Friday, January 2, 2009

Hollywood Hubris

In Botswana (I’m not sure if this is the same all over) we have loads of Chinese shops. In any Chinese shop you will find a bin of DVDs. There are some moral quandaries about copyright in the Chinese shops. You can buy a DVD for a movie at another shop at about P150, which is a lot of money since minimum wage is about P600. At a Chinese shop you buy a DVD with about 20 movies on for about P30. Because of this I’ve come to a decision. Any local productions should never be bought at the Chinese shops, we have a small market and if the industry is to grow we must be vigilant. As for Hollywood, I don’t think they include us in their market plan, if they did they might have made the DVDs affordable. So we sometimes buy Chinese DVDs of those movies. Yes, I realise my argument is weak- bash me if you must.

Anyway, yesterday my son came home with a Brad Pitt DVD. That is another thing that the Chinese do. They bundle a pile of movies on one DVD. So last night we decided to watch Babel. One thing, though, if you buy these DVD’s you have to accept that they may or may not work and many odd things can happen.

So we start watching the movie and suddenly it cuts away to this deaf, Japanese teenager. We watch for a bit and then decide that the Chinese buggered up as they sometimes do putting a karate clip in the middle etc. and we fast forward through it. We watch some more and there’s the Japanese girl again. We fast forward. Then we’re watching the ‘real movie’ and suddenly the Moroccan goat farmer has a picture of the Japanese girl’s father. Ooops!

It seems that whole Japanese part was actually supposed to be there, it’s part of the movie, though obviously a bit tagged on. We enjoyed the movie just fine without it. So the question begs to be asked- couldn’t they have saved quite a bit (and I’m sure the whole thing cost loads already with Brad Pitt and travelling to Morocco and all- according to Wikipedia it cost $25 million-Yikes!) by doing as we did and cutting the Japanese bit out completely? It just gets you wondering. It added very little to the story. It might have even saved so much money they could produce DVDs that normal people could afford.


groovyoldlady said...

Ah...We can technically affor dvds, but we're too cheap to buy any. ;-) We just borrow the few we do want to see from the library or from friends who have no scruples about spending the money.

However, if we want to, we have many options for renting a film for a dollar or two and taking back a day or two later. Do you not have film rentals in Botswana?

Lauri said...

There used to be those rental stores for videos, when they were around, but I haven't seen them for DVDs, maybe in Gaborone.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about DVD piracy. It is a big problem here too and dare I say it, particularly amongst Chinese retailers.

I think the Japanese girl was odd in Babel too, although I suppose she was crucial to the story as it was her father who gave the Moroccan goat farmer the gun that shot Cate Blanchett. It was a very complicated plot but a very moving movie. I liked the Mexican connection. Alarming and thought-provoking stuff.

Lauri said...

The Mexican part was scary. That whole one silly mistake leads to a nightmare is pretty frightening for someone like me who makes silly mistakes all of the time.

After writing this post and realizing my rationalizing is pretty indefensible, I am vowing not to buy these DVDs anymore. Actually I've never bought one, it's my son and husband. But it's wrong no matter how you try to find a right.