and DVD, so I am quite used to how it plays. Seeing it with an almost 10 minute new beginning, mixed with a new soundtrack (featuring songs by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Van Morrison), added scenes and a much longer ending, I have to admit that The Outsiders - The Complete Novel is really a new film. Easily gliding between both new and old footage, this movie is truly a much fuller version of Coppola’s vision as well as more true to SE Hinton’s groundbreaking book. While I have to admit that I liked the original score that Carmine Coppola put together, this new soundtrack gives The Outsiders - The Complete Novel a much different feel. Thus, people who own the original Outsiders DVD will be happy to know that both versions can peacefully exist side by side in their collections.
The added scenes really flesh out the characters performances. The relationship between the Curtis Bros. is given a lot more depth. We get to see more of their home lives and interactions. As a result of this, the scenes that we are used to seeing from the original version have an added dimension now. Ralph Macchio’s performance as Johnny Cade is bolstered as well. It’s interesting because had this new version been the original film that people got to see, I think that he certainly would have had more heat coming off this movie. His portrayal of a gentle greaser is so nuanced and rich, that I think that fans of the movie will really appreciate being able to have his role illuminated. There are a bevy of extra scenes which were cut from the original version, and everything about their inclusion in The Outsiders - The Complete Novel feels seamless. Being familiar with the book was certainly a bonus, but it isn’t required to appreciate this new rendering of the film. In fact, standing on it’s own, I think this new version will continue to find it’s place with a whole new generation of fans.
I really admire Francis Ford Coppola for going back and making this film exactly the way he wanted it to be. Personally, I am not a fan of director’s tweaking their work after it is released to the world. Yet with these new scenes, The Outsiders - The Complete Novel, is really it’s own entity. It is amazing that Coppola had the vision to take what is essentially a small (but universal) story and bring to it the scope and vision that he is known for. This tale of teenage youths just trying to make it an unfair world, is superbly told without ever being over sentimental or pitying. It just tells a simple story and it is because of this that so many people have gravitated to it over the years, and why they continue to gravitate to it now.
Stayed tuned for our full review soon.
The Outsiders - The Complete Novel comes to DVD on September 20.
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