Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sorcerer DVD disappointment

 Sorcerer: the new box art, above, and the old below. 
It's not like DVD sales weren't bad enough already. Those of us still fond of the format - as well as those of us who can't afford a few thousand dollars for a flatscreen plasma TV and Blu-Ray player - have been dealt another blow by the recent release of William Friedkin's Sorcerer, which, after months of excitement that the film was finally being re-distributed in a restored version, has been given a lazy, bungled, flat-out insulting DVD presentation.

I'm not speaking of the Blu-Ray version of the film, mind you. I have no means at present to watch it, but I can only assume that it is just peachy, and that, as the box says, it is presented in the proper aspect ratio with a nice high-def transfer. No doubt it decisively makes obsolete the inferior previous DVD release of the film - infamously presented in the wrong aspect ratio and with a grainy, shitty "broadcast master" transfer that looks like you're watching it on VHS or late night TV or something.

The thing is, lacking a Blu-Ray player, I still had full intention of buying the film on DVD to see it in the proper aspect ratio, with a nice clear picture. I would have done this, even though I already own the shitty previous DVD release of it, because I love the movie so much. Under this scenario, I would have bought it yet again on Blu-Ray at such a time as I upgraded to a player that supports the format. The studio had the chance, here, to sell me the same movie THREE FUCKING TIMES, dig? I care about this film enough that I would have done this happily, and surely I am not the only such cinephile out there.

But I had a most unpleasant discovery when I went to pick up the film at Videomatica: the new DVD release of the film is simply a repackaging of the old, inferior release. It updates the box art and DVD label, but contains the familiar warning on the back cover that it is the "standard version," formatted to fit your screen - as if square TVs were the standard anymore! BJ obligingly opened a copy and popped it in the player, and not only did it continue to present the picture in the wrong aspect ratio, with black bars on the left and right of the store's widescreen TV - but it was the same grainy, low-def transfer that was previously distributed, the one that this new release was meant to replace. It's almost funny, really.

So people with a Blu-Ray player get the nice new restoration of the film, and those of us still using DVD - well, who cares about us? We obviously don't have much purchasing power. Hell, we probably won't even know the difference. Why bother spending money to give us a nice transfer of the film in the proper aspect ratio? Just change the cover art and you can get rid of some of these old inferior DVDs you have lying around... yeah!

This is a momentously lazy middle finger to fans of Sorcerer and to anyone who still uses DVD technology (and since none of the people I actually watch movies at home with owns a Blu-Ray player, I know I'm not the only such person out there). Cynical, indifferent, boo hiss boo - though it saved me some money, so I guess it has that going for it...


Thanks to Danny for pointing out that William Friedkin himself has weighed in on the matter on Amazon! I think I kind of love this guy...

1 comment:

dimitrios otis said...

what a scam ! I haven't seen this movie since my film prof at York U showed us the original and the re-make (16mm prints) in 1978. remember it well, though...