Sometimes you just want another dash of “Salt” – or two.
That’s what director Phillip Noyce is hoping fans of the espionage thriller – starring Angelina Jolie as an outed sleeper spy on the run – have a taste for: the film made its debut on home video with no less than three different alternate versions to choose from.
Noyce tells PopcornBiz he loves having the opportunity to explore different variations of his films through, in the case of “Salt,” a Director’s Cut and an Extended Director’s Cut. “As a filmmaker it's great,” he says, “because you agonize for months and months in postproduction over all the choices that you're presented with, and in this film even more choices than usual because it’s structured around flashbacks. As soon as you have a flashback structure partly informing your storytelling there's an infinite number of options.”
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Noyce said that editing “Salt’s” action-packed footage to meet a PG-13 rating, he found himself wishing he’d had the option to include some personal favorite moments he’d been compelled to clip away.
“Just as I was getting to that point where I was feeling regretful, in walks someone from Sony Home Entertainment Division saying, 'Hey, have you got any alternative versions that you really love?'” says Noyce. “Suddenly the genie was let out of the bottle, because I didn't have to abandon my beloved ideas. Actually, I was encouraged to work on them, to bring in another editor and actually finish it. When I told them the alternatives that I had, they said 'Great – Maybe you don't even want to settle for just a director's cut. Do you want to have another cut as well?' I said, 'Sure I do! I'd like to try that other ending that we had!’”
“I no longer needed to miss anything, because the Blu-Ray triple-header gave me a chance to have no regrets,” says Noyce. “And for the audience to see an insight into versions that might've been left behind, for the better or for the worse, and to be able to take part in the huge storytelling decisions that a director and his or her team have to make.”
The filmmaker finds something specific to love in each of the three versions of the film appearing on “Salt’s” Deluxe Unrated Edition:
--The Theatrical Version: “This was the version that we finally settled on. It has a streamlined ending that's wide open and leaves room, perhaps, for a sequel. That was the version that with a lot of discussion, trial and error and thought we decided to release theatrically.”
--The Director’s Cut: “This is my favorite, because there's no censorship cuts that we had to make in order to get a PG-13 rating. So the action scenes are not trimmed, and there's a central scene in the movie where Evelyn Salt loses someone that's close to her, but in the theatrical version that is over in a couple of seconds. In this version the audience is confronted by the loss of this person that's close to Evelyn Salt. That was more harrowing for the audience – maybe not to everyone's taste, but it allowed the audience to experience the event that probably changed the course of her life. The audience was placed in an excruciating position in having to feel that loss along with her, as opposed to imagining the feeling of loss.”
--The Extended Director’s Cut: “I love the third ending: Evelyn Salt finally emotes. She's been a woman who we've seen is closed emotionally because that's been her training. But finally she opens her heart and we feel her heartbeat as she expresses regrets for her actions – or lack of action. It's something that I felt I missed in both other versions.”
You’d think Noyce’s willingness to create three variations of his film may demonstrate an insatiable craving for more “Salt,” but he admits that even if Jolie were to return for a second mission, he probably won’t be along to guide her.
“There may be another 'Salt,’ but I think that one was enough for me,” he says. “I've made a number of films about spies now, and I really almost felt like I was going over ground that I'd already traveled in making this one. So I think if there is another 'Salt' story I'd let another director take over."