It’s no secret Andrei Tarkovksy is my primary influence. I’ve watched his films on beat up 35mm prints, terrible DVD scans, old VHS tape, and even on YouTube. I’ve watched his films over and over again, but I’ve always resisted buying them.
I’m not a collector. I enjoy the ephemeral nature of digital media; it keeps me light on my feet. However, I always promised myself, if high-quality scans of Tarkovksy films were released on a high-definition format, I would buy them. Such scans are the closest I will ever get to watching a first-run 35mm print in the 1970s. Slowly but surely, Tarkovsky films are being released on Blu-ray, ostensibly a great format to showcase this director.
I recently bought a Blu-ray burner to help archive all the smaller films I’ve made over the years. That, in addition to my MacBook’s gorgeous display, convinced me that it was finally time to get the Tarkovksy Criterion scans, Ivan’s Childhood and Solaris, on Blu-ray.
So far, it has been disappointing.
Digital Rights Management, region codes, and giant bickering corporations have all conspired to make it as difficult as possible for me to enjoy the content that I paid for. The MPAA and manufacturers simply don’t get it. In the 21st century, they need to make it easier for paying customers, not more difficult.
I’ve lived through all sorts of asinine copy protection. The original SimCity included a challenge-response sheet that made it impossible to photocopy, and nearly impossible to read. I still have music in my iTunes library that has to be registered when moved to a new machine. I’ve even dealt with rare VHS tapes that were nearly impossible to dub, even for my own collection.
In the end, I’ve always been able to somehow use or enjoy the content I’ve bought. But this is different. My best option is to rip these playable Blu-rays that do not play on a Blu-ray player that otherwise works perfectly on my Macintosh.
But that isn’t really ideal. Had I wanted that experience, and to exert that extra time and effort, I wouldn’t have bought the Blu-rays. Lesson learned: next time, pirate or stream.