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Sometimes Watching the Making of the Film Is Better Than the Film Itself

4 Mar, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

I admit it: I'm addicted to the requisite bonus material included in most theatrically-based DVD releases.

Last summer, I rented Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can, two 2002 films from Steven Spielberg that offer above-average behind-the-scenes stuff.

Quite by accident — since the discs were difficult to distinguish between — I watched the bonus material DVD from Report and Catch Me prior to the actual movies.

And in the process, I opened a Pandora's box of entertainment that has altered ever since the way I watch home video.

The more of the bonus material I watch, the less I want to watch the actual movies. To be sure, I did watch and enjoy Report, but not so with Catch Me, in which the bonus material actually trumped the movie.

Notably, “Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction,” in which the actual Abagnale sheds light on Leonardo DiCaprio's character that turned manipulation and deception into an art form, and “Deconstructing Minority Report, in which an assembly of scientific minds over a weekend debates the universe Tom Cruise' character “Detective John Anderton” inhabits.

Growing up, I remember my Mom, a voracious reader, used to digest books from the back. She told me it saved time.

I once read an interview with Sean Penn in which he bemoaned the existence of “The making of” specials that regularly sprout on TV prior to launch of a major theatrical release.

Among a plethora of evils, not limited to the assault on the viewer's thought and imagination, Penn believed the TV programs diminished a story's creative process.

And I agree. The reality of filmmaking has superseded a film's intended purpose to tell a story.

Have I become so enamored with this “reality” that the story is immaterial?

I'm afraid so.

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