Just bought two of Ingmar Bergman’s lesser-known works - Shame and Hour of the Wolf - both made in 1967-68, both starring Liv Ullmann and Max Von Sydow, two of the director’s (and my) favourite actors. But if I succeed in watching either of these films before the year is out, it will be an achievement; as ever, DVD hoarding continues while viewing is non-existent. (Damn you, Literature!!)
While I’m this close to the subject, let me express long-cherished annoyances towards:
A) People who don’t know or care about the vast, vast difference between a DVD and a VCD.
DVDs, you cretins, are to VCDs what Groucho Marx is to Adam Sandler. There are some people I know who won’t comprehend this analogy, so I’ll make it easier: DVDs are far superior things. The quality is better (it might have something to do with pixellation which I won’t get into here, mainly because I don’t know anything about it), they last much longer and there are numerous add-ons (see point B).
VCDs, so popular still in India for whatever reason, have been filtered out of the system in most of the civilised world. (I cringed horribly when a friend I’d taken along to the British Council Library cheerfully asked them if they kept VCDs as well.)
B) People who have somehow managed to watch DVDs over several months without being aware of things like special features, audio commentary and even - shudder shudder - scene selection!
I know this happens because a friend who regularly borrows DVDs from the French Embassy complained recently that some of the films don’t have subtitles on them. I’m going to keep this short because it hurts my brain to think about it, but essentially what she’s been doing is pressing the “Play” button on the remote as soon as the DVD has been loaded - so the film starts immediately and she simply watches it through to the end; which means she’s never even seen the “Main Menu” page that allows you to choose your audio track, subtitles, switch between scenes and access the special features if you want to see any.
Now I understand there are people who might be interested only in watching the actual movie - but they should at least know about all the options available. Personally, I’m so fascinated by audio commentary tracks (the good ones can be as useful as a film-study course) that I sometimes watch movies even for the first time with the commentary track on instead of the regular soundtrack. (Yes, I know that’s taking it to extremes.)
P.S. Do VCD enthusiasts actually manage to watch every film all the way through from beginning to end without taking a single break? Every single time? Because if they stop for any length of time midway - or if there’s a power outage - they have to tediously fast-forward the disc to the same point on re-starting. Sounds like such fun, no? (Incidentally, one of my VCD-adoring buddies visits the loo an average of 16 times each day, so I’m wondering how this works.)
P.P.S. My only support on this subject comes from Kamlesh K Singh, former colleague and editor/ideator par excellence, who writes a sporadic column with DVD reviews and technical information for Today. I’ve known the man to weep when people use the terms “DVD” and “VCD” interchangeably. He occasionally writes DVD-related things on his very quirky blog too, this post for instance. Might invite him here to add to my limited knowledge.