According to Digital Bits reader Mike L., Magnolia has gotten those Blu-rays with the proper theatrical subtitles out there. Finally! Keep your eyes open. No word on exchanges yet. Probably a negative. But here’s what the puppy looks like:
Looks like Magnolia Releasing has finally released their DVD of the amazing Swedish vampire flick LET THE RIGHT ONE IN with the proper theatrical subtitles. However, the fixed Blu-ray version is still MIA, but we’re hoping that changes soon. VERY soon. In the meantime, if you’re planning to buy or rent the film on standard DVD, look for the following on both the DVD back cover and the DVD menu. And if you’re wondering if it really makes all that big a difference or not, it does. It really, truly does:
A little late, you say? Hogwash! I usually wait till long after Awards Season to make my picks as it usually takes me that long to catch up with most (though sadly not all) of the films released in any given year that I really want to see. As such, I reserve the right to add films to this list as I view them. I’m sure there are a few that I missed and will discover as the year progresses.
I don’t do “Best” and “Worst” as I don’t think I’m qualified to make such statements, but instead I prefer “Favorites” and “Least Favorites”. I also don’t limit myself to 10 films in each category. There are as many or as few as feel appropriate. There are some other categories as well and they are, I believe, self-explanatory.
As always, there will be those who will vehemently disagree with my choices, but that is one of the reasons I have made the categories “personal” and not “absolute.” It is not unusual for me to find disappointment in films that many others rave about or award statues to. By the same token, it is not uncommon for me to cherish films that either slipped under the radar or were considered “too slow” by many. I am therefore thankful that filmmakers of different visions get to express themselves in today’s world. Granted, this happens far more outside the industrial machine that is Hollywood (with so many cookie-cutter formulas and all-powerful CEO’s), but I am simply thrilled it happens at all. Here’s to different styles, visions and tastes!
HAPPY GO LUCKY
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
I‘VE LOVED YOU SO LONG
THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND
CHE (Parts 1 & 2)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS
After legions of fans pointed out that the subtitles on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the amazing Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN had been dramatically altered and dumbed-down from the film’s theatrical release, Magnolia agreed to release a version with the theatrical subs as soon as their current inventory sells out. But they were very clear that they would not make exchanges for those of us who had already bought the film under the assumption that it would not have been altered from the theatrical version. Nothing on the packaging nor in the press materials forewarned buyers of this change.
According to Icons Of Fright:
…the following is not an “official” statement. The following is an email that a reader named John wanted me to share with you. The following is Magnolia’s response to HIM…
“Yes the bloggers are having a field day on this one. Normally they like to pick on the English Dub tracks, but in this case it’s the subtitles. Obviously online tend to get rowdy and bandwagon mentality without knowing all the details. The current subtitle track is not altering the context of the film at all, in fact it’s a more literal translation than any prior version of subtitles. It’s not a defective or faulty subtitle file. Just more literal and larger in size for the small screen. Both English and Spanish subtitle files were produced for this dvd release. Frankly it’s not all that uncommon to have the subs vary from prior releases, typically go unnoticed as subs are purely a translation of film dialogue. This wouldn’t have been a blip had it not been for one particular horror blog doing a side by side and claiming that they are wrong. They are not. We are not doing a recall or anything of that nature, again, these are not defective. Title came out two weeks ago and general public don’t notice and don’t care – bloggers are well known for jumping on something, making an issue of it and moving on. We have decided that based on the feedback that we will be making a running change, so that going forward (once inventories deplete), we will be making that subtitle version available. Options in set up will be; English Subtitles / English (theatrical) Subtitles / Spanish Subtitles””
As someone who DOES speak Swedish, I can tell you first hand that the newer subtitles are NOT a more literal translation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunate that Magnolia (or someone speaking for Magnolia) appears to have such a negative outlook on the consumers and supporters of their own products.
I wonder what LET THE RIGHT ONE IN director Tomas Alfredson thinks about all of this…
It seems that there’s been quite a buzz through the online community of DVD and Blu-ray fans over the English subtitles used for the home release of the popular Swedish vampire flick, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. It seems the film’s distributor, MAGNET, chose to use a different translation other than the one which appeared in the popular theatrical release. According to Icons Of Fright:
The subtitles had been drastically changed since the last time I saw it, and dare I say… had been completely dumbed down? Sure, the basic gist of what the characters were saying was kind of there, but missing completely was the dark humor, subtleties and character nuances which made the movie so powerful and a favorite amongst audiences last year. I tried to carry on and ignore it, hoping that only a few of the translations were off… but… I was wrong. Just about the intent of every single line of dialogue was completely off and ruined the movie.
The good news is that the folks over at The Digital Bits contacted Magnet about the problem and received this response:
“We’ve been made aware that there are several fans that don’t like the version of the subtitles on the DVD/BR. We had an alternate translation that we went with. Obviously a lot of fans thought we should have stuck with the original theatrical version. We are listening to the fans feedback, and going forward we will be manufacturing the discs with the subtitles from the theatrical version.”
The bad news is, when asked about exchanges for those, like myself, who have already purchased this “inferior” version of the film, Magnet’s response was:
“There are no exchanges. We are going to make an alternate version available however. For those that wish to purchase a version with the theatrical subtitles, it will be called out in the tech specs box at the back/bottom of the package where it will list SUBTITLES: ENGLISH (Theatrical), SPANISH.”
This is, to say the least, VERY unfortunate. You see, the film’s biggest fans are the very ones who raced out and purchased it right away. They are also the ones who made Magnet aware of the problem in the first place. All of us are thrilled beyond words that Magnet chose to distribute this film in the States AND release it not just on DVD but on Blu-ray as well. But Magnet made a very poor choice in changing the subtitles and, as is shown below, the difference is truly dramatic. They should take the hit for this poor decision and not lay it on the film’s biggest supporters. I have a feeling they’ll be getting a lot of angry letters these next few weeks.
Here are some examples of the difference in tone from one set of subs to the next. The following screen captures are courtesy of Icons Of Fright:
Here is a scene from early in the film. These subs are from the theatrical release and clearly show the proper tone and dark humor inherent in the film and in the exchange between these two main characters:
Now here is the new Magnet DVD/Blu-ray translation of that same exchange:
Wow. So much for capturing nuance!
And here’s an example of dumbing down the dialogue by choosing to illustrate something painfully obvious by adding dialogue that was not actually in the film!
To see more startling examples, please visit Icons Of Fright. As you’ll see, each example is more offensive than the last. One wonders what the thought process was behind this. Was it the belief that Americans would be too stupid to get the humor and subtleties? Or maybe it was a money issue as in not wanting to pay for rights to the original translation, as the folks over at Icons Of Fright suggest? The most likely reason to me is simply that the folks at Magnet know that many Americans still don’t like to read subtitles therefore they were simply “reducing” the number of subtitles that needed to be read! And like so many producers I’ve run into and worked with, they don’t seem to understand that it’s not just about getting “information” across to an audience that is important. It is, in fact, the subtleties, nuances and poetry of a piece that make it a great film instead of one that’s just okay. That’s what storytelling is!
And this last reason also seems quite probable as it should be noted that the DVD/Blu-ray offers the English dubbed version of the film as the play default. You actually have to return to the menu and manually select the original Swedish track in order to see the film in its original language. Not a release tailored to the foreign film-lover, to say the least.
Oddly enough, the subtitle issue is, in some ways, a moot point for me as I actually speak Swedish and don’t need them. But part of the joy of owning a film is watching it with your friends and turning new people on to it. Well, I had a movie night set up for this very reason. And I was really looking forward to seeing the film again, exposing my friends to it, and engaging in whatever conversation followed. But I’m canceling that little event until the “proper” version is released. AND I can trade in my old copy for the new one. Because really Magnet, do you want me to hold off purchasing any other titles until I know for sure that what I’m purchasing is, in fact, what I think I’m purchasing? However, if I know you stand behind your products AND your customers, then I can buy with confidence. I do hope you change your mind and do the right thing.
Addendum: e-mail Magnet and ask them to reconsider their exchange policy on LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Their e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I must be getting old because I find myself referring back far too often to my youth and how things “used to be.” Granted, I came of age during Hollywood’s second Golden Era: the 70’s. Actually, to be more accurate, I started living and breathing cinema in the late 60’s and was exposed to first releases of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and BONNIE AND CLYDE among so many others. And for a good decade or more, films were a sight to behold. Daring and edgy while dipping ambiguously into alternate realities and tackling subjects and characters with an inner desire to strip away the outer layers and look closely at what lies beneath, all the while pushing the boundaries of the medium in a way unseen to date.
So in my old-age, I have to shake my head slightly when I hear directors like Zack Snyder hailed as “groundbreaking” and “visionary.” Now I have nothing against Zack Snyder personally, but I have yet to witness any real visionary storytelling in his films. I haven’t found any of them downright “bad”, but they have sadly left me feeling rather empty. DAWN OF THE DEAD stripped away the social commentary that made the original so damn effective. And 300 looked really cool, but was ultimately lacking in character or depth. At least for my tastes. WATCHMEN isn’t a horrible film by any stretch and there are some interesting themes and moments, but at the end of the day, I was bored through a good portion of the film and almost walked out in the first half hour. I found myself slightly more involved as the film continued, but only slightly. And as for the visuals, as with 300, the images were ultimately empty, though at times striking. These films left me with very little to hold on to after the end credits rolled. I never felt challenged or stimulated or moved. These films never got past my first layer of skin, no less into my gut.
The world of special effects these days has dulled something in film for me. When used sparingly, it can be a wonderful tool. However, when a film is allowed to ride on its effects budget alone, the results are often artistically disastrous, regardless of box office intake.
The STAR WARS prequels were vapid. Yes, even REVENGE OF THE SITH which, despite the claims of those desperate to find something of value there, was a lesson in non-storytelling. It was a wonderful display of effects devoid of performance or script.
The other side of the coin could be, say, the recent Swedish vampire flick LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which used its effects sparingly with the result being that each effect was a part of the story and therefore had far more impact than if the film were an effects extravaganza, as the American version would have been (or will probably be).
And then there are films like STRAW DOGS which I had the pleasure of watching again recently. You know, when all is said and done, STRAW DOGS is a film that could only get made today as an indie. If that. Very few locations, a handful of great actors, a challenging script and theme, and a director with something to say and the talent to say it. It is the powerful and incredible editing in STRAW DOGS that is its greatest “effect.” So you won’t see ANYTHING like STRAW DOGS worming its way through the Hollywood system today. No, not without having its guts removed piece by piece until any trace of humanity, artistry and/or meaning had been thoroughly stripped from it. Sorry to be such a sad sack, but it’s the truth. And, sadly, even the indie world is filled with filmmakers yearning to walk away from the creative goldmine that is indie filmmaking, to pass into the ranks of Hollywood star directors. Just like so many visionary foreign filmmakers who come to Hollywood and never make another film of vision or substance. I take my hat off to the Pedro Almodovars of the world who recognize the glory of their current situations and turn away from the siren’s call of Hollywoodland.
So it was that when I read Kyle Smith‘s review of WATCHMEN in the New York Post, my head shook uncontrollably with despair:
Director Zack Snyder’s cerebral, scintillating follow-up to “300” seems, to even a weary filmgoer’s eye, as fresh and magnificent in sound and vision as “2001” must have seemed in 1968, yet in its eagerness to argue with itself, it resembles “A Clockwork Orange. Like those Stanley Kubrick films – it is also in part a parody of “Dr. Strangelove” – it transforms each moment into a tableau with great, uncompromising concentration. The effect is an almost airless gloom, but the film is also exhilarating in breadth and depth.”
Really? Comparing Snyder to Kubrick? REALLY? Luckily, my loneliness and horror can be eased by comments like Kenneth Turan‘s in the Los Angeles Times:
Despite being prematurely canonized by the film’s publicity apparatus, Snyder stands revealed here as more of a beginner than a visionary in his uncertain approach to making an on-screen world come alive.
Now I know my comments here will be met with some hostility from the fans of the above-mentioned films, but like I said, I’m just some old fogey complaining about how things were when I was younger. “Back in the day,” as they say.
So I’ll just shut up and go back to my little home theater to take in another viewing of THE CONVERSATION or MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER or POINT BLANK. And maybe I’ll follow those up with some antiquated old-timer fair like BLACK NARCISSUS or THE BIG PARADE. You know, films that were made before the visionaries came along.
If you haven’t yet heard of the Swedish vampire film, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, you will soon. Still enjoying a theatrical run in some major U.S. cities, this spectacular film is set for release on DVD and Blu-ray March 10th. If you get the opportunity to see this wide-screen treat in a theater, do so. If not, put it in your rental queue now.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is a wholly original entry to the genre. Not frightening in the way most vampire films are, RIGHT ONE is more a character-study/romance between two 12 year old kids, both outcasts in their own rights. Directed with grace and elegance by Tomas Alfredson and based on the best-selling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also penned the screenplay), RIGHT ONE understands that a story needs room to breathe. One of the things that most impressed me about this film, in addition to its tone, chilly locals and terrific casting, was the restraint with which Alfredson so economically uses his special effects. The handful that are employed are striking, fluid, and thrillingly effective; they are sparse, simple, and unsettling. Hollywood has a lot to learn from this Swedish storyteller. If only they’d stop blowing things up long enough to take notice. I can already see the American remake with its parade of prosthetic decapitations and its effects-laden finale followed by the requisite double-twist ending and cheap pre-credit scare. No such excesses here. While certainly gory at times (hey, it’s a vampire flick), RIGHT ONE never forgets the story it aims to tell and the audience it aims to tell it to. I’m honored to have been a member of that audience.