Improvements to picture and sound quality are only some of the benefits of having films in digital formats. It also gives studios the scope to make full use of the disc space. VHS tried to incorporate the idea of bonus features with some later releases including a “Making of” documentary, though this was sometimes only on Special Edition copies.
But discs really give the concept room to breathe. Studios don’t always seem to get the idea. Some films come with so little in the way of additional material that you feel they just weren’t interested in their new project.
Not every project merits the full bells and whistles treatment I suppose, though it’s very satisfying when a director really understands and embraces the medium. Peter Jackson, sorry Pider Jickson, clearly knows what it’s all about. For a guy who doesn’t quite have the discipline he needs in the editing room, (take a cushion and something to piss in when you go to a film of his) it’s no surprise he has a ton of material available for bonus features. The Lord of the Rings movies have very good commentaries as well as behind the scenes documentaries. There is so much content it requires its own booklet to map you through it.
Spielberg feels that a commentary from him would somehow spoil the magic but that seems a shame. Someone so passionate about cinema would be enlightening and entertaining. Scorsese is a motormouth like Tarantino when it comes to discussing his films, the enthusiasm and knowledge flowing out of your speakers.
The practice of studios releasing movies with different bonus features according to region can be a little frustrating. Unless there are rights issues with some material I find it to be poor planning. The constant chopping and changing every time the movie is rereleased also seems like they’re making it up as they go along.
DVD extras truly come into their own with proper restoration projects. Apocalypse Now is a classic example. The 1979 theatrical release is rightly considered one of the finest movies ever made. Coming through an infamously turbulent production, it emerged to win the Palme D’or at Cannes and yet it was many years before its director felt able to return to the project and reconsider it. Scenes he had felt compelled to cut from the final edit, such as the French Plantation scene, were included and the Redux version was released in 2001. This special edition gave Francis Ford Coppola the ability to issue a box set. You could select the original theatrical release, the Redux version or you could even watch the astonishing, award winning “making of” documentary; Hearts of Darkness: A Filmaker’s Apocalypse. Arguably the definitive making of documentary, this behind the scenes footage makes you appreciate the finished article even more. It is perhaps the best bonus feature any movie has ever had.
Ultimately, when a film means a lot to you, or you thoroughly enjoy it and want to find out more, you sometimes get the chance to really immerse yourself in the experience with a collection of well chosen bonus features that add to the experience, enriching your appreciation of the material, not “spoiling the magic”.
Do you ever actually get round to watching any DVD extras or do you particularly make a point of watching them?