The main source of contention was reportedly the film’s running time: Fox insisted upon a running time of no longer than 150 minutes, while the filmmaker’s preferred cut ran closer to three hours. It’s telling that the version that Irish cinemagoers will finally see this month, although officially endorsed by Kenneth Lonergan, runs exactly 150 minutes on the nose. It’s been suggested that this cut was supervised by Martin Scorsese, for whom Lonergan penned Gangs Of New York – even in a compromised form, Margaret is an extraordinary work, albeit one that leaves the tantalising prospect of a Director’s Cut further down the line. Tales of creative disputes between studios and filmmakers – usually resulting in the martyrdom of the misunderstood mad genius behind the camera – are as old as Hollywood itself, from Erich Von Stroheim’s Greed to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. In this case, it’s the same old story: Fox gave Margaret a perfunctory run in a few major US cities, with a minimum of publicity, until a web-based grass roots campaign, coupled with the protests of several noteworthy US critics (themselves an endangered species these days), kick-started a movement, of sorts; slowly, steadily, the film continues to accumulate fervent champions, your humble correspondent included.
Margaret is opening at the IFI this Friday, February 24th - to book your tickets, contact our Box Office on 01 679 3477 or book online [here].