Back in August, the millennial-targeted TV station, Pivot, starting airing reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but in a HD/widescreen version. The series which was first framed for TVs of its original slayer generation has now been cropped, brightened, and re-colored by 20th Century Fox as an HD/widescreen format. And the one man whose opinion matters most of all in this rework is not happy. Joss Whedon, creator of the cult-classic TV series thinks the widescreen remaster is absolute nonsense.
After the Buffy fanatics started their uproar of complaints, the he beloved director took the stage and tweeted his own, pissed-off response:
And it is that, complete nonsense. Aside from the CGI that change some original effects such as a vamp turning to dust (which in HD looks like smoke) and even the most obvious digital noise reduction that takes away from the dark and gritty nature that I personally prefer, there are three specific issues that are most distracting.
There are many scenes in the remaster that have this pinkish tint over them. The original on the left shows with a darker, creepier color which is super important to the scene because it takes place in a dream in the episode “Nightmares”. With the remaster, using a tint over it, it becomes very white and bland.
Not only is the tinting and coloring off, but also it seems like almost every other scene is far brighter than it should be. This photo is a prime example. This scene in the episode, “Angel”, takes place at night. I mean come on, the brightness completely changes the mood and time of day, not to mention, this is an important scene—Buffy and Angel's first sleepover (Angel on the floor of course).
While this is a bit less of an issue than the first two, it is bothersome. There are some cropping jobs that add things once unseen, and here cut something that does have a place in the scene. It’s small, but seeing Buffy’s hand motions does add to the level of her frustration when talking to Xander in the pilot episode, “Welcome to the Hellmouth.”
The changes are by no means subtle and they are leaving fans of the show very upset. But Whedon always had reason for his choice in a 4:3 format (widescreen is 16:9). When the fourth season of Buffy was released by FOX for the first time it still came in 4:3 format, even though everything else at the time was starting to format for widescreen. Whedon explained his decision by including a personal message with the release that said:
“Adding space to the sides simply for the sake of trying to look more cinematic would betray the very exact mise-en-scene I was trying to create. I am a purist, and this is the purest way to watch Buffy. I have resisted the effort to letterbox Buffy from the start and always will, because that is not the show we shot.”
As as he always is, Joss Whedon was right. We knew it all along, he has reason for all of his decisions, and we are once again reminded to always trust the living legend.