For Chanukah, I got a $25 gift card for Best Buy. Because of the fact that my grandparents were going to be at the Fortunoff in the Source Mall, they offered to get me something on the card. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and told them that I wanted Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, of course. Since it came out, I have been very eager, not just to see the film again, but to check out what it looked and sounded like; the bar was set quite high with the pristine picture and thunderous Dolby EX sound on Chamber of Secrets (although Sorcerer's Stone looks godawful and has a very boring sound mix), and this looked like a nice demo disc (just think of the Quidditch in the storm scene!) in addition to being a very entertaining picture. Just make sure to get the widescreen edition, I emphasized, and printed out a picture of the DVD cover to avoid confusion.
Which one do you think I'm interested in?
Of course, they brought it home, and it was the damn full screen edition.
Now, this isn't a "Oh, those cinematic heathens!" rant. This is a "Whose grandparents are you?" rant. This wasn't too difficult to figure out. I was quite specific in both my verbal and written descriptions... I went so far as to produce visual aids and, most important of all, who the fuck did they think they were buying the goddamn thing for!?!
My hatred of the pan-and-scan process that produces these so-called "full screen" versions of films is the stuff of legend, even within my family. I mean, while all of you were still playing around with your crap-vision VHS tapes* ten years ago, I had already bought a laserdisc player. My primary reason? Letterboxing!
At the time, I would take certain films and compare the VHS pan-and-scan image to the widescreen laserdisc picture in order to demonstrate how much better an overall viewing experience was when the original aspect ratio would be preserved (Star Wars was really useful in this regard), and I bothered everybody with this practice.
When I first got a television with the 16:9 function, I demonstrated it for them. This was one of the greatest things to happen to the film format purist, as it settled the superiority of the widescreen image once and for all by insuring that it would be of much better quality (previous to that, my argument would have gone something like, "but on laserdisc, I have more lines in my 2.35:1 letterboxed image than you have on your entire TV height VHS image" or something like that). I was ecstatic.
Furthermore, as suitboyskin can attest to, I have been known to refer to pan-and-scan editions as "The Stupid People Version" of a movie.
They have not opened the DVD so it can be exchanged for the proper edition, but getting this version defeated the purpose of their offer to get the thing for me in the first place. They were quite eager to see the film, and I was planning to leave the disc with them so they could watch it. Now, however, the title won't be exchanged for a few days, during which time it can't be watched, and when I do the exchange I'll most likely be taking it home with me at the time.
I wouldn't be so pissed if this weren't an option offered to me. An offer is an implication that there would be competence in the execution. I made it abundantly clear that there were two versions of the film on DVD, explained the difference, printed out an image of the one that I wanted, and still ended up with the wrong item. The reason my uncle and aunt gave me the gift-card is because I am notoriously picky about my home video purchases. I am most comfortable doing my own DVD shopping. Don't offer to do something like that for me unless you make sure you get it right. I could care less about most other issues in my life, but when it comes to home video, I'm a purist. Everybody knows this. It's one of my defining characteristics.
For chrissakes, I lived with my grandparents for years, this shouldn't have happened.
Tim is moving tomorrow, so I came over and gave some aid. I'm spending the night here, so I can give Patsy a hand first thing in the morning.
* James Cameron's term, not mine.