Postulating & Pontificating: The Bare Supplements

When a movie just isn’t good enough!

A quick introduction to what I am hoping will be an, at the very least, occasional segment on Bill’s Movie Emporium. I’ve long kept my blog to movie reviews and movie reviews only. Last year I started reviewing film related podcasts, but the blog was still centered around movie reviews. That isn’t going to change, Bill’s Movie Emporium is first and foremost a home for my film reviews, because that is my hobby and my passion. However, I’ve been toying with the idea of adding a column to the blog that would consist of my opinions on various issues within the world of film and movie watching. I’m not sure if this will work, but it’s worth the attempt I think. Either way, it’s here and I’m going to give it a go. Hopefully my readers, as well as those who only pop in to tell me how stupid I am, will enjoy this occasional Friday feature.

“The artwork for Three Outlaw Samurai definitely makes up for the lack of supplements.”

The above quote comes from Ryan Gallagher’s Twitter account. Mr. Gallagher is the host of The Criterion Cast, a film enthusiast, and an all around great guy. It’s because of my exposure to guys like Mr. Gallagher, as well as my continued explorations into the world of film related podcasts, that I have begun to think more and more about the idea of supplements. However, before I plunge headfirst into my opinions on the issue a quick rundown of supplements is in order.

Take a look at the back cover of any DVD or BD you own, or just go to the main menu of any of those same DVDs or BDs. Most films have a section called “Special Features,” and this is the home of the supplements. In this section you’ll see options for commentaries on the film, TV and theatrical trailers for the film, deleted scenes, outtakes, cast & crew interviews, documentaries, and more. These are the supplemental features as in they supplement the main reason to purchase a DVD/BD, the film itself. There are also DVD/BD releases that are referred to as bare bones because they feature either no supplements or only a few throw away supplements. That’s about the most that is needed to be known about supplements in order to understand the opinion I am about to give.

The reason I supplied the quote from Mr. Gallagher is because he is a man who loves supplements. His podcast, The Criterion Cast, spends a lot of time talking about supplements. He represents a large portion of the cinephile population, the portion who aren’t happy with just getting the movie on DVD/BD. The movie isn’t enough for them, they need the extra oomph that the supplements provide to make their purchase of a given DVD/BD feel like money well spent. Or maybe they don’t, I’m not them and I don’t lay claim to understanding the minds of others.

I am content with just the movie and the movie alone. Supplements don’t matter to me and I don’t see a time when they ever will. It’s cool that a company like The Criterion Collection puts so much time and effort into making sure their customers usually have a load of supplements to choose from on any of their DVD/BD releases. As much as I admire The Criterion Collection’s efforts in that regard, I don’t need supplements. When The Criterion Collection comes out with a BD version of The Lady Vanishes I only care that I am getting a higher quality transfer of a film I love. Truth be told I will most likely never check out the supplements on the company’s BD release of that film. The one obvious exception being the inclusion of another full length feature or short film. Those I will seek out on any given disc, but even still they aren’t something I need on a DVD or BD.

That doesn’t mean that I think that supplements are useless. They aren’t for me, but that is much different than supplements being useless. I perceive that other cinephiles need supplements, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We all look for different things in our movie universes. I love listening to film related podcasts, but I know many others who could care less about listening to other people discuss movies. I am a cinephile who likes to watch movies in their proper aspect ratio and in the best possible transfer of that film. There are others who only want to watch the movie. If it’s in a lesser transfer, the wrong aspect ratio, or on a screen that is super small they don’t care because they are doing what they want to do and watching the movie. My point is that people can love many different aspects of the world of film, that’s one of the greatest aspects of being a cinephile.

As I’ve said a few times, I don’t need supplements, I am happy with a bare bones release of a film as long as the quality of the transfer is good. Yet I know there are oodles of people who love supplements and they give me the impression that they couldn’t live in a film universe where they didn’t have supplemental features to go along with the film itself. I’m happy buying a film because it is the film I want to watch. I won’t even spare a glance at the back cover to see what supplements have been loaded onto the disc. For me the question of to supplement or not to supplement is answered with a resounding, “eh, that’s okay.”


5 responses to “Postulating & Pontificating: The Bare Supplements

  1. Heh, it actually does kind of bumb me out that ‘Three Outlaw Samurai’ is ‘bare-bones.’ Especially from Criterion. That it a little strange…

    I won’t won’t hide the fact that I greatly enjoy supplements. This sort of conversation has been had over at Filmspotting before, but I love to know the context and conditions under which a film is made. It won’t necessarily change my opinion on a movie ( I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like) but added info as to why and how movies turn out the way they do is something I love digging up.

  2. It’s interesting Edgar that in thinking of this topic that is not a train of thought I took into consideration. Supplements as an additional source or knowledge or context about a film are certainly nifty. I have no problem with people watching supplements for any reason, that reason included. I don’t really have an issue with supplements either, my main point was simply that I don’t seek out supplements on DVDs or BDs as they don’t matter to me as much as simply getting a good quality transfer of the film does.

    I do like your discussion point though, so thanks for that. 🙂

  3. I’m a sucker for supplements as long as it’s worth watching. Something that the Criterion Collection often does and with great results.

  4. Indeed, as far as supplements and the overall package of a DVD/BD release goes almost no none does it better than Criterion.

  5. Pingback: Ryan’s Criterion Link Collection For February 6, 2012 | CriterionCast

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