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Rewriting Rewritten History  
Columnist Gersh Kuntzman re-edits some classic cinema in the name of political correctness  

    May 29 —  Hollywood’s PC police have done it again! In the name of political correctness (make that “overseas ticket sales”), Disney announced last week that it will edit some scenes in “Pearl Harbor” to avoid offending the Japanese.  

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  WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT that Disney could have me wishing I was Japanese? Having seen “Pearl Harbor,” I hope Disney will cut a lot more scenes. (I’d especially like to see the romantic moments chopped, as well as those in which you’re supposed to take Alec Baldwin seriously. Those bits bombed worse than the Japanese did.)
        But maybe Disney is onto something. I mean, why should historical dramas offend our current-day allies just because we used to be bitter, hateful enemies? Disney’s creative editing has encouraged me to think of how other movies—in which our enemies are depicted in a less-than-flattering light—could be re-edited. Here’s what I came up with:
        “Schindler’s List”: Sure, Germany’s wartime atrocities remain the centerpiece of the film, but the Nazi concentration camps will now be depicted as health spas and weight-loss clinics rather than death camps. In addition, Hitler will be presented not as a brutal dictator, but as a better-than-average painter who just happened to dabble in governmental affairs.
        “The Ten Commandments”: The original epic is now seen as an assault on Egypt’s heritage, so the edited version will present the Egyptian pharaohs merely as hard-driving construction supervisors intent on completing major public works projects like the pyramids and the Sphinx on time and on budget. The ten plagues will be edited down to a five, since environmental advocates have objected that cattle disease, locusts, vermin, hail and blood in all the rivers despoil nature.
        “Casablanca”: Deemed offensive to the French, who are depicted as spineless capitulators to the Nazis, this movie now ends with the French police captain Louis Renault getting onto the plane with the lovely Ilsa, leaving Rick and Victor Lazslo walking off into the moonlight. “This could be the beginning of a beautiful, three-week bender,” Rick says, consoling Lazslo.
        “The Hunt for Red October”: Worried that a movie about the defection of a Soviet agent could offend Russia, the final scene has been altered. Instead of showing the Soviet sub commander (played by Sean Connery) and the American intelligence officer (Alec Baldwin) sailing off together in a purloined Soviet nuclear submarine, the scene now shows them sharing a summer house in the Hamptons.
        “JFK”: Deemed offensive to anyone with even a passing knowledge of American history, Oliver Stone’s movie will be re-edited to eliminate the implication that the 35th president was assassinated by a gay-Cuban-Mafia-union-alcoholic-cross-dressing cabal funded by the CIA, the FBI, the EPA, the BBC and the ILGWU.
        “The Last Temptation of Christ”: Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film was deemed offensive to Catholics because it depicted Jesus questioning his crucifixion and dreaming of living a happy married life with Mary Magdalene. In the edited version, an angel of the Lord, taking the form of Rudy Giuliani, appears before Jesus—and, wouldn’t you know it, all thoughts of marital bliss immediately vanish from his mind.
        “Independence Day”: Rather than offend alien life forms—who will someday be a major rental market for this sci-fi film—the scene in which the little green men destroy the White House with a death ray has been removed. In the new scenes, the aliens are welcomed inside to help the administration formulate energy policy.
        “South Park”: In the current climate of fear, moviemakers have worried about a film that urges America to take up arms against its neighbor to the north. So the movie’s theme song will be edited from “Blame Canada!” to “Blame Xanadu!”—and now will be a call to arms against Olivia Newton-John’s 1980 roller-rink schlockfest.
        “Chariots of Fire”: All the scenes of the sprinters training for the Olympics will be re-edited to eliminate the suggestion that all English private school students are effeminate fops.
        “The Patriot”: Rather than risk offending the English by casting the Revolutionary War as an epic struggle between American colonists and the evil British Empire, editors have sliced crucial scenes so that the vicious English Redcoats are merely depicted as a bunch of guys looking for proper dental care.
        “The Deer Hunter”: Animal rights advocates screamed bloody murder over the film’s depictions of ritualistic slaughter of defenseless Bambis. So instead of running through the forest to massacre deer, the friends in the edited version of the movie now tend to the deer on their own organic free-range petting zoo. Also, the scene in which North Vietnamese soldiers force their American prisoners to play Russian Roulette has been altered to avoid offending the Russians. Now, the solders play real roulette, although the Vietnamese don’t let them keep their winnings. In the Vietnamese-edited version, the soldiers get to know their jailers with a friendly game of Twister.
        “Heartbreak Ridge”: In this forgotten Clint Eastwood classic, the invasion of Grenada will be completely re-edited to avoid offending our Caribbean allies. Instead of invading the island, the grizzled Eastwood leads his group of untested Marine recruits in a mid-day raid on a tattoo parlor, where they get their first battle scars.
        “Saving Private Ryan”: Sure, Tom Hanks and his troops still have to battle the hated Nazis, but the climactic scene in which Hanks’s character dies trying to blow up a bridge before the enemy can cross it has been replaced with a scene of Hanks thumb-wrestling the German commander for control of it.

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post and the author of “HAIR! Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness” (Random House). Visit him at http://www.gersh.tv/
       © 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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