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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Take a loopy movie and make it even loopier

I had another really bad idea a couple of days ago. I was thinking about how certain movies become favorites, and you can't help but wind up learning all of the lines. Before long, you're practically performing the movie along with the characters. Any one person might only have one or two cherished movies "burned in" this way, but to them, they are very special.

What might be interesting would be to throw them off. Usually, watching a movie on TV will throw a good couple of monkey wrenches into the works, both due to censoring and also editing for time. Not all edits make the movie shorter -- some actually seem to add "new" footage to stretch it out. A longer movie means more opportunities for ad breaks, right?

Eventually, the most hard-core fan will get used to the better known edits like "yippie ki-yay, major falcon" and the whole thing about "monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane". What I'm talking about is to give them a situation where they won't see it coming, and then be rather subtle about it.

This would work by reordering scenes, and occasionally swapping in alternate takes. It could all be done through the magic of DVD. I think there are ways to have different "routes" through a DVD depending on options which were chosen at the beginning of the movie. I know I've seen some which offer "play original cut" and "play with deleted scenes re-added" over the years.

So the question is: would it be possible to make the disc grab a random number somehow and then have it use that to mix up playback? It would be pretty amazing if so.

It might be a little bit like some of those old gag records. A few of the records made over the years actually had multiple grooves instead of just the one, and depending on where you dropped the needle, you'd get one or the other. I understand that while some of them were straightforward and obvious such that you'd realize the difference right away, others were subtle about it and would only have slight differences later in the song.

I was inspired by a re-watch of Primer which is well known as a totally loopy movie. The first time I saw it, I had no idea what was going on when it was all over. On my second time through, it almost seemed to make sense by the end. At first I wondered if that meant I "got it".

Then, later, doubt started creeping in. What if I didn't actually get it this time? Maybe I was actually confident in an understanding which did not exist. While pondering that conundrum, my thoughts turned to those of prankster-level evil: how might one intentionally mess up viewers?

Just imagine it: a movie as loopy as Primer, but with DVD mastery hacks which deliberately make it move scenes around and create new paths through the movie every time you watch it. Then, release it and don't tell anyone about it. See how long it takes for people to come up with their own theories of what happened, and then watch the flame wars erupt online as they argue with each other.

The best part will be when someone goes to refer back to their own copy and finds it subtly different. At first, they'll think they're going crazy. Eventually, someone sufficiently nerdy will dissect the DVD itself and will find the "code" which makes it all happen.

Maybe this has already happened, and there's some quirky DVD release of a movie out there, subtly messing with viewers every time they press play.

Which version will you get this time?