At the risk of sounding like someone complaining that his foie gras is too salty, or that his Cristal isn’t adequately chilled, or that the DBS logo-stitching in my Aston Martin’s driver’s side is too tickly on my back, I’m going to make a complaint about movies that, admittedly, will only affect those who on a truly high-end home theater. (I know, I have so few problems that I am going to complain about the trials and tribulations of watching a movie on our
mid-five near six-figure system…)
The other night we watched Coco Before Chanel, a French film starring Audrey Tautou. (And if you were expecting super cute and fun and quirky Amelie Audrey Tatuou, then lower your sights a shade. Not all the way down to Charlize Theron Monster-level of scary or even Salma Hayek Frida-brow but you get the idea.) Now, I didn’t know the film was going to be subtitled, but that doesn’t really bother me. Maybe it was all the years living in Berekely, but I don’t mind foreign films, and I *hate* dubbed. Even if I don’t understand what the actor is saying — Chinese, French, German, that click-clack language, it doesn’t matter — I want to hear the actor’s voice not some sound stage dub.
What I hate is how some films handle subtitles when they are transferred to the home market for DVD or — more commonly now — Blu-ray release when the movie has a wider-than-wide (2.35-40:1 aspect, or 70 mm, or Scope, pick your favorite techno-term).
Now when you’re watching a movie in the theater and it has subtitles, the text is printed on the film so you can, you know, see it and read it. But when some movies are transferred for the home release, some jizzle-heads take it upon themselves to move the subtitles off the image of the film and place it into the black (letterboxed) area below the film.
Now, for the vast majority of people, this process works absolutely fine. You have a 16×9 shaped TV, and that black area below the picture is just wasted space anyhow, so why not throw some text in it? (I envy you your simple, uncomplicated theater viewing life. I really do.)
But for those of us that have taken our home cinemas to the next level by adding an anamorphic lens system like at a commercial movie theater, this is a real ass bite.