If you are a foreign film fan, than you no doubt know the ballad of Harvey Scissorhands, the seemingly benevolent porducer who buys up the rights to intriguing international fare, and then slices it down into digestable patties for the masses. In the late 90s to early 'aughts, when a subtitled film being released into mainstream theaters was nearly unheard of, many film buffs had to endure Harveys handling of pictures like Miyazakis Princess Mononoke, and Zhang Yimous Hero. I still recall the random and unecessary subtitles at the start of the Masamouri Oshii's Avalon, later realizing they were never meant to be there in the first place. Although this tactic for butchering films and making homogenized American cuts from their remains seems to have died down in recent years, Harvey is picking up the blades again for one of this years most lauded international projects, Bong Joon-Hos Snowpiercer. A box office hit in its homeland of Korea, Snowpiercer has been racking up seriously positive reviews from nearly every venue thats seen itincluding Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Twitchand garnering accolades for its director. Of course, then, the next logical step would be for The Weinstein Company, who has international rights for the film, to announce that they plan to cut a hefty 20 minutes of footage before it hits the shores of North America, the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, right? A science fiction epic taking place on a train in a frozen future world, Snowpiercer boasts a surprisingly eclectic cast-- Chris Evans, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer--and a mostly English-language script. Despite all that, apparently TWC still has reason for concern, and wants to remove a chunk of the 126 minute film, because its nervous about howsaid picture might play in certain portions of America. Critic Tony Rayns says that Bong was told by TWC that they want to ensure that Snowpiercer will be understood by audiences in Iowaand Oklahoma. For some reason, the suits are getting twitchy about the Mid-wests response to a movie about people who want to move from the back to the front of public transportation. Joking aside, their reasoning is both absurd and insulting, and casts some light on the mind-set towards ambitious films. Harveys paid for the rights, which no doubt give him access to make these cuts, and in this business bottom dollar is obviously going to trump artistic integrity. However, history doesnt support the idea that a cut-to-pieces film thats percieved as too challenging for mainstream fares better financially than one thats released as is. If I had to guess, the cuts are being done to appease TWC's sense of managing the product more than any real intent to improve its stateside viability. Throwing the poor Iowans and Oklahomans under the bus is just a smokescreen. If Harvey and company really think of these areas as not being capable of embracing Snowpiercer, is slashing it apart really going to help them? Rayns has gone on to say "Leaving aside the issue of what Weinstein thinks of its audience, it seems to say the least anomalous that the rest of the English-speaking world has to be dragged down to the presumed level of American mid-west hicks." Its also unsurprising to hear that the requested cuts deal almost solely with character detail, likely resulting in a film with less nuance and more emphasis on straight-forward action. There are suspicions too, that the cutting may be intended to lighten up what is apparently a very dark picture. Rayns says that the UK plans to protest the proposed cuts, and hes hopeful that Australia may do the same. As for American audiences, well, at least they can be happy in what Harvey likely still calls "The Dust Bowl". Expect peititons to show up online calling an end to this absurdity, and dont be surprised if a few of the names on the list even hail from Iowa...or Oklahoma. What do you think about this? Isnt it about time Harvey Weinstein and the team left well enough alone when it comes to slashing international films for domestic audiences?