My wife and I watched a couple of movies over the weekend and we tried listening to the director’s commentary just as a change of pace.
With the first movie, Doubt, we gained some insights about how it was made, the choices and decisions made during filming, what had to be redone and what sorts of things must be considered as filming takes place. In short, it was a look inside a magician’s tool kit to gain insight to the magic which makes the magic we call movies. (Yes, I used the word “magic” twice there, on purpose.)
We also decided to try this with J.J. Abrams’s 2009 reboot of Star Trek. We saw the movie, and had our own thoughts and feelings and opinions about it. We first watched the Making of… featurette on the DVD and got some insight on the actual filming and some of the tricks involved, which was cool, and that boded well. Right?
With all that under our belts, we thought it might be all right to hear Abrams talk about the movie.
I found out what he thought while filming and what I thought while watching were divergent. So divergent, some of the fun it originally held got lost for me.
I ended up learning three things about watching movie commentary.
Seeing how the magician’s tricks work makes the magic more fun
With a director who can articulate well, and explains the movie’s ins and outs as it runs, it can be a fun experience. Learning how this exterior and that interior were blended to make a seamless shot, or how this location had part of what they wanted for the building but this spot had another element and how those were combined … those sorts of things are fun to hear about and very cool. Doubt ran as a successful play before being adapted as a movie, and the transition took some doing. Since the director of the movie was also the playwright, his commentary helped us understand the movie and the characters and how different the play and movie became.
Seeing how the magician’s tricks works makes the magic less fun
By the same token, a director who’s not as good at speaking and explaining about the movie, and who surrounds himself with a couple of goofy college-buddy a$$ kissers acting like dorks … well, let’s say the experience isn’t as enhancing as it is detrimental.
First of all, if he wanted to remake Star Wars, he really should’ve done that instead of Star Trek. Trying to turn one into the other only serves to disappoint them both, and that’s what Abrams did. I noticed it when I saw the movie for the first time (ah, library DVDs, how I love thee!), but hearing his explanations and the college geek fan-boy antics during the so-called “commentary” made me more than a little irritated with the childish crap.
Sometimes things are better left as they are
I thought about watching Signs with the commentary turned on, but I’m not so sure I want to do that. I like that movie right now and when I hear what the director has to say about what’s going on I might lose some of that.
How ‘bout you? Have you ever dug deeper than you wanted to in something you liked only to have it turn sour on you? Or to have you go sour on it? What was it?
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