Perhaps all these comments should be moved to the Second Sight thread or even the Parajanov thread?
I'm pretty relaxed about it, though - as with the 185-minute Andrei Rublev, the Yutkevich version is the one I'm most familiar with, and the poor picture quality of the various "director's cut" editions (including a big-screen outing at the ICA in London) is distracting, to put it mildly. And this film above all needs the best picture you can realistically get - and I'm delighted that it's finally got it. (And if anyone wants to see the "director's cut", it's still available from Kino or Films Sans Frontières, with English subtitles in both cases).
The Yuktevich version is definitely a viable version, though it is not ideal since Yutkevich made some unwarranted changes to the structure of the film. The so-called "director's cut" is also compromised in some ways--it is emphatically not
a director's cut but the official Armenian release version of the film, the end product after Parajanov had battled extensively with the censors. One of their stipulations was that Parajanov had to remove all of the references to Sayat-Nova in the film's title and the chapter titles, since they felt it took too many liberties with Sayat-Nova's life.
Originally, Parajanov's chapter titles explained the contents of each chapter in a relatively straightforward manner. Hrant Matevosyan's Armenian-language titles for the Armenian release version express the underlying mood of each scene in a poetic manner and some Armenians really like the way they are written, but in my opinion they make the film unduly difficult to follow. The editing of the Armenian version is arguably closer to Parajanov's intentions; he may have made some editorial changes under pressure, but he ultimately signed off on the Armenian release version.
Yutkevich actually admired the film and wanted it to be more widely seen; he was a script reader behind the scenes, so he was familiar with the project from its beginning stages. Yutkevich's changes enabled the film to get distributed outside of Armenia, since at that point the authorities in Moscow didn't want to support Parajanov's work. Initially Parajanov was upset about the changes, but years later he thanked Yutkevich for "saving" the film, otherwise it might have languished in obscurity. Besides the superior image quality, the Yutkevich version has the advantage of chapter titles which make it easier to follow what is going on. Actually, Yutkevich's chapter titles are a little closer to what Parajanov originally wanted, though not identical.
To be honest, these days when I introduce the film to first time viewers I prefer to show the Yutkevich version since it's more accessible and it looks vastly better, though I can't say that it's necessarily a "better" film. Still, visual quality is so important to the film's unique form of poetic expression that you could make a case for preferring the Yutkevich cut purely on the grounds of the image alone. Second Sight certainly made the right decision based on the present circumstances.