Audio commentary

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On disc-based video formats, an audio commentary is an additional audio track consisting of a lecture or comments by one or more speakers, that plays in real time with video. Commentaries can be serious or entertaining in nature, and can add information which otherwise would not be disclosed to audience members.

Types of commentary



The DVD
DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

 medium allows multiple audio tracks for each video program. DVD players usually allow these to be selected by the viewer from the main menu of the DVD or using the remote. These tracks will contain dialogue and sound of the movie, often with alternative tracks featuring different language dialogue, or various types of audio encoding (such as Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital is the name for audio compression technologies developed by Dolby Laboratories. It was originally called Dolby Stereo Digital until 1994. Except for Dolby TrueHD, the audio compression is lossy. The first use of Dolby Digital was to provide digital sound in cinemas from 35mm film prints...

, DTS or PCM
Pulse-code modulation
Pulse-code modulation is a method used to digitally represent sampled analog signals. It is the standard form for digital audio in computers and various Blu-ray, Compact Disc and DVD formats, as well as other uses such as digital telephone systems...

). Among them may be at least one commentary track.

There are several different types of commentary. The two main types simply define the length of the commentary rather than the type of content. They are:
  • Partial or scene-specific, which only covers selected scenes of the film. Sometimes these are recorded without the speaker viewing the film and thus the commentator may make more general comments than pointing out specific details.
  • Feature-length or screen-specific, which is recorded in one session: the speakers watch the movie from beginning to end and give their thoughts directly based on what is happening on-screen.


Typically a commentary track will include feature-length commentary from the film's director, cast members, or occasionally writers and producers. Occasionally actors will perform commentary in-character. (In recording sessions with multiple speakers, a designated moderator
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

 may encourage the discussion flow,) Some DVDs include outsider commentary performed by film critics, historians, scholars or fans. In more elaborate productions, multiple speakers from various recording sessions may be edited together for a single audio program.

Some DVDs feature commentaries with on-screen video enhancements, such as telestrator
Telestrator
A telestrator is a device that allows its operator to draw a freehand sketch over a moving or still video image. The telestrator is most famously recognized in sports and weather broadcasts to diagram and analyze sports plays or incoming weather patterns. The talent typically draws on a...

 prompts, (allowing the director or commentator to "draw" on the screen, pointing out specific details), or the Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters is a 1984 American science fiction comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis and follows three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City, who start a...

"video commentary", where one of the subtitle tracks is used to add silhouettes of the speakers in a manner where they seem to be in a theater commenting on the movie as it was screened for them in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999....

. Less common are actual video
Video
Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.- History :...

 commentaries, showing the speakers as they are recording the commentary, requiring separate video tracks.

History of audio commentaries


The value of audio commentaries as a marketing tool was revealed during the heyday of laserdisc
Laserdisc
LaserDisc was a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium. Initially licensed, sold, and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in North America in 1978, the technology was previously referred to interally as Optical Videodisc System, Reflective Optical Videodisc, Laser Optical...

, the laser-based video format produced before the introduction of DVDs. The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection is a video-distribution company selling "important classic and contemporary films" to film aficionados. The Criterion series is noted for helping to standardize the letterbox format for home video, bonus features, and special editions...

 company, for example, produced high-quality "deluxe" editions of classic films on laserdisc, using the best available prints and re-edited versions. These were often very expensive compared to today's DVDs and included bonus material such as trailers
Trailer (film)
A trailer or preview is an advertisement or a commercial for a feature film that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema. The term "trailer" comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a feature film screening. That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the...

, deleted scene
Deleted scene
In Entertainment, especially the film and television industry, Deleted scenes are parts of a film removed or censored from or replaced by another scene in the final "cut", or version, of a film...

s, production stills, behind-the-scenes information, and audio commentaries from the directors
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, producers
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

, cast
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

, cinematographer
Cinematographer
A cinematographer is one photographing with a motion picture camera . The title is generally equivalent to director of photography , used to designate a chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image...

s, editors
Film editing
Film editing is part of the creative post-production process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling...

, and production designers. They were marketed to movie professionals, fans and scholars who were seen as an elite niche of consumers who could afford to pay more for definitive, quality editions. The audio commentaries on laserdiscs were typically encoded on secondary analog tracks which had become redundant, as modern laserdiscs had stereo audio encoded digitally alongside. This is why certain older videodisc players, which pre-date the digital audio standard, are only able to play back analog tracks with audio commentary.

The first audio commentary was featured on the Criterion Collection release of the original King Kong movie
King Kong (1933 film)
King Kong is a Pre-Code 1933 fantasy monster adventure film co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and written by Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman after a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. The film tells of a gigantic island-dwelling apeman creature called Kong who dies in...

, on laserdisc in December 1984. It featured film historian Ronald Haver
Ronald Haver
Ronald Haver was a film historian, preservationist and author. For over twenty years, he was director of Film Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art....

 and his first words were:
The idea for the commentary track arose in the film-to-tape transfer room when laserdisc producers, Peter Crown and Jennifer Scanlin of Romulus Productions, Inc., thrilled by Haver's incredible commentary, suggested to Bob Stein and Roger Smith that this material needed to be included on the disc. They played back the completed movie as Ron watched and ad libbed his comments.

The decline of the laserdisc format and the increasing popularity of DVD was highlighted in the fall of 1997, when simultaneous laserdisc and DVD editions of the movie Contact were released. The former contained one bonus audio commentary track by director, Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis
Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Zemeckis first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of the comedic time-travel Back to the Future film series, as well as the Academy Award-winning live-action/animation epic Who Framed Roger Rabbit ,...

, and producer Steve Starkey. However, the DVD contained two additional, separate audio commentaries (by Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster
Alicia Christian "Jodie" Foster is an American actress, film director, producer as well as a former child actress....

 and the special effects producers), as well as other bonus features. Despite its history with laserdiscs, the idea of audio commentary was still such an uncommon notion that, in its January 1998 review of the Contact DVD, Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

scoffed, "Who in the universe would want to journey through more than eight hours of gassy, how-we-filmed-the-nebulae trivia included in this "Special Edition" disc? Meant to show off DVD's enormous storage capacity, it only demonstrates its capacity to accommodate mountains of filler."

In general, directors are open to recording commentary tracks, as many feel it can be helpful to young filmmakers, or they simply want to explain their intention in making the film. Eli Roth, for example, specifically states on the producer's commentary track for The Last Exorcist, that he and the other filmmakers will offer advice to people interested in making films, as well as film school students. He is a strong proponent of the educational use of audio commentary, having recorded five commentary tracks for his debut, Cabin Fever
Cabin fever
Cabin fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period...

. He also recorded insightful commentary tracks, with Quentin Tarantino, for both Hostel
Hostel
Hostels provide budget oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available...

films, in which the two horror movie fans share film-making anecdotes and offer advice on working in the movie business. Meanwhile, others (such as Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 or David Lynch
David Lynch
David Keith Lynch is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, which has been dubbed "Lynchian", and which is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound...

) feel commentary can de-mystify and cheapen a movie. Director Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 has not recorded commentary tracks for any of his films. He feels that the experience of watching a film with anything other than his intended soundtrack detracts from what he has created. Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

 has a similar lack of enthusiasm for commentaries, stating, "I'm not interested in all that extra stuff. [...] I want my films to speak for themselves. And hopefully they do."

Notable DVD audio commentaries



A number of movies released today feature audio commentaries. While many of them will not hold the interest of the casual viewer, specific releases stand out, mainly those with elements of historical interest or subject-specific information from expert advisors. For example, the inventor of the steadicam
Steadicam
A Steadicam is a stabilizing mount for a motion picture camera that mechanically isolates it from the operator's movement, allowing a smooth shot even when moving quickly over an uneven surface...

, featured throughout the audio commentary track for The Shining
The Shining (film)
The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. A writer, Jack Torrance, takes a job as an...

, discusses his work with the ground-breaking technology in several films leading up to that landmark production. Non-movie buffs may be interested in the anecdotes offered by advisors to the filmmakers, such as the FBI profiler commenting on The Silence of the Lambs (Criterion DVD release). Filmmakers and cast may reveal stories from behind the scenes, explain the process involved in their work, or simply offer additional laughs. Notable audio commentaries include:
  • The science-fiction movie Sunshine
    Sunshine (2007 film)
    Sunshine is a 2007 British science fiction film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland about the crew of a spacecraft on a dangerous mission to the Sun. In 2057, with the Earth in peril from the dying Sun, the crew is sent to reignite the Sun with a massive stellar bomb with the mass...

    (directed by Danny Boyle
    Danny Boyle
    Daniel "Danny" Boyle is an English filmmaker and producer. He is best known for his work on films such as Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Trainspotting. For Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle won numerous awards in 2008, including the Academy Award for Best Director...

    ) contains an audio track with physicist Brian Cox
    Brian Cox (physicist)
    Brian Edward Cox, OBE , is a British particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow and a professor at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at...

    . The author and professor, who served as an advisor on the production, discusses scientific accuracies (and inaccuracies) depicted in the movie.
  • The 2009 Blu-ray edition of the film Galaxy Quest
    Galaxy Quest
    Galaxy Quest is a 1999 science-fiction comedy parody about a troupe of human actors who defend a group of aliens against an alien warlord. It was directed by Dean Parisot and written by David Howard and Robert Gordon. Mark Johnson and Charles Newirth produced the film for DreamWorks, and David...

    includes a tongue-in-cheek trivia commentary called "Galactopedia". Written by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, the Galactopedia purports to be based on Galaxy Quest encyclopedias, technical manuals, and other imaginary books that presumably come from the universe in which Galaxy Quest was a real TV show.
  • The Halestorm Entertainment
    Halestorm Entertainment
    Halestorm Entertainment is a film production and distribution company based in Orem, Utah. It was founded in January 2001 by Kurt Hale and Dave Hunter...

     movie Sons of Provo
    Sons of Provo
    Sons of Provo is a 2004 film written by Peter Brown and Will Swenson, and directed by Will Swenson. It is a mockumentary that portrays the experience of an LDS boy-band named Everclean from formation to resounding success.-Story:...

    features a commentary on the film, and then a commentary on the commentary, where they discuss what they said in the commentary.
  • The DVD release of Ghostbusters
    Ghostbusters
    Ghostbusters is a 1984 American science fiction comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis and follows three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City, who start a...

    contains a "video commentary" track with director Ivan Reitman
    Ivan Reitman
    Ivan Reitman, OC is a Canadian film producer and director. He is known for the comedies he has directed and produced, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.He is the owner of The Montecito Picture Company, founded in 2000.-Early life:...

    , writer/star Harold Ramis
    Harold Ramis
    Harold Allen Ramis is an American actor, director, and writer, specializing in comedy. His best-known film acting roles are as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters and Russell Ziskey in Stripes , both of which he also co-wrote...

    , and associate producer Joe Medjuck
    Joe Medjuck
    Joseph Medjuck is a Canadian-born film producer in Hollywood.Medjuck was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He is a graduate of McGill University, and the University of Toronto where he also taught for twelve years...

    . Silhouettes of the trio were added to the picture using one of the subtitle tracks, in a manner that made it seem as if they were sitting in a theater commenting on the movie as it was screened for them. This was seen as a homage to (or imitation of) Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999....

    . In some scenes, arrows, lines, or circles may be drawn onto the screen to highlight things the directors are talking about. The DVD releases of Men in Black
    Men in Black (film)
    Men in Black is a 1997 science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and Vincent D'Onofrio. The film was based on the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, originally published by Marvel Comics. The film featured the creature effects...

    and Muppets from Space
    Muppets from Space
    Muppets from Space is a 1999 science fiction comedy film and the sixth feature film to star The Muppets, and the first since the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson to have an original Muppet-focused plot. The film was directed by Tim Hill, produced by Jim Henson Pictures, and released to theaters...

    had similar features.
  • The DVD release of Fantasia
    Fantasia (film)
    Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. The third feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are...

    features two separate commentaries: one by Roy E. Disney
    Roy E. Disney
    Roy Edward Disney, KCSG was a longtime senior executive for The Walt Disney Company, which his father Roy Oliver Disney and his uncle Walt Disney founded. At the time of his death he was a shareholder , and served as a consultant for the company and Director Emeritus for the Board of Directors...

    , James Levine
    James Levine
    James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist. He is currently the music director of the Metropolitan Opera and former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Levine's first performance conducting the Metropolitan Opera was on June 5, 1971, and as of May 2011 he has...

    , John Canemaker
    John Canemaker
    John Cannizzaro Jr. , better known as John Canemaker, is an independent animator, animation historian, author, teacher and lecturer. In 1980, he began teaching and developing the animation program at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts', Kanbar Institute of Film and Television Department...

    , and Scott MacQueen; and a second by Walt Disney
    Walt Disney
    Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...

    , created using audio clips of interviews and a voice actor reading his production meeting notes, hosted by Canemaker. When its sequel, Fantasia 2000
    Fantasia 2000
    Fantasia 2000 is a 1999 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was the 38th feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and a sequel to 1940's Fantasia...

    , was released on DVD, it also included two separate audio commentaries: One featuring Roy E. Disney, Levine, and Canemaker, and the other featuring commentary on each of the separate segments of the film by the directors and art directors of each segment. For the sections starring Mickey Mouse
    Mickey Mouse
    Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...

     ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice") and Donald Duck
    Donald Duck
    Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Productions and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie. Donald is most...

     ("Pomp and Circumstance"), voice actors Wayne Allwine
    Wayne Allwine
    Wayne Anthony Allwine was an American voice actor, a sound effects editor and foley artist for The Walt Disney Company. He was born in Glendale, California. He was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years, narrowly the longest to date, and was married to voice actress Russi Taylor.Allwine was the...

     and Tony Anselmo
    Tony Anselmo
    Tony Anselmo is an Animator, cartoon voice actor and, since 1985, the voice of Donald Duck. Anselmo was trained by the original voice of Donald, Clarence Nash. Anselmo has also shared voice-over duties for Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie since 1999. He voiced the nephews on Mickey...

     were used to make it seem as though Mickey and Donald were providing their own commentary on their appearances in the film.
  • The DVD releases for Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Special Edition)
    Atlantis: The Lost Empire
    Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. Written by Tab Murphy, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and produced by Don Hahn, it is the first science fiction film in the Disney animated features canon and the 41st overall. The film...

    , Treasure Planet
    Treasure Planet
    Treasure Planet is a 2002 animated science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, and released by Walt Disney Pictures on November 27, 2002...

    and Finding Nemo
    Finding Nemo
    Finding Nemo is a 2003 American comi-drama animated film written by Andrew Stanton, directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar. It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish Marlin who, along with a regal tang called Dory , searches for his abducted son Nemo...

    contained specially-edited "video commentaries"; the feature-length audio commentaries by the directors and producers were punctuated by cues to video segments illustrating various behind-the-scenes aspects. Similarly, in several commentaries on the first season of Lost
    Lost (TV series)
    Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

    , the commentators would actually stop the episode's progress and play behind-the-scenes clips, continuing to talk over the footage.
  • The DVD release of the third season of How I Met Your Mother
    How I Met Your Mother
    How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom that premiered on CBS on September 19, 2005, created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays.As a framing device, the main character, Ted Mosby with narration by Bob Saget, in the year 2030 recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to his meeting...

    includes a commentary by Jason Segel and Chris Harris for the episode "The Chain of Screaming
    The Chain of Screaming
    "The Chain of Screaming" is the 15th episode in the third season of the television series How I Met Your Mother and 59th overall. It originally aired on April 14, 2008.- Plot :...

    ". Harris, a writer on the show, did not write this particular episode, but was included in the commentary at the request of Segel, who spent the majority of the commentary intoxicated and in only his boxers. Segel at one point places 12 condoms on the table between the two and spends the majority of the commentary insinuating a relationship between him and Harris, much to Harris' chagrin.
  • The 2000 DVD of This Is Spinal Tap
    This Is Spinal Tap
    This Is Spinal Tap is an American 1984 rock musical mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner about the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap...

    features a commentary by the three members of the band, in character. They relate how they felt slighted by the film, and how the director (Marty di Bergi in the film) did a "hack job" with the documentary. The commentary is another added element to the fiction of the band. Actors Michael McKean
    Michael McKean
    Michael John McKean is an American actor, comedian, writer, composer and musician, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Squiggy's friend, Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski, on the sitcom Laverne and Shirley; and for his work in the Christopher Guest ensemble films, particularly as David St...

    , Christopher Guest
    Christopher Guest
    Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest , better known as Christopher Guest, is an American screenwriter, composer, musician, director, actor and comedian. He is most widely known in Hollywood for having written, directed and starred in several improvisational "mockumentary" films that...

     and Harry Shearer
    Harry Shearer
    Harry Julius Shearer is an American actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radio host and director. He is known for his long-running role on The Simpsons, his work on Saturday Night Live, the comedy band Spinal Tap and his radio program Le Show...

     had previously recorded a commentary for a Criterion Collection DVD which had gone out of print. Similarly, the DVD of series 1 of the BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     sitcom I'm Alan Partridge
    I'm Alan Partridge
    I'm Alan Partridge is a BBC situation comedy starring Steve Coogan, of which two series of six episodes each were produced — the first in 1997 and the second in 2002...

    features commentary from the characters of Alan and his assistant, Lynne. Like Spinal Tap
    Spinal Tap (band)
    Spinal Tap is a parody heavy metal band that first appeared on a failed 1979 ABC TV sketch comedy pilot called "The T.V. Show", starring Rob Reiner...

    , Alan is heard to be frustrated at how the show makes him appear.
  • The Ultimate Matrix Collection
    The Ultimate Matrix Collection
    The Ultimate Matrix Collection is a multi-format release featuring all the titles in the Matrix series, as well as several hours of special features, spread over 10 discs on standard-def DVD, 5 discs on HD DVD, and 7 discs on Blu-ray....

    , a box set of the entire Matrix trilogy, has two audio commentaries on each film — one by philosophers who loved it (Dr. Cornel West
    Cornel West
    Cornel Ronald West is an American philosopher, author, critic, actor, civil rights activist and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America....

     and Ken Wilber
    Ken Wilber
    Kenneth Earl Wilber II is an American author who has written about mysticism, philosophy, ecology, and developmental psychology. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998, he founded the Integral Institute, for teaching and applications of Integral theory.-Biography:Ken Wilber was...

    ), and one by critics who hated it (Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson
    David Thomson (film critic)
    David Thomson is a film critic and historian based in the United States and the author of more than 20 books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.-Career:...

    ).
  • The commentary on Trey Parker
    Trey Parker
    Trey Parker is an American animator, screenwriter, director, producer, voice artist, musician and actor, best known for being the co-creator of the television series South Park along with his creative partner and best friend Matt Stone.Parker started his film career in 1992, making a holiday short...

    's Cannibal! The Musical
    Cannibal! The Musical
    Cannibal! The Musical is a 1993 independent film directed by co-creator of South Park, Trey Parker, while studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder...

    (aka Alferd Packer
    Alferd Packer
    Alfred G. "Alferd" Packer was an American prospector who was accused of cannibalism during the winter of 1873-1874. First tried for murder, Packer was eventually sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter...

    : The Musical
    ) is notable in that the commentators — cast and crew — start out sober at the beginning. As the movie progresses, the group drinks and gets more and more inebriated. A similar commentary, featuring many of the participants from that commentary, was recorded for Orgazmo
    Orgazmo
    Orgazmo is a 1997 comedy film written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the animated series South Park, and directed by Parker.-Plot:...

    .
  • The fourth, fifth and sixth season box sets of The Simpsons contain special "illustrated commentaries" on selected episodes, where two animation director
    Animation director
    An animation director is the director in charge of all aspects of the animation process during the production of an animated film or animated segment for a live-action film...

    s draw on screen while commenting on the episode. This is achieved by using subtitle data to produce the drawings overlaid on top of the video in sync with the audio commentary track.
  • The Simpsons and Futurama
    Futurama
    Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

    , both Matt Groening
    Matt Groening
    Matthew Abram "Matt" Groening is an American cartoonist, screenwriter, and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama....

     creations, are among the few TV series to have audio commentary tracks on every episode in their season box set DVD releases. For Futurama, the commentators point out who voiced minor characters. The actors for these characters are otherwise unlisted in the ending credits. Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    , Mr. Show
    Mr. Show
    Mr. Show with Bob and David is an American sketch comedy series featuring former Saturday Night Live writer/actor Bob Odenkirk and stand up comedian/actor David Cross...

    , Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who also wrote the first six series...

    , volumes 4 and onwards of Family Guy
    Family Guy
    Family Guy is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian...

    , the first season sets of Twin Peaks
    Twin Peaks
    Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. The series follows the investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper , of the murder of a popular teenager and homecoming queen, Laura Palmer...

    , The Shield
    The Shield
    The Shield is an American television drama series starring Michael Chiklis which premiered on March 12, 2002 on FX in the United States and concluded on November 25, 2008 after seven seasons...

    and Goodnight Sweetheart
    Goodnight Sweetheart
    Goodnight Sweetheart is a sitcom that ran for six series on BBC1 from 1993 to 1999. It stars Nicholas Lyndhurst as Gary Sparrow, an accidental time traveller who leads a double life after discovering a time portal allowing him to travel between the London of the 1990s and the same area during the...

    and all episodes and specials of The League of Gentlemen
    The League of Gentlemen (comedy)
    The League of Gentlemen are a quartet of British dark comedy writers/performers, formed in 1995 by Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith...

    are other examples of this.
  • The commentary for Eurotrip
    EuroTrip
    EuroTrip is a 2004 teen comedy film directed by Jeff Schaffer and written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Schaffer. The main plot follows Scotty "Scott" Thomas from Hudson, Ohio who travels across Europe to search for his German pen pal Mieke , whom he initially mistakes for a man named Mike...

    has the writers and director playing a drinking game
    Drinking game
    Drinking games are games which involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages. These games vary widely in scope and complexity, although the purpose of most is to become intoxicated as quickly as possible...

     to their own film, while giving a commentary.
  • When the first season of Veronica Mars
    Veronica Mars
    Veronica Mars is an American television series created by Rob Thomas. The series premiered on September 22, 2004, during television network UPN's final two years, and ended on May 22, 2007, after a season on UPN's successor, The CW Television Network. Veronica Mars was produced by Warner Bros...

    was rushed to DVD so first-time viewers could catch up before the second season began airing in Fall 2005, the creator, Rob Thomas
    Rob Thomas (writer)
    Rob Thomas is an American author, producer, and screenwriter, best known as the author of the 1996 novel Rats Saw God and creator of the critically acclaimed television programs Veronica Mars and Party Down.-Education and early career:Thomas graduated from San Marcos High School in 1983 and went...

    , recorded an audio commentary for the pilot which was a downloadable podcast
    Podcast
    A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

     because there wasn't time to get it on the boxed set.
  • In lieu of recording a commentary himself, Michael Moore
    Michael Moore
    Michael Francis Moore is an American filmmaker, author, social critic and activist. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, which is the highest-grossing documentary of all time. His films Bowling for Columbine and Sicko also place in the top ten highest-grossing documentaries...

     allowed his intern
    Intern
    Internship is a system of onthejob training for white-collar jobs, similar to an apprenticeship. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. They may also be as young as middle school or in...

    s and secretary
    Secretary
    A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

     to record the audio commentary for his documentary Bowling for Columbine
    Bowling for Columbine
    Bowling for Columbine is a 2002 documentary film written, directed, produced, and narrated by Michael Moore. The film explores what Michael Moore suggests are the causes for the Columbine High School massacre and other acts of violence with guns...

    .
  • On the DVD release of Shaun of the Dead
    Shaun of the Dead
    Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 British zombie comedy directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and written by Pegg and Wright. Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather...

    , one (of the four) commentary tracks is given over entirely to a recording of the actors who played zombies in the movie. The first cast audio commentary (including Simon Pegg
    Simon Pegg
    Simon Pegg is an English actor, comedian, writer, film producer, and director. He is best known for having co-written and stared in various Edgar Wright features, mainly Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the comedy series Spaced.He also portrayed Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the 2009 Star Trek film...

    , Nick Frost
    Nick Frost
    Nicholas John "Nick" Frost is an English actor, comedian and screenwriter. He is best known for his work with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg in the role of Mike Watt in the television comedy Spaced, as well as the film characters Ed in Shaun of the Dead, PC/Sgt...

    , Kate Ashfield
    Kate Ashfield
    Kate Ashfield is a British actress, best known for her award-winning roles as Jody in the Anglo-German film Late Night Shopping, as Sadie MacGregor in the British film This Little Life and as Liz in the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead.-Biography:Ashfield was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England...

    , Lucy Davis
    Lucy Davis
    Lucy Clare Davis is an English actress. She is best known for playing the character Dawn Tinsley in the BBC comedy The Office and as Dianne in the horror-comedy movie Shaun of the Dead.-Career:...

     and Dylan Moran
    Dylan Moran
    Dylan Moran is an Irish stand-up comedian, writer, actor and filmmaker. He is best known for his sardonic observational comedy, the UK television sitcom Black Books , and his work with Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run...

    ) also mocks audio commentaries as the cast admit that they almost never listen to them (with Simon Pegg claiming he listens to them when going to sleep), as well as Dylan Moran saying that they simply involve people saying things like "oh, we used a steadi-cam for that one because Roger had a bad knee", and that no-one was interested in hearing it.
  • There is a fake DVD commentary on the DVD of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
    Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
    DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, commonly referred to as simply DodgeBall, is a 2004 American sports comedy film produced by 20th Century Fox and Red Hour Productions, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, and Rip Torn...

    with Rawson Marshall Thurber
    Rawson Marshall Thurber
    Rawson Marshall Thurber is an American writer and director of films and commercials.In 2002, he wrote and directed the original Terry Tate: Office Linebacker commercials for Reebok. In 2004, he wrote and directed the hit comedy film, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.In January 2006, he signed on...

    , Vince Vaughn
    Vince Vaughn
    Vincent Anthony "Vince" Vaughn is an American film actor, screenwriter, producer and comedian. He began acting in the late 1980s, appearing in minor television roles before attaining wider recognition with the 1996 movie Swingers...

     and Ben Stiller
    Ben Stiller
    Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller is an American comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara....

     arguing. 40 minutes into it, all three exit and the commentary is replaced with the audio commentary from There's Something About Mary
    There's Something About Mary
    There's Something About Mary is a 1998 American comedy film, directed by the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter. It stars Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon and Ben Stiller, and it is a combination of romantic comedy and gross-out film....

    . The real audio commentary can be found as an easter egg on the DVD.
  • On the audio commentaries for seasons of The Venture Bros.
    The Venture Bros.
    The Venture Bros. is an American animated television series that premiered on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on February 16, 2003. The series mixes action and comedy together while it chronicles the adventures of the Venture family: well-meaning but incompetent teenagers Hank and Dean Venture; their...

    , Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have conversations that have little to do with the episodes being shown.
  • On the cast and crew commentary for Superbad, Judd Apatow
    Judd Apatow
    Judd Apatow is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is well known for his work in comedy films, especially for films he has been involved with throughout the latter half of the 2000s. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, a film production company that also developed the...

     orders the actors not to swear in front of his nine year old daughter Maude, who is also present for the recording. Actor Jonah Hill
    Jonah Hill
    Jonah Hill Feldstein , known professionally as Jonah Hill, is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and comedian. Hill is best known roles for his roles in Superbad, Knocked Up, and Get Him to the Greek. He made his theatrical debut in I Heart Huckabees, alongside Jason Schwartzman and Dustin...

     restrains himself from cursing until halfway through the movie, and he proceeds to chide Apatow for "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day." After this argument, Apatow and his daughter leave to go attend a showing of the Broadway
    Broadway theatre
    Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

     musical Spamalot
    Spamalot
    Monty Python's Spamalot is a musical comedy "lovingly ripped off from" the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from the film in many ways, especially in its parodies of Broadway theatre...

    , and the remaining cast and crew begin swearing profusely immediately after their departure.
  • The cast commentary of Tropic Thunder
    Tropic Thunder
    Tropic Thunder is a 2008 American action satire comedy film written, produced, and directed by Ben Stiller, and starring Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., and Jack Black. The main plot revolves around a group of prima donna actors who are making a Vietnam War film...

    features Ben Stiller and Jack Black
    Jack Black
    Jack Black , is an American actor and musician, notably of Tenacious D.Jack Black may also refer to:* Jack Black , late 19th - early 20th Century author and hobo* Jack Black , drummer for 1970s UK punk band The Boys...

     as themselves, while Robert Downey, Jr. is in character as Lincoln Osiris, and later Kirk Lazarus, before dropping character at the end. This is a reference to a line spoken in the film by Lazarus: "I don't drop character 'til I've done the DVD commentary."
  • The DVD for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
    Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
    Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a 2008 musical tragicomedy miniseries in three acts, produced exclusively for Internet distribution. Filmed and set in Los Angeles, the show tells the story of Dr...

    contains two commentary tracks; one is a musical in which they sing about each other and the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike
    2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike
    The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, more commonly referred to as simply the Writers' Strike, was a strike by the Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West ....

    .
  • The unrated DVD for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, or simply Anchorman, is a 2004 American comedy film, directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell. The film, which was also written by Ferrell and McKay, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the culture of the 1970s, particularly the then-new Action News format...

    contains a commentary track where the director, Will Ferrell, and David Koechner get into a fight because David thinks he had too little parts in the movie, and Andy Richter and Kyle Gass get into a fight because they didn't get into the movie, leading one of them to punch Will Ferrell in the nose.
  • The commentary track for Step Brothers
    Step Brothers
    Step Brothers may refer to:* A member of a stepfamily*The Four Step Brothers, a South African dance team in the U.S. active from the 1920s through the 1960s*Step Brothers , a 2008 comedy film starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly...

    features director Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly
    John C. Reilly
    John Christopher Reilly, Jr. is an American film and theater actor, singer, and comedian. Debuting in Casualties of War in 1989, he is one of several actors whose careers were launched by Brian De Palma. To date, he has appeared in more than fifty films, including three separate films in 2002...

     doing the bulk of the commentary as a musical performance accompanied by film composer Jon Brion
    Jon Brion
    Jon Brion is an American rock and pop multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, composer and record producer.-Early life:...

     and Los Angeles Clippers
    Los Angeles Clippers
    The Los Angeles Clippers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, United States. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

     player Baron Davis
    Baron Davis
    Baron Walter Louis Davis is an American professional basketball player with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. Drafted as the third pick in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, Davis was a star at Crossroads School and UCLA....

    .
  • The audio commentary for Brother Bear
    Brother Bear
    Brother Bear is a 2003 American animated fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures, the forty-fourth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. In the film, an Inuit boy pursues a bear in revenge for a battle that he provoked in which...

    wasn't by the filmmakers, but the actors Dave Thomas
    Dave Thomas (actor)
    David "Dave" Thomas is a Canadian comedian and actor. He was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, but moved to Durham, North Carolina where his father, John E. Thomas, attended Duke University and earned a PhD in Philosophy. Thomas attended George Watts and Moorehead elementary schools...

     and Rick Moranis
    Rick Moranis
    Frederick Allan "Rick" Moranis is a Canadian comedian, actor, musician, and a magician. Moranis came to prominence in the late 1970s on the sketch comedy show Second City Television, and later appeared in several Hollywood films including Strange Brew; Ghostbusters; Spaceballs; Little Shop of...

     in character as the wise-cracking comical moose, Rutt & Tuke. It is also written as 'hilarious' on the DVD cover.
  • The 2007 DVD for The Fountain
    The Fountain
    The Fountain is a 2006 American romantic drama film, which blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction. It was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starred Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz...

    did not include a commentary track because Warner Bros did not feel that adding one would help sales. However, director Darren Aronofsky
    Darren Aronofsky
    Darren Aronofsky is an American film director, screenwriter and film producer. He attended Harvard University to study film theory and the American Film Institute to study both live-action and animation filmmaking...

     recorded a commentary track on his own and made the track available for free download on his personal website.
  • In the DVD commentary for the first four series of the revived series of Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    , any commentary featuring head writer Russell T Davies would begin with Davies stating "Hello faithful viewer". In one episode commentary he humorously relayed to David Tennant
    David Tennant
    David Tennant is a Scottish actor. In addition to his work in theatre, including a widely praised Hamlet, Tennant is best known for his role as the tenth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, along with the title role in the 2005 TV serial Casanova and as Barty Crouch, Jr...

     that he had received a letter from a viewer asking him to stop doing this.
  • The special edition DVD of Child's Play did not feature any contributions from the director, Tom Holland
    Tom Holland
    Tom Holland may refer to:*Tom Holland , American film director*Tom Holland , British author*Tom Holland , British actor*Tom Holland , English footballer...

    , who claims he was not asked to contribute to it. In response, the website Icons of Fright contacted Holland and asked if he would be willing to record a commentary track that would be free for download on their website. He agreed, and the track is downloadable from here.
  • Similarly, Icons of Fright offers two free downloadable commentaries for Fright Night
    Fright Night
    # "Fright Night" – 3:45# "You Can't Hide from the Beast Inside" – 4:14# "Good Man in a Bad Time" – 3:41# "Rock Myself to Sleep" – 2:57# "Let's Talk" – 2:52# "Armies of the Night" – 4:34...

    , downloadable from here.

Prolific commentators


  • Hong Kong action cinema
    Hong Kong action cinema
    Hong Kong action cinema is the principal source of the Hong Kong film industry's global fame. It combines elements from the action film, as codified by Hollywood, with Chinese storytelling and aesthetic traditions, to create a culturally distinctive form that nevertheless has a wide transcultural...

     expert Bey Logan
    Bey Logan
    Bey Logan is a respected expert on East Asian cinema, particularly Hong Kong action cinema. He is also notable as a screenwriter, film producer and as a martial artist who has had roles in a number of films, including the 2003 Dante Lam film The Twins Effect.He has written two books - Hong Kong...

     was a popular commentator for UK DVD distributors Hong Kong Legends and their sister label Premier Asia. He has recorded over sixty commentaries for Asian films, including Fist of Fury
    Fist of Fury
    Fist of Fury, formerly known as The Chinese Connection and The Iron Hand in the United States, is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Lo Wei. It starred Bruce Lee in his second major film after The Big Boss...

    , Project A
    Project A
    Project A is a 1983 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written and directed by Jackie Chan, and starring Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao....

    and The Young Master
    The Young Master
    The Young Master is a 1980 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by and starring Jackie Chan as Dragon.The film is notable for being the first that Jackie Chan worked on for Golden Harvest, and despite being his second film as director , this is often incorrectly credited as his directorial...

    as well as modern hits Iron Monkey, Musa
    Musa (film)
    Musa , released as both The Warrior and The Ultimate Warrior in English-speaking countries, is a 2001 South Korean epic film directed by Kim Seong-soo, starring Jung Woo-sung, Ahn Sung-ki, Ju Jin-mo and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi...

    and Ong Bak. For the majority of his commentaries Logan was a solo commentator but occasionally he was joined by notable film makers and cast including Tsui Hark
    Tsui Hark
    Tsui Hark , born Tsui Man-kong, is a Hong Kong New Wave film director and producer. He is viewed as a major figure in the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema .-Early life:...

    , Christy Chung
    Christy Chung
    Christy Chung is Chinese-Canadian actress. She was born in Montreal to a Chinese father and a Vietnamese mother.Chung grew up in Brossard, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, with French and Vietnamese as mother-tongues...

    , Donnie Yen
    Donnie Yen
    Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and world wushu tournament medalist...

     and Maggie Q
    Maggie Q
    Margaret Denise Quigley , professionally known as Maggie Q, is an American-born actress and former fashion model. She currently stars as the titular character on the action-thriller TV series Nikita.-Early life:...

    . He left Hong Kong Legends for The Weinstein Co. in early 2006.
  • U.S. film historian Rudy Behlmer
    Rudy Behlmer
    Rudy Behlmer is an American film historian and writer. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, he is an expert in the history and evolution of the motion picture industry....

     has recorded commentaries for many classics of American cinema, most notably Casablanca
    Casablanca (film)
    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in...

    , Gone with the Wind
    Gone with the Wind (film)
    Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...

    , The Adventures of Robin Hood
    The Adventures of Robin Hood (film)
    The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 American swashbuckler film directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley. Filmed in Technicolor, the picture stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains.-Plot:...

    and Frankenstein
    Frankenstein (1931 film)
    Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

    .
  • U.S. film critic Roger Ebert
    Roger Ebert
    Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

     has recorded DVD audio commentaries for many films, including Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Many critics consider it the greatest American film of all time, especially for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles' first feature film...

    , Casablanca
    Casablanca (film)
    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in...

    , Floating Weeds
    Floating Weeds
    is a 1959 film by Yasujiro Ozu and shot in colour by Kazuo Miyagawa, one of Japan's most highly regarded cinematographers. It is a remake of Ozu's own black-and-white silent film A Story of Floating Weeds ....

    , Crumb
    Crumb (film)
    Crumb is a 1994 documentary film about the noted underground comic artist Robert Crumb and his family. Directed by Terry Zwigoff and produced by Lynn O'Donnell and David Lynch, it won widespread acclaim, including both the Grand Jury Prize and best cinematography prize at the Sundance Film Festival...

    , Dark City, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a 1970 American schlock melodrama film starring Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John LaZar, Michael Blodgett and David Gurian...

    (for which Ebert also wrote the screenplay, based on a story that he co-wrote with Russ Meyer). Since losing his ability to speak due to illness, these recordings were also used to supply Ebert's collection of spoken words for his speech synthesizer since the soundtracks of his television show were too contaminated by background noise to use.
  • U.S. film critic Richard Schickel
    Richard Schickel
    Richard Warren Schickel is an American author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. He is a film critic for Time magazine, having also written for Life magazine and the Los Angeles Times Book Review....

     has recorded DVD audio commentaries for many classic films, including Double Indemnity, Whirlpool, Side Street, Strangers on a Train
    Strangers on a Train (film)
    Strangers on a Train is an American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot in the autumn of 1950 and released by Warner Bros. on June 30, 1951. The film stars Farley Granger, Ruth Roman,...

    , On the Waterfront
    On the Waterfront
    On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

    , East of Eden, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles. The screenplay was written by Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni and Leone, based on a story by Vincenzoni and Leone...

    , Ryan's Daughter
    Ryan's Daughter
    Ryan's Daughter is a 1970 film directed by David Lean. The film, set in 1916, tells the story of a married Irish woman who has an affair with a British officer during World War I, despite opposition from her nationalist neighbours...

    , Dirty Harry
    Dirty Harry
    Dirty Harry is a 1971 American crime thriller produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan....

    , The Big Red One
    The Big Red One
    The Big Red One is a World War II war film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, it was produced by Lorimar and released by United Artists in the US on July 18, 1980...

    , Once Upon a Time in America
    Once Upon a Time in America
    Once Upon a Time in America is a 1984 Italian epic crime film co-written and directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. The story chronicles the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence in New York City's world of organized crime...

    , and Unforgiven
    Unforgiven
    Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming...

    .
  • U.S. writer and director Peter Bogdanovich
    Peter Bogdanovich
    Peter Bogdanovich is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino, and Francis Ford Coppola...

     has not only recorded commentaries for his own film
    Film
    A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

    s (The Last Picture Show
    The Last Picture Show
    The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry....

    , The Cat's Meow
    The Cat's Meow
    The Cat's Meow is a 2001 drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, and Jennifer Tilly. The screenplay by Steven Peros is based on his play of the same title, which was inspired by the mysterious death of film...

    , Paper Moon
    Paper Moon (film)
    Paper Moon is a 1973 American comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released by Paramount Pictures. The screenplay was adapted from the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown, and the film was shot in black-and-white. The film is set during the Great Depression in the U.S. states of Kansas and...

    ) but has also recorded commentaries for classic U.S. films, including Bringing Up Baby
    Bringing up Baby
    Bringing Up Baby is an American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures....

    , Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Many critics consider it the greatest American film of all time, especially for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles' first feature film...

    , The Lady from Shanghai
    The Lady from Shanghai
    The Lady from Shanghai is a 1947 film noir directed by Orson Welles and starring Welles, his estranged wife Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane. It is based on the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King.-Plot:...

    , and Strangers on a Train
    Strangers on a Train (film)
    Strangers on a Train is an American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot in the autumn of 1950 and released by Warner Bros. on June 30, 1951. The film stars Farley Granger, Ruth Roman,...

    . He also participated in the commentary for the pilot episode of The Sopranos
    The Sopranos
    The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads...

    .
  • Matt Groening
    Matt Groening
    Matthew Abram "Matt" Groening is an American cartoonist, screenwriter, and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama....

    , creator of The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

    , has recorded commentary on most episodes of the show thus far released on DVD — , seasons one through ten — as well as every episode of his other creation, Futurama. , this totals over 250 episode commentaries. He has also provided commentaries on other Simpsons/Futurama related products, such as the music videos on The Simpsons: Season Two DVD. David X. Cohen
    David X. Cohen
    David Samuel Cohen , primarily known as David X. Cohen, is an American television writer. He has written for The Simpsons and he is the head writer and executive producer of Futurama.-Early life:...

    , Groening's co-developer and occasional writer on Futurama, also provided commentary on every episode, as well as several installments of The Simpsons.
  • Film directors Kevin Smith
    Kevin Smith
    Kevin Patrick Smith is an American screenwriter, actor, film producer, and director, as well as a popular comic book writer, author, comedian/raconteur, and internet radio personality best recognized by viewers as Silent Bob...

     and David Fincher
    David Fincher
    David Andrew Leo Fincher is an American film and music video director. Known for his dark and stylish thrillers, such as Seven , The Game , Fight Club , Panic Room , and Zodiac , Fincher received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for his 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and...

     are notable fans of DVD audio commentary, and Fincher's "Platinum Series" release of Se7en
    Se7en
    Seven is a 1995 American thriller film, which also contains horror and neo-noir elements, directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. It was distributed by New Line Cinema and stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R...

    was considered one of the most in-depth DVDs of its time, mainly due to the four audio commentary tracks, all of which feature Fincher, and cover the writing, the cast, the sound design and the cinematography. Another commentary for Se7en was included on the Criterion Collection laserdisc, which included cast member Gwyneth Paltrow
    Gwyneth Paltrow
    Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is an American actress and singer. She made her acting debut on stage in 1990 and started appearing in films in 1991. After appearing in several films throughout the decade, Paltrow gained early notice for her work in films such as Se7en and Emma...

    , but this track has not been released on DVD. Smith's DVD for Clerks II
    Clerks II
    Clerks II is a 2006 American comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, sequel to his 1994 film Clerks, and his sixth and latest feature film to be set in the View Askewniverse...

    features three audio commentaries, all featuring Smith, and he is known for bringing his stars, including Ben Affleck
    Ben Affleck
    Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt , better known as Ben Affleck, is an American actor, film director, writer, and producer. He became known with his performances in Kevin Smith's films such as Mallrats and Chasing Amy...

     and Jason Lee
    Jason Lee (actor)
    Jason Michael Lee is an American actor and skateboarder known for his role as the title character on the NBC television series My Name is Earl, his portrayal of Syndrome in the film The Incredibles, his role as Dave Seville in the Alvin and the Chipmunks films, and his work with director Kevin...

     onto his commentary tracks. Smith has recorded audio commentaries for all of his films except Zack and Miri Make a Porno
    Zack and Miri Make a Porno
    Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a 2008 romantic comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, distributed by The Weinstein Company, and starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. It is Smith's second film not to be set within the View Askewniverse and the first not set in New Jersey. It was...

    , and also appeared on the Road House
    Road House (1989 film)
    Road House is a 1989 American action film partially based on the life of Norman "Storm" Cantwell, directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer at a newly-refurbished roadside bar who protects a small town in Missouri from a corrupt businessman. Sam Elliot also plays a...

    audio commentary after mentioning it on the 10th Anniversary DVD of Clerks
    Clerks
    Clerks is a 1994 independent comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, who also appears in the film as Silent Bob. Starring Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks and Jeff Anderson as Randal Graves, it presents a day in the lives of two store clerks and their acquaintances...

    . Smith has also appeared on the special edition Donnie Darko
    Donnie Darko
    Donnie Darko is a 2001 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell...

    DVD, doing commentary with Richard Kelly. Fincher has recorded a track for all of his films except Alien 3, which he disowned after controversy over the production. Directors Terry Gilliam
    Terry Gilliam
    Terrence Vance "Terry" Gilliam is an American-born British screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Gilliam is also known for directing several films, including Brazil , The Adventures of Baron Munchausen , The Fisher King , and 12 Monkeys...

    , Werner Herzog
    Werner Herzog
    Werner Herzog Stipetić , known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.He is often considered as one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner...

    , Francis Ford Coppola
    Francis Ford Coppola
    Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

    , David Cronenberg
    David Cronenberg
    David Paul Cronenberg, OC, FRSC is a Canadian filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror genre. This style of filmmaking explores people's fears of bodily transformation and infection. In his films, the...

    , Paul Verhoeven and Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Andrew Soderbergh is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and an Academy Award-winning film director. He is best known for directing commercial Hollywood films like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and the remake of Ocean's Eleven, but he has also directed smaller less...

     are also highly respected as intelligent and informative commentators, often working with Criterion to create commentaries for their films. Soderbergh once said about DVD commentaries, "Would I, growing up, like to have had access to stuff on DVDs like this? Oh God, yeah! It's better than any film school, I think."
  • Animation
    Animation
    Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

     historians such as Jerry Beck
    Jerry Beck
    Jerry Beck is a well-known animation historian, with ten books and numerous articles to his credit. He is also an animation producer, an industry consultant to Warner Bros., and has been an executive with Nickelodeon and Disney....

     and Michael Barrier
    Michael Barrier (historian)
    Michael Barrier is an American animation historian. Barrier was the founder and editor of Funnyworld, the first magazine exclusively devoted to comics and animation. It began as a contribution to the CAPA-Alpha amateur press association...

     regularly contribute commentary to selected shorts in DVD packages of animated shorts from the Golden Age of Hollywood, including the Looney Tunes Golden Collection
    Looney Tunes Golden Collection
    The Looney Tunes Golden Collection was an annual series of six four-disc DVD box sets from Warner Bros.' home video unit Warner Home Video, each containing about 60 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts...

    series and the Popeye the Sailor
    Popeye
    Popeye the Sailor is a cartoon fictional character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, who has appeared in comic strips and animated cartoons in the cinema as well as on television. He first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929...

    DVD series.

Alternate commentaries


Originally inspired by a column by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

, a small but active fan base of DVD commentary enthusiasts has sprung up since 2002 offering their own specially-recorded fan-made DVD commentaries. These tracks (usually made available in MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

 format) allow the fans to put forth their own opinions and expertise on a movie or TV series in much the same way as an on-disc commentary. These commentary tracks are played by starting a DVD player with the movie and an MP3 player with the track simultaneously. A substantial community of fan commentators exists, creating many hundreds of downloadable tracks available on the Web.

The idea of downloadable commentary tracks has since been co-opted by TV show creators themselves, as creators of TV shows such as the 2004 Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series)
Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore as a re-imagining of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica television series created by Glen A. Larson...

, Star Trek: Enterprise
Star Trek: Enterprise
Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction television series. It follows the adventures of humanity's first warp 5 starship, the Enterprise, ten years before the United Federation of Planets shown in previous Star Trek series was formed.Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001...

, and the Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

revival have recorded downloadable commentary tracks meant to be watched along with the episodes as recorded from TV.

Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith
Kevin Patrick Smith is an American screenwriter, actor, film producer, and director, as well as a popular comic book writer, author, comedian/raconteur, and internet radio personality best recognized by viewers as Silent Bob...

 recorded a commentary track for Clerks II
Clerks II
Clerks II is a 2006 American comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, sequel to his 1994 film Clerks, and his sixth and latest feature film to be set in the View Askewniverse...

intended for download to an MP3 player for viewing in the movie theater during the movie's first run, coined In-Theater Audio Commentary
In-Theater Audio Commentary
In-Theater Audio Commentary is an idea coined by Kevin Smith of going to see a movie at the theater, and after having downloaded onto one's iPod a podcast of an audio commentary, returning to the theater a second time to watch the movie while listening to the commentary at the same time. As of...

; however, the commentary was not released because theater chains felt it would be distracting to viewers who were not listening to the commentary. This commentary was later included on the Clerks II DVD.

Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999....

head writer and on-screen host Michael J. Nelson
Michael J. Nelson
Michael John Nelson is a U.S. comedian and writer, most famous for his work on the cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 . Nelson was the head writer of the series for most of the show's 11-year run, and spent half of that time playing the on-air host, also named Mike Nelson...

 has started his own website to sell downloadable commentaries called RiffTrax
RiffTrax
RiffTrax are downloadable audio commentaries featuring comedians Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett heckling films in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show in which Nelson was the head writer, and later the host. The RiffTrax are sold online and delivered by digital...

. He also regularly commentates on the public domain films that colorizing company Legend Films releases on DVD, including Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American independent black-and-white zombie film and cult film directed by George A. Romero, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman. It premiered on October 1, 1968, and was completed on a USD$114,000 budget. After decades of cinematic re-releases, it...

and Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness is a well-known 1936 American propaganda exploitation film revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try "marijuana" — from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and descent into madness...

.

Critiques and parodies of the audio commentary


The Audio Commentary has been a subject of discussion among filmmakers. Many directors see them as an unnecessary bonus feature, while others record "fake" commentaries, which may contain false information or inside jokes. Other filmmakers have parodied the commentary concept, as the following examples demonstrate.
  • The Coen Brothers
    Coen Brothers
    Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers...

     movie Blood Simple
    Blood Simple
    Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir crime film. It was the directorial debut of Joel Coen and the first major film of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, who later became a noted director...

    has a fake commentary written by the Coens and read by an actor posing as a film historian. This "historian" Kenneth Loring gives information about the production that almost everyone would recognize as being totally ludicrous. He claims for instance that one the opening scene was shot upside down with the actors saying their lines backwards and that some roles were reserved for Rosemary Clooney
    Rosemary Clooney
    Rosemary Clooney was an American singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the novelty hit "Come On-a My House" written by William Saroyan and his cousin Ross Bagdasarian , which was followed by other pop numbers such as "Botch-a-Me" Rosemary Clooney (May 23, 1928 –...

     and Gene Kelly
    Gene Kelly
    Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer...

    .
  • In an episode of The Simpsons ("The Bart Wants What It Wants
    The Bart Wants What It Wants
    "The Bart Wants What it Wants" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons thirteenth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 17, 2002. In the episode, Bart befriends Rainier Wolfcastle's daughter, Greta...

    "), Bart is watching an Itchy & Scratchy DVD and decides to turn the commentary on. A small box appears at the corner of the screen, showing Scratchy ("We shot this at four in the morning, and the crew was getting a little cranky") and Itchy ("You can never get enough takes for Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Andrew Soderbergh is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and an Academy Award-winning film director. He is best known for directing commercial Hollywood films like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and the remake of Ocean's Eleven, but he has also directed smaller less...

    "); midway through Scratchy's next sentence, Itchy cuts off his head.
  • Welsh
    Wales
    Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

     comedian
    Comedian
    A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

     Rob Brydon
    Rob Brydon
    Rob Brydon is a BAFTA-nominated Welsh actor, comedian, radio and television presenter, singer and impressionist...

     starred in the ITV
    ITV
    ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

     comedy show Director's Commentary
    Director's Commentary
    Directors Commentary was a comedy television series created and written by Paul Duddridge and produced by Miles Ross. It was made by Jones The Film for ITV and broadcast in 2004....

    (2004) in which he played a fictional director, Peter De Lane, and parodied the often conceited and pompous nature of directors when giving DVD commentaries by articulating his thoughts over archive footage. Although the show was well received, it did not sustain viewer interest, and only one six-episode season was produced.
  • The book Speak, Commentary, by Jeff Alexander and Tom Bissell, collects a series of fake audio commentaries purportedly made by well-known American cultural critics and political pundits on popular science fiction and fantasy movies. The contents include Ann Coulter
    Ann Coulter
    Ann Hart Coulter is an American lawyer, conservative social and political commentator, author, and syndicated columnist. She frequently appears on television, radio, and as a speaker at public events and private events...

     on Ridley Scott
    Ridley Scott
    Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. His most famous films include The Duellists , Alien , Blade Runner , Legend , Thelma & Louise , G. I...

    's Alien
    Alien (film)
    Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

    , as well as Noam Chomsky
    Noam Chomsky
    Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

     and Howard Zinn
    Howard Zinn
    Howard Zinn was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United...

     on Peter Jackson
    Peter Jackson
    Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

    's films of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

  • The Adam and Joe Show
    The Adam and Joe Show
    The Adam and Joe Show was a British television comedy show, written and presented by Adam and Joe, that is, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, which ran for four series on Channel 4 between 1996 and 2001...

    parodied audio commentaries in a sketch which stated that audio commentaries often sound like "self indulgent wankers in a pub".

  • Webtoon
    Webtoon
    A webtoon is a less common term used to describe an animated comic strip that is distributed via the internet which are often created by amateur creators. Usually webtoons are drawn in full color and read in one long strip per chapter. They are commonly created using Flash, or a simple image...

     Homestar Runner
    Homestar Runner
    Homestar Runner is a Flash animated Internet cartoon. It mixes surreal humor with references to retro pop culture, notably video games, classic television, and popular music.The cartoons are nominally centered on the title character, Homestar Runner...

     has featured the characters of the H*R universe doing commentaries for many of their cartoons. Most notably The King of Town DVD, In Search of the Yello Dello and the music video for They Might Be Giants
    They Might Be Giants
    They Might Be Giants is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. During TMBG's early years Flansburgh and Linnell were frequently accompanied by a drum machine. In the early 1990s, TMBG became a full band. Currently, the members of TMBG are...

    ' "Experimental Film
    Experimental film
    Experimental film or experimental cinema is a type of cinema. Experimental film is an artistic practice relieving both of visual arts and cinema. Its origins can be found in European avant-garde movements of the twenties. Experimental cinema has built its history through the texts of theoreticians...

    ."

  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, or simply Anchorman, is a 2004 American comedy film, directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell. The film, which was also written by Ferrell and McKay, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the culture of the 1970s, particularly the then-new Action News format...

    contains audio commentary where the actors end up discussing very little of the film's content.

  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
    Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
    Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 American comedy film, directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell. The film also features John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Amy Adams, Gary Cole, Jane Lynch, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Various Saturday Night Live alumni also...

    features a commentary in which director Adam McKay
    Adam McKay
    Adam McKay is an American screenwriter, director, comedian, and actor. He is most famous for his partnership with comedian Will Ferrell, with whom he co-wrote the films Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and The Other Guys....

     fabricates nearly every piece of information about the film, such as the production's move to Brazil, the roles of Walker and Texas Ranger being played by robots, and that the original cut of the film was 9½ hours long and contained a segment of a stick of butter.

  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life features a fake commentary titled "Soundtrack for the Lonely: A Soundtrack for People Watching at Home Alone." It consists of a rather disgusting man played by Mel Smith
    Mel Smith
    Melvin Kenneth "Mel" Smith is an English comedian, writer, film director, producer, and actor. He is most famous for his work on the sketch comedy shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones along with his comedy partner Griff Rhys Jones.- Early life :Smith's father, Kenneth, was born...

     who burps, yawns, farts, and talks under his breath while he watches the film at his flat. Throughout the commentary, he calls his friends (played by Terry Jones
    Terry Jones
    Terence Graham Parry Jones is a Welsh comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director, children's author, popular historian, political commentator, and TV documentary host. He is best known as a member of the Monty Python comedy team....

     and Eric Idle
    Eric Idle
    Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer, and comedic composer. He was as a member of the British comedy group Monty Python, a member of the The Rutles on Saturday Night Live and author of the play, Spamalot....

    ) by telephone.

  • The Hot Fuzz
    Hot Fuzz
    Hot Fuzz is a 2007 British action dark comedy film written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. The three had previously worked together on the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead as well as the television series Spaced...

    3-disc collector's edition DVD includes a commentary featuring real policemen and a commentary in which director Edgar Wright and fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino discuss nearly 200 films and television series but barely make reference to Hot Fuzz.

  • In an episode of the series King of the Hill
    King of the Hill
    King of the Hill is an American animated dramedy series created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, that ran from January 12, 1997, to May 6, 2010, on Fox network. It centers on the Hills, a working-class Methodist family in the fictional small town of Arlen, Texas...

    , Bobby listens to the audio commentary of a fictional film. The film's director remarks that "the sky wasn't sad enough" for the scene.

  • In the American Dad episode Bullocks to Stan, the fish
    Fish
    Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

     character Klaus Heissler purposely begins to audibly give a commentary on the events of the episode; when Roger
    Roger the Alien
    Roger Smith, is a character from the animated television series American Dad!. He is a space alien, reminiscent of the Roswell greys, but with the body that resembles E.T., and lives with the Smith family. Roger is sarcastic, amoral, self-centered, and hedonistic...

     asks what he's doing, he says that he is acting as if the characters lives were on a DVD and he's the expert giving commentary on it. Near the end of the episode, his commentary can be heard over the events of the climactic fight between Stan
    Stan Smith
    Stanley Roger "Stan" Smith is a former American tennis player and two time Grand Slam singles champion who also, with his partner Bob Lutz, formed one of the most successful doubles teams of all time. Together, they won many major titles all over the world...

     and Bullock, despite the fact that Klaus is not present at this event like he is at previous events he comments on in the episode; he claims that the 'actor' playing the busboy
    Busboy
    Busser, busboy and busgirl are terms used in the United States for someone who works in the restaurant and catering industry clearing tables, taking dirty dishes to the dishwasher, setting tables and otherwise assisting the waiting staff....

     was killed during the making of the episode, and at one point apologizes for talking over what he claims is the funniest line in the episode.

Commentary re-use


Some film companies transfer the audio commentary of the laserdisc release of a film on to the DVD rather than creating a new one. For example, El Mariachi
El Mariachi
El Mariachi is a 1992 Mexican-American action film that is the debut of writer/director Robert Rodriguez. The Spanish language film was shot in the northern Mexican bordertown of Ciudad Acuña with a mainly amateur cast...

Special Edition, Total Recall
Total Recall
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox & Mel Johnson, Jr.. It is based on the Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”...

Special Edition, Spaceballs
Spaceballs
Spaceballs is a 1987 American science fiction comedy parody film co-written by, directed by, Mel Brooks and starring Bill Pullman, John Candy, Mel Brooks & Rick Moranis. It also features, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and the voice of Joan Rivers. The film was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on...

and A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American slasher film directed and written by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film features Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund, and Johnny Depp in his feature film...

all contain the commentary from the laserdisc release. This may be for financial reasons, depending on whether the rights to the original commentary are cheaper to use than recording a new one (a company releasing a film on DVD today may not be the same company who released it on laserdisc); or it could simply be that the original commentary does its job well without the need for an update. Contrastingly, some DVDs do not have a commentary even though the laserdisc release did (for example, Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver is a 1976 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The film is set in New York City, soon after the Vietnam War. The film stars Robert De Niro and features Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Cybill Shepherd. The film was nominated for four Academy...

). This may be because the parties involved have not reached a publication agreement.

The audio commentaries of The Criterion Collection are often considered some of the finest and most informative commentaries ever made, and the Laserdisc releases of classic films can be highly priced because Criterion generally does not license their commentaries for use on later DVDs when the rights to films they have release revert back to the studio, including the aforementioned Taxi Driver. Other notables include the commentary for The Silence of the Lambs (featuring stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, along with director Jonathan Demme
Jonathan Demme
Robert Jonathan Demme is an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Best known for directing The Silence of the Lambs, which won him the Academy Award for Best Director, he has also directed the acclaimed movies Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married, the Talking Heads concert movie Stop...

) and Terry Gilliam's tracks for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a 1988 British adventure comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam, starring John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, and Robin Williams.-Plot:...

and The Fisher King
The Fisher King (film)
The Fisher King is a 1991 American comedy-drama film written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam. It stars Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer and Michael Jeter...

.

Video games


Some video games, such as the episodic sequels to Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 , the sequel to Half-Life, is a first-person shooter video game and a signature title in the Half-Life series. It is singleplayer, story-driven, science fiction, and linear...

and Tomb Raider: Anniversary, have experimented with audio commentaries. Unlike DVD commentaries, the systems used for video games do not use a predetermined continuous flow of speech, because the events of a game depend on the player's actions. Instead, in-game prompts are used to allow players to activate a relevant audio commentary for a specific area. The camera and action may also be altered to more readily showcase the developer's comments.

List of video games with audio commentary

  • 2000
    • Star Wars: Episode I: Battle for Naboo, believed to be the earliest video game with audio commentary and the only known game cartridge with audio commentary.
  • 2001
    • Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
      Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
      Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is an arcade-style action game co-developed by Factor 5 and LucasArts. The second of three games in the Rogue Squadron series, it was published by LucasArts and released as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube on November 9, 2001.Set in the fictional...

  • 2002
    • Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
      Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
      Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is a platform stealth video game created by Sucker Punch Productions, and released on the Sony PlayStation 2 in 2002, subsequently republished as a "Greatest Hits" title. The game was followed by two sequels, Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves...

  • 2004
    • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
      The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
      The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is a first-person action/stealth video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by Vivendi Games. Released for the Xbox and Windows in 2004, the game is a tie-in prequel to the futuristic science fiction film The Chronicles of Riddick...

      (PC version and as downloadable content for the Xbox 360 version)
  • 2005
    • Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
      Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
      Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is a small additional level for the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. Developed by Valve Software, it was released on October 27, 2005, through the Steam content delivery service as a free download to owners of the Microsoft Windows version of Half-Life 2...

    • Stubbs the Zombie
  • 2006
    • Half-Life 2: Episode One
      Half-Life 2: Episode One
      Half-Life 2: Episode One is the first in a series of episodes that serve as the sequel for the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. It was developed by Valve Corporation and released on June 1, 2006. Originally called Half-Life 2: Aftermath, the game was later renamed to Episode One...

  • 2007
    • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
      Half-Life 2: Episode Two
      Half-Life 2: Episode Two is the second episode in a series of sequels to the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. It was developed by Valve Corporation in tandem with Episode One, the first game in the series, and released in Q4 2007 via Valve's Steam content distribution platform...

    • Portal
    • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
    • Team Fortress 2
      Team Fortress 2
      Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter multiplayer video game developed by Valve Corporation. A sequel to the original mod Team Fortress based on the Quake engine, it was first released as part of the video game compilation The Orange Box on October 10, 2007 for Windows...

    • Tomb Raider: Anniversary
  • 2008
    • Left 4 Dead
      Left 4 Dead
      Left 4 Dead is a cooperative first-person shooter video game. It was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve Corporation during development. The game uses Valve's proprietary Source engine, and is available for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and Mac OS X...

  • 2009
    • Left 4 Dead 2
      Left 4 Dead 2
      Left 4 Dead 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter video game. It is the sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead. The game launched on November 17, 2009, for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in the United States and November 20 in Europe; in 2010, Left 4 Dead 2 was made available to...

  • 2010
    • Alan Wake
      Alan Wake
      Alan Wake is a story-driven action game in the psychological thriller genre, developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Game Studios, released for the Xbox 360 video game console in 2010...

    • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge Special Edition
      Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
      Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is an adventure game developed and published by LucasArts in 1991. It was the second game of the Monkey Island series, following The Secret of Monkey Island, and the sixth LucasArts game to use the SCUMM engine. It was the first game to use the iMUSE sound...

      (original game released in 1991)
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
      Amnesia: The Dark Descent
      Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a survival horror video game by Frictional Games, who previously developed the Penumbra series. Released for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms, the game features an unarmed protagonist exploring a dark and foreboding castle, while avoiding monsters and other...

  • 2011
    • Portal 2
      Portal 2
      Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The sequel to the 2007 video game Portal, it was announced on March 5, 2010, following a week-long alternate reality game based on new patches to the original game...


External links

  • Rate That Commentary: Website devoted to user-submitted ratings and reviews of DVD audio commentary tracks.
  • Commentary Tracks of the Damned: A feature of The Onion
    The Onion
    The Onion is an American news satire organization. It is an entertainment newspaper and a website featuring satirical articles reporting on international, national, and local news, in addition to a non-satirical entertainment section known as The A.V. Club...

    's A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

     focusing on the commentary tracks that accompany DVD releases of critical and/or box office flops
    Box office bomb
    The phrase box office bomb refers to a film for which the production and marketing costs greatly exceeded the revenue regained by the movie studio. This should not be confused with Hollywood accounting when official figures show large losses, yet the movie is a financial success.A film's financial...

    .
  • Sharecrow: Database of third-party DVD commentaries; offers synchronization software.
  • www.dvdcommentaries.co.uk Alternative DVD Commentary Site
  • "Becoming Book-Like: Bob Stein and the Future of the Book"