People are always surprised when they come to my house and aren’t greeted as they walk through the door by a 50″ plasma screen, surround sound and blu-ray set-up. The assumption being that, since I’m a film-maker/film-geek who owns a couple of video shops, I would be way ahead of the curve on this and expect to watch any film in the best available quality.
I’ve got a little 15″ TV somewhere, it’s never really used. I watch DVDs on the laptop and catch any TV programmes on iplayer or 4od.
The fetishization of audio-visual equipment doesn’t really do much for me. I could count on one hand the number of films that are worthy of that level of technical jiggery-pokery. And I’d rather see them in the cinema with their 70mm remastered prints. I can’t think of many films that I would enjoy more by having them punch me in the face and confuse my ears. The term ‘home cinema’ is somewhat ridiculous unless you actually have a cinema in your home. The beauty of cinema is space and scale and atmosphere. Every huge flatscreen TV I’ve ever seen has bothered me. It’s usually used in a space too small for it’s size, meaning that it’s too bright and you have to move your head around to see what’s going on on different parts of the screen. Most films weren’t shot to be seen in this level of detail, to have everything onscreen in pinpoint focus and visibility is actually kind of disorientating. Our old dvd sales rep was once trying to sell me on the virtues of blu-ray and he did by claiming he’d just watched Pirates of the Carribean on it and ‘you can see Keira Knightly’s moustache!’ I don’t want to see that. I don’t think the film-makers wanted me to see that. I’m pretty sure Keira Knightly wouldn’t have wanted me to. And if that’s what I’m noticing onscreen, then the technology probably isn’t serving the story too well.
The jump from video to DVD I got. I embraced it fully and immediately. Videos were starting to degrade, they wore out easily. DVD was a cleaner and visibly better format (picture quality-wise, DVD is like 100% better than video, I can’t believe that blu-ray is even 50% better than DVD and even if it were – who cares? Standard DVD is really really good quality!) and not just that, it ushered in the joyous age of special features.
Blu-Ray is a bridging format. With piracy at it’s highest ever quality and cinema fast becoming public domain, it’s a way of milking the idiots one last time – by selling them on the myth of quality. OK, maybe the image quality is FAR better but who cares? How many films deserve to be seen in such high quality? I don’t want to watch a Michael Bay film in ultra-high-definition. It’s a shitty film. Why would I want a shitty film to be allowed to bombard every sense I have apart from the sense of ‘this is a shitty film’. I’d gladly watch a Michael Bay film in VHS quality if he just hired a decent screenwriter and a more thoughtful editor.
It’s the same argument I raise when people say ‘yeah, but mp3’s are far shittier quality than cds’. Maybe. But if it’s a good song, I won’t notice. I won’t notice anyway, unless you play them for me side-by-side and even if you did, it’s not going to change my opinion of the actual song.
The cart is before the horse.