Madonna - Celebration: The Video Collection (2009)

Let me start off on a positive note, the DVD set contains 47 videos on 2 DVDs. Some good ones are inexplicably omitted (Dress You Up, Oh Father, Bad Girl, Fever, This Used to Be My Playground, Substitute For Love, Nothing Really Matters, American Life, etc) but there is a lot of good material released here for the first time. The audio is generally excellent. The 5.1 track is not really a 5.1 mix, it is simulated and sounds terrible. Stick with the PCM stereo track, it sounds fantastic.

I won't comment much on the content of the videos. They are some of the most famous and influential music videos ever made. This is classic stuff. With the exception of Justify My Love (see below) all of the videos are uncut.

Now on to the picture quality...what the hell happened here? It's not as horrible as some people have claimed, but it is WAY below standard. There are serious compression artifacts throughout all of the videos. Pixellation, smearing, graininess, blotchy color, blurring, interlacing artifacts. It's all there and it looks bad. I am watching the DVD on an upscaling Blu Ray player on a 52" LCD 1080P television. It won't look as bad on a smaller TV, but it still won't look great. I have honestly seen VHS look better than some of the videos. The Immaculate Collection DVD, which was made from a 19 year old master, looks better.

The problem is that someone made the really, really stupid decision to use single layer DVDs instead of the industry standard dual layer DVDs. I suspect this decision was made late in the process to save a few cents and the program was re-compressed to fit in half the space. There is too much compression and too much picture quality lost. I'll bet the original master was for 2 dual layer DVDs and it probably looked very good. It is hard to believe that anyone at Warner quality control approved the picture quality on these DVDs. Didn't Madonna sign off on a release copy??

I thought it might have something to do with the age of some of the videos, but the most recent ones look just as bad. The brand new Celebration video only looks slightly better than VHS quality. And it is ridiculous that the widescreen videos are not in 16:9 format, even the recent ones filmed in 16:9 HD are in letterboxed 4:3.

There really is no excuse for this to happen, especially from a company as large as Warner and an artist as big as Madonna. Using single layer DVDs could have only saved them a few cents. On a $30 set, that is inexcusable.

I would strongly suggest not buying this DVD until Warner addresses the situation. I think outcry among the fans will (hopefully) cause Warner to do the right thing and release a corrected version on dual layer discs.

One more thing, the video for Justify My Love is CENSORED! This video was widely released uncensored as a video single in 1991 and sold millions of copies. And NOW, 18 years later, it is censored?? Just unbelievable.

Also, the Amazon description claiming the DVD has "unedited and never before seen footage of 'Justify My Love'" is completely false. There is no new footage at all. In fact, you actually see less because of the censorship.

Blah, blah, blah