Article on DVDs in the New York Times

 
Old 05-04-03, 06:33 PM
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Article on DVDs in the New York Times

There's a pretty interesting commentary in today's New York Times Magazine on how the DVD format is affecting the viewing of films -- especially the "interactivity" factor and the altering of old films by directors. The writer devotes quite a bit of space to "E.T." and interviews David Lynch about how DVDs are affecting the film-viewing experience.

Here's the link:

New York Times article

Please note, I think you have to be a registered NYT Web site user to read this article. Registration's free though.
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Old 05-04-03, 09:34 PM
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The guy has some interesting points, even some good ones, but it takes him way too many column inches to say it. I was nodding off long before I finished reading his article! Ha!
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Old 05-04-03, 10:35 PM
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Rafferty's points are ones that I've been noticing in some form myself for a while now. There IS something to be said for simply subjecting yourself to a movie, and extras DO lead you to distraction.

BUT.

If the thrust of his argument is that films should only be experienced in an environment where you can completely subject yourself to them, then he probably should have at least laid into videotapes and LDs a little more. The home-viewing environment is inherently distraction-filled; I mean, hell, my TV is at a right angle from my computer, and lord knows how many times I've been watching something, had my interest in the movie fade, and drift over to the 'net until something caught my attention again. In a movie theater, I'd be going over what exactly was disagreeable about it rather than going "I don' wanna" and going off to something else.

He also assumes that most DVD-watchers are using the DVD to supplant the theater-going experience. Hollywood turned a record profit last year, and speaking personally, in the last month I've seen four movies in the theater that really gave me something to think about (those being Irreversible, Japon, The Son, and Winged Migration for the curious). To react like that to a percieved threat is a little much.

As for extras, I can honestly say that I don't really use them all that much. I mean, the Traffic CC is like my favorite DVD ever, but the only extras I've ever used are the director/writer commentary and a few deleted scenes. I use supplements as just that - things to enhance my understanding of a movie rather than as a way to exert ownership over it. I don't want to know all the piddling little **** about the production or anything like that; I just want more information that can lead to understanding the end-product itself better at the end of the day. (And it's worth pointing out that most of my books have introductions or supplemental readings too, for that exact same reason.)

The threat of DVDs, from where I sit, is its ability to categorize exactly what the audience wants. What I hate most about modern Hollywood movies is how exact a science they are, how clearly they demonstrate that they're going to pacify the audience with exactly the movie that they want. What sucks about that is that the medium doesn't move forward thanks to the efforts of easily-digested works; it takes the tough, screw-the-audience-here's-MY-movie works like Citizen Kane or Playtime to really do anything. The culture of extras could, in my opinion, lead very easily and quickly to an audience that wants very specific things out of a movie in an era of studios that don't want to risk giving that audience anything they don't want. THAT is way more dangerous than any eighty-hour cut of the Lord of the Rings movies could ever be.

Anyway. Just my $.02.
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Old 05-04-03, 11:06 PM
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So he has a theory about DVD extras being a distraction. To make his point, he calls David Lynch. Now, there's a big surprise. He could have as easily called Woody Allen or the Coen brothers.

I have a theory about DVD extras adding immeasurably to the movie-viewing experience. To make my point, I could call John Carpenter or Roland Joffe or Robert Wise or Martin Scorsese, who all consider DVDs and their extras a godsend to their art form.

It's all in the pitch.
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Old 05-05-03, 01:19 AM
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Originally posted by rasalas
So he has a theory about DVD extras being a distraction. To make his point, he calls David Lynch. Now, there's a big surprise. He could have as easily called Woody Allen or the Coen brothers.

I have a theory about DVD extras adding immeasurably to the movie-viewing experience. To make my point, I could call John Carpenter or Roland Joffe or Robert Wise or Martin Scorsese, who all consider DVDs and their extras a godsend to their art form.

It's all in the pitch.
I whole-heartedly agree..
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Old 05-05-03, 02:28 AM
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I agree with him. I think director's cuts are very dangerous to film history. A number of films have not been released on DVD with the theatrical cut out, or the transfer of the theatrical cut is inferior to the picture quality of the extended cut.
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Old 05-05-03, 08:37 AM
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Originally posted by Avid
I agree with him. I think director's cuts are very dangerous to film history. A number of films have not been released on DVD with the theatrical cut out, or the transfer of the theatrical cut is inferior to the picture quality of the extended cut.
Right, and that would include the DVD of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, which the article's writer professed to loving so dearly. The version of the movie on the DVD is not the same as it was in theaters.
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Old 05-05-03, 09:03 AM
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The guy took five pages to repeat himself and only half a page interviewing David Lynch. Right...

Like most people have said, his points are well taken.
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Old 05-05-03, 10:04 AM
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I agree with many of his points. The trend to revisit movies is somewhat disturbing. And hyperbole aside, there are posters here who seem to value the “extras” as much as the movie itself.

Thanks for posting the link.
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Old 05-05-03, 10:05 AM
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Originally posted by rasalas
Right, and that would include the DVD of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, which the article's writer professed to loving so dearly. The version of the movie on the DVD is not the same as it was in theaters.

Whats different about Mulholland Dr. from the theater to the DVD? Only thing I've heard is the blocking of some of the nudity, which isn't that big of a deal.
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Old 05-05-03, 10:17 AM
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Originally posted by Furio
Whats different about Mulholland Dr. from the theater to the DVD? Only thing I've heard is the blocking of some of the nudity, which isn't that big of a deal.
F notices can of worms marked "Mulholland Dr Censorship Debate" opening...backs slowly away...flees thread...
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Old 05-05-03, 10:29 AM
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I've seen the debate threads, I'm not trying to debate anything. I'm just wondering what was changed from theater to video because I only saw the DVD. I just don't consider bluring pubic hair to be a "different version".
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Old 05-05-03, 01:06 PM
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Well, there's some question as to whether the Blurred Pubic Hair was also blurred in the theatrical version. Nobody has come up with a definitive answer on that.

Funny, I just watched Mulholland Dr again last night on DVD, and didn't even notice the blur.

Anyway, for the sake of argument, let's say that the pubic hair was indeed NOT blurred in the theatrical version, and the blur was added for the DVD release. That would indeed make the DVD release a different version of the movie, slight though the difference may be.
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Old 05-05-03, 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by Furio
Whats different about Mulholland Dr. from the theater to the DVD? Only thing I've heard is the blocking of some of the nudity, which isn't that big of a deal.
The point isn't how many changes were made or whether or not you consider them "that big of a deal". I think the point is that the film *was* altered (however slightly) between it's theatrical release and it's DVD release.

It's a bit hypocritical for Lynch to say ''it's crazy to go in and fiddle with the film", when he did that exact same thing just months ago...


While the article makes some good points, the author should not have allowed that comment to go unchecked. And, as others have pointed out, calling up a director who is notorious for disliking extras (even chapter stops) backs up your point without exploring it. How about interviewing other respected filmmakers who have embraced extras to find out what they think?
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Old 05-05-03, 02:21 PM
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Yes, it is extremely hypocritical of Lynch to bash editing of movies on DVD, and he did it with Muholland Drive. What a joke.
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Old 05-05-03, 02:39 PM
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Its one thing for outside parties to re-edit films, but quite another if a director does so. Yes, I realize certain fans don't like it, but they have to respect the integrity of the creators.
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Old 05-05-03, 10:48 PM
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Originally posted by MrN
Its one thing for outside parties to re-edit films, but quite another if a director does so. Yes, I realize certain fans don't like it, but they have to respect the integrity of the creators.
I respect the filmmakers who release get it right the first time around.

A lot of theatrical cuts do not have as good a transfer as their (newer release) director's cut counterpart or are not on DVD at all. If there is going to be a director's cut I think the theatrical cut should be available with the same quality transfer.
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Old 05-06-03, 08:47 AM
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Since films are rarly the product of an artist's vision, but rather a compromise of Studio exectives, producers and producers' wives, the thing we see on the big screen is not always (probably rarely) the "artist's" vision.

So where does that leave us? Terry Gilliam's Brazil is clearly a better film than the "Love Conquers All" version that was, for a short time, foisted upon the public by "smart" producers who read the preview comments cards and re-edited to reflect what the public wanted. (Also Orson Welles, Ridley Scott, probably many many other film-makers.) So there is no definitive version ofthe movie? With the ability to see what was intended rather than what got out, we benefit.

"Touch of Evil" is a great example. I used to hate that film. The latest release shows (nearly) what we could have had. Imagine how great "The Magnificent Ambersons" might have beeb with Welles finishing his own editing... (which I think he hated doing, and ran away from to avoid decisions, - but that's another issue.)

I like the theatrical version of Blade Runner and prefer it. Same with The Excorcist, Apocalypse Now, ET and probably more.

I like the Director's cut of Army of Darkness, Once Upon a Time in America, Leon (The Professional), Metropolis, Brazil and again, probably more. I like the ability to choose a version (PLEASE GIVE ME BACK THE OLD BLADE RUNNER!) to view even though I don't like the concept of multiple versions of the same film.

Sure, I realize the paradox of this opinion. To quote Walt Whitman, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. " Well, I may not be that large, but at least I can quote one famous smart guy to make it look like I know what I'm talking about.

Somebody has to decide which film I get to see, and I prefer that somebody to be me. If a decision needs to get made, I'll be standing right in line to make that decision- either to buy a movie ticket or rent/buy a DVD. My choice. I like that. Don't you?
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Old 05-07-03, 11:18 AM
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Originally posted by jblackie
Since films are rarly the product of an artist's vision, but rather a compromise of Studio exectives, producers and producers' wives, the thing we see on the big screen is not always (probably rarely) the "artist's" vision.
Well put!

I, for one, am ok with people changing films but I feel that the orgininal version should always be offered as an option on the disk. That should be feasible as most of the data is in common between a "doctored" and a "as released" film.
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