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A Commentary on Commentaries

4 Oct, 2004 By: Stephanie Prange

When I finish watching a DVD, especially one that I really like, I go right to the extras and often watch most — if not the whole — film again with the commentary. Certainly, this is a time-consuming process. Am I the only one hooked on commentaries? I doubt it.<

This may be a shock to those directors who like to do off-the-cuff commentaries, rambling as they watch the film. Many, no doubt, think no one is listening. But I am, and so are many others.

For films such as JFK, in which the filmmakers' reasoning behind each shot is integral to the plot, the commentary can be almost as illuminating as the film itself. But I even listen to commentaries on no-nonsense action films, such as The Day After Tomorrow, in which filmmakers spend their time discussing how each shot is set up and executed.

That's why it's very refreshing to hear a filmmaker talk about taking some time with his commentary. After all, it will be recorded for posterity (barring any 10th, 20th, 25th, etc., editions). I was gratified to learn in reading an interview with Frank Darabont, writer/director of The Shawshank Redemption, in this week's magazine that he took some care in crafting his commentary for the 10th anniversary edition.

“If somebody's been interested in listening to what I have to say about this movie and waiting for 10 years, I want to make it of value,” he said, noting that he spent a week recording and rerecording his commentary.

I think that's a great policy because — believe it or not —£many are listening.

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