Something Old, Something New

Jun 13, 2008

Spring is ready to surrender to summer here in the Big Apple, and in keeping with my intentions, I sat down and watched The Love Parade and Monte Carlo from the Lubitsch Musicals Eclipse set. I found them to be as funny and uplifting as I had hoped, and they made a great Mother’s Day present too!

Shortly after watching those films, I transcribed the play La ronde and couldn’t help but notice how the human behavior in the Lubitsch films and La ronde (from the early twentieth and late nineteenth centuries, respectively) is essentially the same as that in twenty-first-century entertainment. Whether it is the queen of Sylvania hiking her skirt up above the knee in front of her cabinet or a Miami party girl answering the door sans half her bikini, the look on the faces of the queen’s (male) advisers is the same one Harold and Kumar wear as they arrive at the party. In Schnitzler’s romp-filled La ronde, the count announces: “Pleasure. Intoxication. Fine. No complaints. You can depend on them.” And the actress to whom he is speaking later replies, “Count, you are a poseur.” Those lines of dialogue, after swapping in a few choice synonyms provided by the Urban Dictionary, could fit in seamlessly with the repartee found in The Real World or Flavor of Love.

It’s quite a contrast to sit at the front desk reflecting on the timeless societal and sexual conduct performed for our entertainment while the talk in the hallways and at the “gathering places” of the office (of which the front desk is one) is mainly about things that have never been seen before—the newest, “Blu”-est techniques and toys. Soon we’ll be rolling out both fresh and familiar titles in the new high-capacity hotness, with new branding (meaning, I’m sure, new shelving in my living room!).

Yet despite the new image—on the HDTV screen as well as the disc packaging—the essence of what we’re doing remains the same. Just as the spectacles we enjoy (or not) at the cinema and on cable are the same old stories presented with new characters and costumes, so too has the spirit of our mission statement endured rewrites, rereleases, and new formats: the goal has always been to gather and present the greatest films in editions of the highest technical quality. And so I reassure myself with the fact that I still have a handle on the fundamentals of our output, even if all the technical terminology flying around lately leaves me looking as bewildered as Prince Otto on his wedding day.