HEAVEN AND EARTH Theatrical/Uncut Edit List

This is not the first time that this blog has had material related to the film HEAVEN AND EARTH (1990) on it. For a more traditional review of the film, please follow the link here:


This article is of differences in edits. Indeed, HEAVEN AND EARTH has an extended "uncut" version released in Japan on home video, seemingly only been released in Japan. The uncut version of the film is 21 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, but both versions of the film contain shots and extensions of scenes unique to themselves, hence more variance. It is such that it can be compared to the different cuts of Ridley Scott’s LEGEND. 

This is a list of the differences in the two cuts of the films. 


Unique to the Theatrical Cut
Though possibly only in the version on American home video, there is a small prologue which sets up the time and location of the film - like this being 16th century Japan and that the two war lords is Kagetora and Takeda. 

Use of Different Angles
During the village raid coinciding with the beginning narration, different angles are used for the cavalcade of horse-laden samurai coming down a hill. 

Unique to the Director's Cut
When Kageora has a letter of praise read to him in front of his peers, the directors cut extends the scene considerably. We see the ceramony revolving the opening of the letter being a lot more formal and complicated. Added shots make the scene more formal. Unlike the theatrical cut, we have a documentarian shot panning down the middle column of fellow samurai, titling names and positions of those in attendance. Most important is also the expression that instead of paying all of his attention to the opening of the letter, Kagetora is looking at a stone idol of the god he has dedicated himself to - Bishamonten.

Unique to the Theatrical Cut
The letter scene ends in the theatrical cut with Kagetora saying thanks for the letter. Where as the directors cut skips ahead to a deer hunting scene, the theatrical cut keeps to a scene of Usami - one of Kagetora's most trusted men - talking to Kagetora during twilight next to his castle in Echigo. Kagetora ponders on his right to be a ruler when it meant the slaying of his brother. Usami reassures him. 

Unique to Theatrical Cut
The deer hunting scene which leads to Kagetora meeting Nami for the first time is extended a bit with shots of Kagetora drinking from a stream, expressively getting off his horse, and the deer he was hunting looking back at him. 

Unique to Director's Cut
While Kagetora watches Nami and other priestesses play the flute and bells, a shot of an elegant waterfall is inserted, causing not only an extension of the scene but also an extension of the music being played. 

After this scene, the differences between the two cuts get more drastic. The theatrical cut goes onto play a scene (which would come up latter in the director's cut) of Takeda, his lover Lady Yae, and other soldiers looking at a mountain range which marks the final barrier before extending Takeda's dominance to Echigo and questioning Kagetora's war title, "the Tiger of Echigo". The directors cut goes into a scene which would be played latter in the theatrical cut of Takeda being shown a bunch of rifles which, due to Kagetora's dislike for them, will give him an advantage in future battles. Again, there is stipulation over the "Tiger of Echigo" moniker.

Both the theatrical and directors cuts synchronize back together with the next meeting of Usami with Kagetora in a house. In the scene, halfway through we see Nami and we have the first dialogue the two characters say to each other in the film. Dialogue is the same and takes up the same amount of time, yet the shot choices are different. The theatrical cut adds in shots of Kaegora looking at Nami pouring a beverage where the directors cut keeps the camera and shots more stagnant (the Kurosawa influence bleeding in) on Nami. The directors cut goes onto show the scene of Takeda, Lady Yae, and some men looking over the mountains and talking of Echigo. 

Unique to the theatrical cut
The scene is extended with Kagetora and Nami looking out at the rain, with Kagetora asking Nami if everyone’s destiny is pre-determined. It’s after this that the theatrical cut shows the scene of Takeda looking at the guns his soldiers are going to use. 

Afterward, both cuts resynchronize to a scene of Kagetora - now with mustache - checking out rifles that his men will use.

Unique to the Directors Cut
The dialogue about rumors of a traitor to Kagetora is extended on a bit in one take, keeping all in the frame scenic a la Kurosawa. After added dialogue, shot progression goes back to being the same as the theatrical shot. 

Different Shot Progressions over same audio
The scene where Nami plays her flute for Kagetora and gives him a book on battle strategies is different only in what can be more scenic - a more intimate view of the romantic sub-plot or a more distant view. The theatrical favors the more intimate view where as the director’s cut chooses the distant path. 

Unique to the Director’s Cut
Durring this scene, Nami questions as to why Kagetora hasn’t married yet. Kagetora watching Nami walk away in the cherry blossom filled breeze is the same, but afterward, the directors cut has an added short scene of Kagetora riding his horse during a full moon in a cherry blossom field - thinking of Nami (this scene can be viewed in Tetsuya Komuro’s music video for Heaven and Earth). 

Unique to the Theatrical Version
Instead of a wide establishing shot as shown in the directors cut, the theatrical cut has a shot of samurai blowing horns, signaling battle. Additionally in the theatrical cut, the battle is extended a bit before the traitor that Kagetora is weeding out decides to use balls of fire as a weapon. Theatrical cut has more shots of the fireball offensive. There is also more close ups of Kagetora when his envoy is speaking to the traitor of the possible death of his son and wife (right before they are killed).

Different Shot Progression
Kagetora praying and meditating after having killed a wife and her child plays out the opposite way in the directors cut. Same shots, different order. 

Unique to the Directors Cut
Along with a longer shot of Takeda’s men going to Usami, making Usami a traitor, the convos the two have is extended at the beginning. 

Both cuts synchronize to a shot o Takeda talking alone with Lady Yae of establishing a possible naval force. A purple sky shot from a lot earlier on in the theatrical cut is move to after this in the director’s cut. 

Unique to the Theatrical Cut
Durring the initial set up for the first real battle between Kagetora and Takeda’s forces, we see Usami talking to Kagetora before we have the shot of Kagetora and his generals looking over the cliff to see the plain filled with Takeda’s men. Director’s cut simply has an extended version of the cliff shot. 

Unique to the directors cut
With the initial attack (which includes Kagetora establishing bridges to help men enter the plane), the battle starts sooner and individual shots last longer than their counterparts in the Theatrical cut. This includes an extended cut of Takeda asking his men who is Echigo’s best warrior. Theatrical cut has extra shot of Kagetora watching the Battle. The celebratory dance by Kakizaki (the best warrior of the battle) is longer and is of alternate shots in the directors cut.

Unique to Theatrical Cut
We have a scene where Kagetora talks to his men before having to gun down Lady Yae. Tetsuya Komuro’s melody for heaven and earth can be seen being played by a soldier playing the flute at the beginning of the shot. 

Unique to the Director’s Cut
When the frame rates for the shots start speeding up to give the scene momentum via slow motion, the director’s cut inserts an image of an enraged Takeda, having learned his mistress is acting on her own accord. Not a necessarily good choice. Shot progression of actual shooting differs from Theatrical cut. 

The next three scenes are of Takeda’s retreat after Yae’s shooting, talk of Usami being a traitor to Kagetora, and Nami talking to her father Usami of his betrayal. It is that order in the theatrical cut, while in the directors cut, it is first talk of Usami being a traitor, then Takeda’s forces retreating and then Nami talking to her father.

Unique to the Director’s Cut
Nami feints after talking to her father about his treachery to Kagetora

Unique to Theatrical Cut
There is an extra shot of Kagetora looking at the sun rise before he writes a letter to Usami, telling him of the learned treachery and of the duel to be had as judgment. 

The battle between Usami and Kagetora is the same dynamic as the scene where Nami gives Kagetora battle strategy books. 

Unique to Director’s Cut:
More shots of grass waving in the wind and of Kagetora demanding entrance to see Nami once she learns that he killed her father. 

In the smoke signal scene, the directors cut has a simple wide shot of the Takeda base raising a smoke signal with horses riding towards the camera. The theatrical cut plays it more complex, with the camera zoomed in on the pale of smoke, only to go onto a wide shot of a mountain range showing the use of smoke signal. 

Unique to the Directors Cut
Takeda’s forces dispatch to the Kawanakajima plain, yet have to maneuver through some foggy mountains. In the Directors Cut, we see Kagetora’s men move in front of them. The foggy Saigo Mountain scene has additional scene in the directors cut of Takeda’s point of view of things, moving Kaegtora footage back a bit. This also includes interesting CG soldiers walking across a map of the area, showing where Takeda was taking his men. Takeda’s discussion of strategy after this is extended in some places in the director’s cut, followed by more CG map footage. 

Unique to Director’s Cut
News of Nami’s death to Kageotra is drawn out a bit longer in the theatrical cut. 

Now, for the rest of the film, there is only the main battle for the Kawanakajima plain. 

Unique to Theatrical Cut
Shots of spears held to the sky climbing up the hill with chanting is extended, along with added shots of a pleased Kagetora added in. 

Unique in Directors Cut
Individual shots of the battle are longer in the directors cut. Alternate close ups are also utilized along with new shots showing Takeda’s use of rifles. By the time Kagetora and Takeda meet, the two cuts have two different battles (both on horseback, fighting on the stream still). 

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