The theatrical version runs 163 minutes. A 218 minute version was released in the US in 1998 under the mistaken title of the "Director's Cut". It was known by this erroneous title until the 2008 Criterion DVD and Blu-ray Disc came out. Bertolucci and DP Vittorio Storaro made it clear while working on the DVD and BD that the shorter theatrical version is without doubt the director's cut. The 218 minute version was an early cut meant only to be aired as a four-part television mini-series by the Italian television network that funded the film.
The Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray releases are re-framed in director of photography Vittorio Storaro's preferred Univisium 2.00:1 format. This was the intended ratio for the film, despite it being commonly projected in 2.39:1 during its theatrical release.