I've been a longtime fan of this film, and as early as 1994 when I lived in London rumors were circulating about an extended version of the film. Imagine my excitement when the DVD was released with both version of CP: the original theatrical release and the one with the added footage. However, after viewing the longer incarnation of CP, I'm afraid to report that the added bits softens, and in some cases deadens, what was so originally powerful about CP in the first place: the sense of unrequited or unexplained loss of love.
This new version sets out to explain much that in the original incarnation of the film was left tantalizingly unanswered. For example, Alfredo's sardonic speech about the guard falling in love with the princess ended with Alfredo saying he had no idea what the story meant. Left without a moral, the tale is potent precisely because its moral is uncertain. In this newer version, we see Toto having an epiphany and boldly declares the story's meaning. Suddenly, the piquant ambiguity of Alfredo's tale vanishes--as does much of the film's. We see Toto lose his virginity, and certain familiar conversations are expanded many, many minutes. Too many minutes, sometime.
Exposition and explanations are really the only new additions to this picture. Most important, and for some most alarming, is a very detailed discovery of what happened to Elena after she left Toto for the last time--the so-called expanded "third act." I was always intrigued by the image of an older woman at the end of the final credits of the original version--I just KNEW that was Elena! I had always thought I wanted to know what had become of her, hence my desire for this cut of the film. But now that I know, I think I'm better off not having known.
The elder Salvatore seemed more potent to me when his present life was wracked with deeply unsettling what-ifs. This version fills in all the blanks and leaves little to uncertainty, and to me this robs the film of its very essence: the notion that for many of us, life is filled with questions that will never be answered, can never be answered. This newer version now suggests the opposite, and makes the older Toto look like a morose stalker.
I'll keep this DVD because I treasure this film, despite the additions. Fortunately, the original version is included, so from this time forward I'll keep the DVD platter on Side B. I, for one, prefer the mystery of unanswered questions because that rings so much truer to life and the spirit of this masterpiece.