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[Comments] (6) Nostalgia Theater: Snapshots From Belgium: While wandering around Brussels about a year ago, I went into a video store that had a Shaolin Soccer poster in the window. Since the poster said "Shaolin Soccer" and not "Le Futbol Shao-Lin" or something, I figured I could just ask for "Shaolin Soccer" but phrase the rest of the request in French. My plan was foiled when, like everyone else in Brussels, the video store clerk just started talking to me in English. But unlike everyone else who did this, she was very friendly and chatty--I guess not a lot of tourists come to the video store.

Another departure from the Brussels norm is that, though perfectly fluent in English, she had no idea what I was talking about. I had to show her the poster in the window to convince her that such a movie existed. Thus convinced, she started rooting around in the back and I started scouring the shelves. We talked a little. "My accent is very bad," she said. "My French is very bad," I pointed out.

Finally we found the movie on a shelf behind the cash register. So, that's why I have a Region 2 DVD of Shaolin Soccer dubbed in French. How come Region 1 DVDs all have multilingual subtitles and dubbing, but a DVD from any other region has nothing? I am starting to suspect that certain DVD regions are freeloaders.

Next time I get nostalgic, I'll tell you about the Italian restaurant in Charleroi where I accidentally ordered a salad. Yeah, that should cure my nostalgia.


Posted by Brendan at Tue May 04 2004 17:30

My dad used to tell the story of how, on a business trip to Italy, he tried to order a pepperoni pizza and received a cold round disc covered in strips of red bell pepper and American cheese.

Posted by Leonard at Tue May 04 2004 17:53

Sounds like Little Rock pizza.

Posted by Joe at Wed May 05 2004 05:11

Region 4 DVDs have all the multilingual subtitles and dubbing. When is this regional nonsense going to end anyway? Surely it isn't an effective piracy countermeasure?

Posted by Leonard at Wed May 05 2004 09:53

I think it's not a piracy countermeasure per se, but it does prevent enterprising people from exporting DVDs wholesale from a cheap DVD region to a more expensive one. I don't think even someone who calls unauthorized home copying "piracy" would call that "piracy". I bet all the actual pirated DVDs, the ones available for 40 cents in a market in Kazakhstan, are region free.

I once wrote a Segfault article about plans to make the regions smaller and smaller until your DVD would only work in the store where you bought it.

The DVDs I've bought from Japan have been Japanese only, and I figured if any region had a reason to put out multiple languages on a DVD, it would be Western Europe. Sorry to slur your DVD region.

Posted by Kristen at Fri May 07 2004 18:35

How do they get them to only play in one region? Maybe I will realize that is a stupid question once I get the answer.

Posted by Leonard at Sat May 08 2004 12:08

They do that by getting everyone who makes DVD players (whether hardware or software) to agree to make them respect the region codes. Every DVD player is preset to the region where it was sold. Most players will let you change the region about three times and then it's locked. To enforce this, they got a law passed that basically makes it illegal to find out how DVD players work, and using trade secret law to prosecute people who wrote DVD players without permission. Some of my friends (like Seth) are working to change this. (Seth, is this accurate?)


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