I didn’t know what to think when I first saw the trailer for “High Tension.” After doing some research on the film, however, I realized it was an older movie I had been wanting to see for quite some time but had forgotten about. Our local mall, which is where horror movies and any films starring a black actor are relegated to, was showing it, and I became pretty jazzed at the prospect of checking it out opening weekend. Or at least that was the case until I talked to someone involved with the theatre that was showing the French horror flick.
The man and I were talking about how excited we were to see this film, which had gotten great reviews when it was released a few years ago in other countries. We were both up for a good slasher film that looked like it was pretty no-holds-barred, and this fit the bill. Then he dropped a bombshell on me.
“The version we’re getting here isn’t the NC-17 one. It’s
R, and it’s dubbed,” he told me.
I was livid.
I can kind of understand the dubbing, though I think it’s inexcusable. Just because a lot of Americans can’t/don’t read doesn’t mean we should dumb things down for them. And then there’s the annoying thought that most of them wouldn’t want to see this movie anyway; the studio was catering to a nonexistent audience. But what really got me was that we were getting the R version instead of the NC-17 one.
“Well,” I told him, “at least the children will be safe.” For the rest of the day I stewed on my bitterness. Did I want to see a cut version of a film when an uncut version was floating around? And what about the dubbing? Once again, dumb Americans spoil a good thing. The main question came down to: Did I want to spend my money and time seeing an inferior version of a film when I knew there was a better version out there?
I went online to a site I order foreign films from and bought the two-disc special edition DVD, which has been out for a while now. (Actually, there are a few versions available from different countries, but the one I found had a cut and uncut version of the film complete with subtitles, which is exactly how I wanted to watch this movie.) I decided that the American studio releasing the film would not be rewarded for its stupidity, and I watched “Haute Tension” five days after it opened in the comfort of my own home with no cell phones going off, no idiots talking about an actress’ “nice tits,” and no strange body odors from the slug two rows away. It was a beautiful viewing experience, and I must say I was pretty pleased with the film (regardless of the twist ending that comes damn close to ruining a good thing). I also had fun guessing what had to be cut out because it would give Americans eye cancer.
When I told people I wasn’t watching the film in theatres and had instead purchased a foreign DVD, they all expressed the fact that I was crazy. “Why not just watch it in the theatre and then get the director’s cut on DVD when it comes out?” they asked.
The reason is actually pretty simple. When there are two versions of a film out there, I am not going to see the one that has been cut. I will only pay to see the one that is in the “purer” form. I’ll let others waste their time and money for inferior dubbing and scenes excised in order to protect their delicate sensibilities. I won’t stand for it myself, though, because I don’t need protection, and I’m sure as hell not going to pay for it.
Maybe I’m going overboard. After all, I could’ve paid six dollars and saw a dubbed, cut version instead of paying nearly thirty dollars for the director’s vision of the film. The money doesn’t matter, though. It’s about principles and not letting a group of “concerned” mommies and daddies dictate what I watch. It’s about seeing a film the way it was meant to be seen, not the version made to appease lazy Americans. If you want to see a “cleaned up” version of a film, that’s fine, but I have more respect for the art of filmmaking than that.
I’ve always believed in voting with my money, and that really is the only thing Hollywood understands. If you feel the same way, and I hope at least some of you do, you’ll seriously consider doing the same thing with other movies that come out down the road. If more people did that, this sort of thing would never happen, and I wouldn’t have to rant about it in my column. On second thought, thanks for being idiots. You’ve given me yet another chance to add a nail to your collective coffin.
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Posted on July 7, 2005 in Features by Doug Brunell
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