Soft Spot for Unrestored Classics?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by ZackR, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. ZackR

    ZackR Supporting Actor

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    OK,

    I know this might sound crazy, but I noticed something this weekend. I was watching King Kong (1933) on TCM. Of course, the print looked like it has every time I see it - scratched, damaged, muddy in many places - generally, it shows its age. But I realized that part of me actually liked that. I don't know why...maybe it adds some kind of "character" or mystique to it. I am not really sure what it is - watching Kong like that, it almost felt as if I were watching events unfold that took place years ago in another time and another world. Am I crazy? I just consciously noticed that the age/wear & tear on the print seemed to add something to the suspense and atmosphere. Now please do not get me wrong, I will be first in line to pick up Warner's inevitable DVD release which I am sure will be meticulously restored. But I will be holding onto my old copies as well, if only to occasionally revisit the film in the same presentation in which I have enjoyed it my entire life. Maybe I am not making any sense. Am I totally insane, or does anyone else understand what I am saying?
     
  2. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    I understand (I think) what you are saying, but don't you reckon it's more to do with nostalgia than adding atmosphere; it's certainly how I first saw most 'Golden Age' movies, on a creaky black and white TV set, through a haze of dirt and snow!

    I get more of a buzz from seeing an old and loved movie restored to how cinema audience might have seen it on its premiere, and preserved forever. Something like Casablanca - which is a true wonder to behold - actually makes me shed tears of joy.

    If I ever want a reminder of how I saw it as a child, I still have an old VHS copy lying around somewhere...
     
  3. ZackR

    ZackR Supporting Actor

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    You are probably right about it being more nostalgia than atmosphere. I am sure that is more what it is. And like I said, I am totally, 100% in favor of quality restorations for sure. I am DYING to see what Warner does with their Kong release. Being 24 years old, until the advent of DVD and many of the restored classics now available, oftentimes my only exposure to a particluar film was on cable late at night on TCM or some other network or a worn out VHS. I never had laserdiscs growing up, but I know there were some excellent releases on that format. And you are right though, seeing a proper release of a classic is a beautiful thing. Watching the latest releases of Casablanca, Snow White, Singin' In The Rain and The Adventures of Robin Hood is a marvelous experience!
     
  4. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    on the other hand, I know I liked the vibrant Technicolor of ROBIN HOOD on laserdisc and TV.
    Sadly, the new Warner edition is sparkling clean, but the colors seem....somewhat anemic-
    made 'palettable' for modern audiences, i presume....
     
  5. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Anaemic? How so?
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    If you saw a fresh print made off the negative (perhaps THE first made off the negative), it wouldn't look like it went through a meat grinder. That's roughly how a film should look.

    Obviously, we can't have that look most of the time. However, movies need to be seen in the best way possible.

    For example, until the DVD came out, I had only seen Around the World in 80 Days (1956 version) in either a dirty and slightly faded pan & scan version or a dirty letterboxed version with nearly 30 minutes of cuts. When I saw the uncut and OAR DVD, it was much more enjoyable. When the colors are right, the whole frame is there, and film damage is decreased to the least amount possible... it adds to the experience.

    When I first saw Citizen Kane, it was the original VidAmerica VHS tape. Lots of scars and a very dark image, I liked it, but it didn't really look like the amazingly photographed film I read about. When I got the DVD, all the genius cinematography and even the acting seemed so much better than I remembered from the tape.

    This is why restoration and remastering are so important for film presentation.


    As for The Adventures of Robin Hood, I think the DVD has more of a Technicolor look to it. The old master used for laserdisc (I assume) looked like it was radioactive with the saturation being set too high. The Ultra-Resolution version has this wonderful golden look (That's the only way I can really describe it) that is missing in the previous master. There's nothing quite as wonderful to look at like nitrate Technicolor.
     
  7. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Enthusiastically seconded. Absolutely nothing like it [​IMG] It's a real joyous occasion when a new and beautiful three-strip Technicolor movie hits DVD. The Adventures of Robin Hood is like looking into the face of God (okay, okay, that may be taking it a little far, but you know what I mean... [​IMG] )
     
  8. Claude North

    Claude North Second Unit

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    Coincidentally, I was just thinking about the joys of old, scratchy prints of films seen on TV. Back in the day, the only way to see an old movie was to catch it on a UHF station. Sure, the films were interrupted for commercials, cut for time and content, and panned and scanned beyond recognition, but nonetheless, I loved the experience of curling up on the sofa in the family room with some Jiffy Pop and a soda and watching a classic, or not so classic, film. Each film brought with it the joy of discovery.

    I'm sure that many of the people who post here have similar memories, whether they're of Saturday afternoon horror shows, the 4 o'clock movie (perfect for after school viewing), or weekend late, late shows.

    Of course, all the work being done in restoration and preservation is for the greater good, and I applaud and support it. However, there will always be a place in my heart for the scratchy, faded version of CHARADE that I fell in love with on Channel 48 in Philadelphia, or the butchered version of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS that used to run on Channel 9 in Secaucus, NJ. Those experiences, and many others, were the ones that made me into a movie fan.
     
  9. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    I think it's a "generation thing". Those of use who grew up in the era when movies could only be shown on film seem to be more forgiving of the flaws and defects of film projection and tend not to make a big deal of a few scratches and splices.
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I think I take this to the extreme- I collect CED videodiscs and often watch them just to examine the often primitive transfers. There's just something about watching something produced 20 years ago played back on current equipment (it's a blast itself watching a 21-year old CED player on a somewhat current TV) to make it look and sound as good as that transfer possibly can, but as it was probably never intended.
    I've bought the old Discovision laserdisc issues of some of my favorite movies that I have in better versions as well.
     
  11. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    For those who want to experience how awful movies used to look on TV from the '50s to the early '80s, one need look no further than the avalanche of horrid supposed "public domain" releases that are flooding the market.

    The American Movie Classic series is a prime example, or anything from Alpha Video or Brentwood Video. These are derived from horrendous 16mm prints with lines, splices, scratches, cue-marks, and even jump-cuts. They're awful...and they're cheap. A perfect way to re-create the old Tv viewing experience.

    The new low-point are the supposed "TV GUIDE" DVD releases.
    The GENIUS VIDEO company (an oxymoron in this case) has purloined several TV series it has no rights to, and because certain early episodes did not have the copyright renewed, they have put them out on DVD, looking awful, with replaced music, under the TV GUIDE banner. What an insult to the people who made these series (not to mention their true legal owners).

    Because of companies like this, we may never see, good quality, legitimate releases of these features or TV series, bwcause their copyrights weren't properly renewed in time in the U.S., and the rightful owner has little impetus to properly release and restore them because of what the "public domain" companies have done.

    They try to legitimize them with names like TV GUIDE or AMC (that in itself is a joke since that cable channel went from kind of OK to dismal), but they're still scam artists, regardless. Avoid!!!!!
     

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