Perhaps the biggest Bluray blunder since last May’s Barry Lyndon aspect-ratio debacle has been discussed and lamented by members of Home Theatre Forum over the last couple of days. It concerns the just-released British Bluray of West Side Story (which is presumed to be a duplicate of the forthcoming domestic Fox Home Video version). The complaint is about a crazy and nonsensical fade-to-black that happens toward the end of the overture sequence.

Doofuses might argue that it’s a relatively minor boo-boo in the greater scheme, but it’s one hell of a mistake in the eyes of film buffs, the Movie Godz and anyone who cares about representing the intentions of the filmmakers. I ordered the British West Side Story Bluray immediately when I heard about this to see if it’s true. If it is, this snafu may be cause for a recall and re-mastering, at least as far as the domestic version is concerned.

To hear it from HTF member Adrian Turner, it sounds like a monkey was at the control board when the Bluray was scanned. Fox Home Video will release the West Side Story Bluray domestically on 11.15, but they allegedly had nothing to do with transferring the elements to Bluray, or so I’ve been told.

Turner wrote early this morning that he “was so worried about this tampering with the overture that when my copy arrived ten minutes ago I played the disc immediately, and I’m afraid it’s true. There is a complete fade-to-black [during the overture] just before the pull-out to reveal the main title.

“The overture plays from the start as it should do and the Bluray image is very sharp. At the climax of the overture, the moment when the music changes tempo and the color should switch to blue and the zoom-out, there is a quick fade to black and then we get the final section of the music and the blue image. This image is very fuzzy indeed and then it clears and becomes sharp with the zoom-out to reveal the title WEST SIDE STORY. The dissolve from the Saul Bass design to the live shot of New York is just as it should be.

“I don’t know why [the parties responsible] have chosen to alter the film and have ruined this most dramatic moment. It’s a total travesty and I don’t care what the rest of the Bluray looks and sounds like. I think we have a sort of Gladiator moment here. Fox need to withdraw this disc and re-do it.”

HTF member A. Hollis of New Orleans asks, “What is with all the tampering? The Bluray should be the mother of all answers. [The fault] has to lie with people in charge who knew nothing about what they were working on. Whoever transferred this must have thought it was a typical overture sequence that needed to fade to black before the film begins, but the entire segment needs to be seen unbroken for impact. Damn, they are just so uninformed!”

Question: A couple of days ago DVD Beaver‘s Gary W. Tooze posted a sneak preview of the British West Side Story Bluray. It wasn’t a “review” but you’d think he’d at least mention something as glaring as this…no? He didn’t.