Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ah, Forever Young Film Preservation...

I had considered writing up a formal review of Blood Simple, but as time just isn't what it used to be, the Cap'n decided to focus on one particular aspect of the DVD, which happens to be a semi-running gag with the Coen Brothers: Forever Young Film Preservation.

Provided you haven't seen the Universal Blood Simple disc or the 10th Anniversary disc for The Big Lebowski, I can imagine this little joke is lost on you. Ever the sneaky DVD extra tricksters, the Coens created a wholly fictional film preservation society in order to mock the "restoration" process, which was - and still is - in vogue when the discs were released.

Blood Simple opens with an introduction from "Kenneth Loring" of Forever Film Preservation, who promises this all new digital version of the film uses the highest quality digital restoration with all the sound restored and remixed and all the "boring parts" cut out. The Coens are making a savvy crack at the "director's cut" craze by shortening their own film, and to top it off they make up a fake preservation society to oversell the gag. "Kenneth Loring" also appears on a commentary track, reporting misleading and at times patently false information in a scholarly and authoritative tone. Take that, Criterion.

Of course, that's not the only appearance Forever Young Film Preservation makes. For the anniversary edition of The Big Lebowski, "Mortimer Young" introduces the movie with even more flagrant lies. Since there's no edit of the film, "Young" claims that "The Grand Lebowski" had to be meticulously restored from an Eastern European print with a missing soundtrack. In order to save the movie, a John Goodman sound-alike was brought in to voice Walter. There's no commentary track, but you get the idea.

It's a rather dirty trick to play on DVD newbies, or people who have a hard time distinguishing sarcasm, even in such an obvious way. I tried to find you the video files so you could see for yourself, but apparently no one on YouTube thought the jokes were that funny. Too bad, as it reinforces in many ways just how carefully the Coen brothers work to undercut pompous DVD "extras" and what a wicked sense of humor they really have.

Now if only Forever Young Film Preservation could explain what happened on The Ladykillers...


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Side Note: Avatar is apparently now the highest grossing movie ever made (if not adjusted for inflation), knocking out Titanic. Congratulations nerds; now James Cameron has the two highest grossing films of all time, but the blue cat thing is better than the boat movie. The nerds win.

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