Thursday, June 10, 2010
Shoehorning a classic
I'm reviewing The Bucket List for my website, and as I plopped it into my DVD player yesterday, I came across this ridiculous public service announcement, a "classic" that I'd laughed at many times before.
For those of you who don't want to follow the link to youtube, it's part of the anti-piracy campaign that you've seen running on DVDs before the trailers in recent years. You may remember the other really prominent one, with the overwrought music and the grainy images of shady customers buying shady videos from shady street vendors. ("You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a purse," etc.)
The absurd thing about this particular one is that it uses famous scenes from Casablanca -- scenes whose dialogue has nothing whatsoever to do with pirating DVDs.
That should be perfectly obvious, Vance. Casablanca was made in 1942, and DVDs did not exist until the late 1990s.
Right, but the dialogue doesn't have anything to do with any kind of theft of anything.
Here are the lines from the movie they use:
Bergman: "Richard, we loved each other once. If those days meant anything at all to you--"
Bogie: "I wouldn't bring up Paris if I were you, it's poor salesmanship."
Bogie: "I wouldn't believe you no matter what you told me. You'd say anything now to get what you want."
Bergman: "There's so much at stake, all you can think of is your old feeling."
Bogie: "Go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor."
And here are the title cards in between these quotes, using an incredibly low-rent font that resembles a kids show on Nickelodeon more than one of cinema's most beloved films:
RICK IS REALLY UPSET.
THE WOMAN HE LOVES IS PIRATING DVDS.
NO MATTER HOW YOU SAY IT ...
PIRATING IS STEALING
RICK'S FEELINGS TELL HIM PIRACY IS WRONG.
DEEP DOWN ILSA FEELS IT TOO.
MAKING TIME WITH VICTOR'S GIRL: GOOD
PIRATING DVDs: BAD
Now, other than the fact that Casablanca is one of the most universally recognizable cinematic properties out there, who in their right mind thought that this footage was a logical match for this message?
I'm not opposed in principle to repurposing classic footage like this, as long as the usage of it is clever. But in this case it is beyond lazy. Although I've seen Casablanca only once (for shame), I'm willing to bet that these weren't even the best passages they could have chosen from Casablanca to peddle their anti-piracy message. And surely, other films would have yielded far more relevant results, not to mention having far more easily attainable rights.
It's simply laughable.
Note to self: If you are a Boston fan and are the least bit superstitious, it's probably not a good idea to watch a Jack Nicholson movie on the same day as an important game in the NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers. (Final score: Lakers 91, Celtics 84. D'oh!)