Getting a Ministry Fix + Home Video News
It’s been probably 20 years since I last heard anything by industrial metal band Ministry, and while I might recognize certain songs, I’ve an even lesser impression of the band’s musical catalogue – meaning besides a few lengthy 12” singles from high school years, I know little else of the group who pioneered an edgy, industrial sound which proved highly influential.
Douglas Freel’s 2011 documentary Fix / aka Fix: The Ministry Movie [M] (Gigantic Pictures / CAV) doesn’t aim to explain the band nor provide more theoretical examples of how it changed rock (that’s left up to the interviewees), but it sure give a vivid look into the controlled chaos of a band with a serious following tours Europe and North America.
The central figure is founder & singer Al Jourgensen, and it takes a while to see beyond the backstage antics and appreciate the skill of Ministry as a band still doing its thing. Because Fix isn’t a concert film, the stage performances are restricted in length, and most footage (reportedly shot during the 1996 Sphinctor Tour) is intercut with various interview clips from a substantive group of colleagues from bands Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Motorhead, and Skinny Puppy, to name a few.
One gets the sense this doc was a true labour of love for director Freel, shaping the work over time and wrangling with various rights issues to ensure the film would get wide distribution. It’s a commendable work that possibly shows the rawest behind-the-scenes moments within a rock doc and remains coherent and informative.
Related bits of home video news:
DVD Savant reports KINO Lorber, who recently acquired a spate of Jean Rollin films from Redemption, also has a few Mario Bava flicks in the works for similar DVD and Blu-ray runs in September, including Black Sunday (1960) and Hatchet for a Honeymoon (1970). Don’t junk your Anchor Bay Bava boxes yet, as you never know if there will be differences in extras and transfer issues.
And about a week prior to the release of Ridley Scott’s unnecessary Alien prequel Prometheus, the Digital Bits noted pre-orders on the film’s Blu-ray edition were possible at Amazon.com. Scott’s film has been received with more than mixed reviews. Besides being perceived as a convoluted retread of the first film, some peeved veteran fans also detest Prometheus because of the film’s discontinuous look: the world preceding Alien is weirdly nicer, cleaner, and far more advanced than the clunky functional tech that remained consistent in the first film and all sequels. Did Humanity suffer a technological aneurism?
In a Q&A with Collider, Scott’s ‘hinted’ that the home video release “might” include 20-30 mins. of deleted footage. This is actually quite typical of the director, delivering one version to cinemas, and a longer edit for home video.
Scott may be a pioneer in the realm of expanded home video versions, using the two-version / two-release strategy to guarantee his version is given a guaranteed commercial release, but on which edit should filmgoers spend their money? Why can’t he decide on a final cut before a film hits theatres? And does he regard a movie as a work in need of revisiting to correct hasty decisions when under the duress of a looming release date & other factors?
The problem with mucking around with a film – good or bad – goes beyond the obvious double-dipping (unless the home video version offers a seamless branching / double version package). Kingdom of Heaven in its long-form version is superior to the shorter edit, but Alien was ruined when a generally perfect movie was tweaked with scenes shorn for good reason.
The sense is Scott perhaps felt some edits were badly calculated, but there’s also the issue where a weak script won’t be fixed by adding material to improve its flow. A classic example is The Lawnmower Man – a generally dull film which was still pretty dull when expanded on video, but made more sense and felt less dramatically jerky.
Scott has clout – Gladiator, the first film to which he imposed the expanded release nonsense, earned huge monies in cinemas and video – so it seems tough to believe the shorter version of Prometheus exists because of studio pressure. The final say, like the recutting of Legend, was his, and the inability to settle on a final version likely rests with Scott.
Lastly, Twilight Time’s published a tally of their Sept. / Oct. Blu-ray titles, which include The Sound and the Fury (1959), Steel Magnolias (1989), Enemy Mine (1985), and Night of the Living Dead (1990) – Tom Savani’s underrated remake of George Romero’s 1968 classic. Hopefully TT will retain the extras from the long OOP DVD, including director’s audio commentary and making-of featurette.