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The world is divided not only between the rich and the poor but also into six regions - six DVD regions, that is, depending on how affluent that part of the world is. The U.S. comes in as region 1 (very expensive DVDs) whereas China is region 6 (very cheap DVDs). It supposedly stops region 1 and 2 viewers buying those five dollar "other region" DVDs you see in video stores, flea markets and for sale on eBay.
From our previous trips to Indonesia we had brought back some Indonesian-made DVDs which, however, did not play on our locally bought DVD player. Nor did the German version of the movie "The Riddle of the Sands" which my brother had copied for me from the German television. We had recently bought the cheap VCR/DVD-combo TEVION TEV8400 from ALDI. Without expecting it to be any more "region-friendly" than all the other players, I tried to play one of the Indonesian DVDs and then the German copy, and - SURPRISE! - they played perfectly!!!
Encouraged by this, I ventured out and ordered three Region 1 DVDs which weren't available in Australia but which I had always wanted to see:
"In a Savage Land" is an exploration of the sexual politics and cultural differences against the stunning vistas of the Trobriand Islands in New Guinea. I had heard of the Trobriands when I lived in New Guinea in the 70s but I had never visited them. In the film, two anthropologists travel to this remote island group to study its culture in the 1930s. Evelyn (Maya Stange) is an adventurous freethinker, while her husband Phillip (Martin Donovan) is a rigid scholar bound to convention and propriety. Tension develops between the couple when Phillip fails to acknowledge what Evelyn sees as obvious: that women run this lusty culture. Tensions are upped another notch when Evelyn falls for Mick (Rufus Sewell), a macho American pearl merchant. As Evelyn's life begins to crash in around her, the Japanese army invades her island paradise and tragedy strikes her priggish husband. "In a Savage Land" was screened at the 1999 Vancouver Film Festival.
"Never on Sunday" ("Pote Tin Kyriaki" Pote Tin Kyriaki) is a classic romantic comedy that blends "Pygmalion" with "Irma La Douce." Melina Mercouri is the earthy Piraeus prostitute who is "educated" by an American visitor (director and Mercouri hubby Jules Dassin) trying to find ties between the modern world and ancient Greece. Eventually, he tutors Mercouri on her country's history. It features a memorably bouncy musical score which takes me back to the time in the 80s when I lived and worked in Piraeus.
The third film, "Lord Jim", is a majestic adaptation of one of my favourites of Joseph Conrad's many classic tales chronicling the exploits of adventure-seeking seaman Lord Jim as he joins the crew of a merchant vessel travelling the Orient. After abandoning ship during a fierce storm, the Englishman becomes overwhelmed with feelings of guilt for his cowardly act. But when he has the opportunity to help overthrow a tyrannical general in the jungles of Southeast Asia, will he find the redemption he so desperately seeks? It stars Peter O'Toole who, of course, played so convincingly in another of my favourite movies, "Lawrence of Arabia".
How great was my disappointment when of the three DVDs, only "Lord Jim" played on my ALDI machine! It wasn't all that "region-friendly" after all!
I had heard that there was usually a way of opening up the regions on DVD players but the manufacturers keep very quiet about it (no mention of it in the user's manual!) I GOOGLEd the internet with the keywords "unlock" and "regions" and discovered hundreds of entries all dealing with how to unlock a DVD player to make it an all-region player. Each "code-breaker" was specific to a particular brand and model. None of them mentioned ALDI's TEVION TEV8400 until I came across an enterprising Peter Titcumb of Everton in Victoria who sold this information on ebay for US$5. I parted with what was some AUS$7-plus and received by email a bunch of pages and webpage links which were of little help. Back to GOOGLE! I finally found the instructions I was looking for in the public domain:
The steps for the TEVION TEV8400 model are as follows: (Beware: the instructions are different for each brand and model!)
IT WORKS!!! Pity I fell for that chap in Victoria who is $7 richer thanks to my naïvety - it's the first time a Victorian got the better of me! However, I take off my hat to his enterprising spirit in selling public domain knowledge to the gullible. I wonder if he would mind telling me how many he's roped in already!?
If YOU have a problem opening up your DVD to all regions, send me an email. I promise I won't charge you $7!
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