So Wenders personally financed a restored version. Not a cheap strategy, but a fairly fashionable one. Directors' cuts are the rage, from the five-hour - or was it six-hour? - Dances with Wolves to the 25 added minutes of The Abyss and the revived box office of Blade Runner. The latter is the only one to be actually shorter; Ridley Scott put film before ego and trimmed.
Of course, directors' cuts are partially excerises in self-indulgence (Fox were right to reduce The Abyss) and partially attempts to squeeze the last drop of cash out of the product; no buff wants to think they may have by-passed a potential masterpiece. Still, Till the End of the World is a possible exception to the rule: a disaster on this scale isn't likely to suddenly turn a profit and, besides, Wenders wears his art on his sleeve - what better riposte to the byte-sized world he fearfully envisions than a road movie where the road goes on (and on and on) forever?
Those who've clocked the latest edition - tomorrow's screening is its second ever showing - claim that Till the End of the World now plays, well, quicker, plugging the yawning gaps in a one-time, sloppy pseudo sci-fi tale of a planet on the brink (it's 1999 and nuclear satellites spin above). It's even rumoured to clarify the on-the-run William Hurt's motivations - really, how much harm can the bad guys do with a camera designed to help the blind see? Or was this once meant to be a joke rather than a metaphor? As Wenders says, when you discard, the first thing you lose is the funny stuff.
'Till the End of the World', Sat 4.30pm, NFT1, South Bank, SE1 (071-928 3232)