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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DVDs and the Further Reclamation of Youth (IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE END!)

It wasn't too long ago that many movies were in mortal danger.

Film is fragile. Old movies can degrade over time. Movies that did not have a widespread popularity were particularly vulnerable. Even parts of popular movies were in danger.

Take South Pacific for example. The original theatrical release, now referred to as the "Road Show Version," was 15 minutes longer than the subsequent releases. The extra minutes of footage were barely salvageable. If you watch the DVD, there is a noticeable drop in picture quality during these scenes.

Lost Horizon faired even worse. This classic flick had been so butchered that much of the footage was unsalvageable. If you watch it now, certain scenes will be audio only, with still pictures of the characters to attempt to set the scene.

The same fate nearly befell A New Hope. In discussing the work that went into the 1997 Special Edition, Rick McCallum tells us that the original film had deteriorated severely. If it had not been digitized then, it would have been lost forever.

The confluence of three modern technologies, however, holds the promise of preventing this from happening.

The first technology is modern digital movie manipulation. Movies can be placed into a digital format where, given appropriate backup and maintenance, they can be stored indefinitely. Digital tools can also restore damage to video and audio, providing an experience not seen since its original theatrical release.

Add to this the inexpensiveness of very high quality televisions and audio system. The average home theater will blow away any movie house of just a decade or two ago. Even when people make stupid mistakes like screwing up the aspect ratio or using different sizes of speakers (the most common idiotic mistake is to use a larger speaker for the center channel, even though the Dolby standard specifies that all speakers should be exactly the same), it still makes a great experience. People come to expect high quality experiences.

Finally, we have the internet. Fans of a particular movie may be scattered across the globe. Before the internet, none of them might have known that any others were out there. Now, the internet makes conversations among them easy.

Then Amazon did a brilliant thing. They added a section for people to request DVDs of certain movies. Movie studios can find out how many people are interested in a particular flick. Something that might have bombed at the box office, but gained a strong following on TV or video, can now be shown to garner a great deal of interest. This allows movie studios to determine that certain flicks should be pulled out of their archives for digitizing and cleanup. When the movie is made available, Amazon will email anyone who signed up to let them know about it.

This also works well with TV shows. This is how we were able to acquire the complete series of Sports Night, Firefly, and, most recently, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

Now, once again, this trisection of kismet has allowed the return of a classic from the 80s.

Now available in glorious 2.35:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround:

The 20th Anniversary Edition of:


The Monster Squad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'nuff said.


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