Originally released at 222 minutes. Shortly after its premiere, David Lean, reportedly under the orders of producer Sam Spiegel, cut 20 minutes from the film. The 1971 re-release cut the film further to 187 minutes. The film was restored in 1988 at 216 minutes. This version, supervised by Lean, was advertised as a Director's Cut.
The 1983 Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), also commonly known RCA Selectavision Videodisc contains the 1971 re-release version which was rated "G" by the MPAA.
In accordance with a 1995 decision by the Writers Guild of America to give Michael Wilson a co-writing credit (based on documentary evidence that he had been a major contributor to the script), newer copies such as the DVD and the prints made for the 40th anniversary re-release feature the altered credit: "Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson" (previously, only Bolt's name was listed).