This Christmas is not going to be the BD breakthrough moment, in the way that suddenly everyone had to have a DVD player and a collection in the run-up to Christmas 2002. A quick troll through the forthcoming releases list on www.play.com shows that there just isn’t the killer, must-have blu-ray collection out there. Even the release of The Godfather Trilogy from a restored negative isn’t tempting. It doesn’t incorporate Coppola’s re-working of the first two films into a continuous narrative, as shown on TV, with enough extra footage to make an 11-hour story of vastly greater richness.
So far no-one is using the capacity of blu-ray disks to re-think existing product. It’s the story of the unloved extras disks on the Harry Potter DVDs, this time across the whole medium.
The same thing afflicts the release of Blade Runner. It is in the five-versions format. I can bear to hold on until it is re-edited to benefit from the new format. Also, Blade Runner is second only to Star Wars when it comes to rip-off re-packaging. They have pillaged us with successive DVD releases of Blade Runner, Blade Runner the de luxe edition, Blade Runner the director’s cut, Blade Runner the definitive edition, and Abbott and Costello meet Blade Runner. I’d rather wait and see what comes out next.
Like many men, I was nerdy enough to buy a few DVDs before I actually had a DVD player. I daresay I will do the same again with The Godfather. But it might be a long wait before I get anything other than a ‘C’ drive with BD on my computer, because full players have still not reached their final .2 format. They were rushed out as a ‘spoiler’ to stop the H-DVD format.
So I want at least three of the following on the market before I’ll buy a player, as well as The Godfather and Blade Runner:
3. The Hammer Films Collection. But only in the correct aspect ratio. The DVD lot are 16:9, which spoils the composition of the films. We had to put up with ‘pan and scan’ for far too long. Now, with far bigger screens, of enormously greater resolution, there is no excuse for trimming to a 16:9 ratio. In fact, it is against the law relating to Integrity of the Artist’s Work in a number of EU countries.
4. The Avengers ‘Emma Peel’ series. Why does this need 1080p? It doesn’t, really, but it is so stylish that the bigger and more detailed the better – episodes such as Castle de’Ath (yes, I know Steed has knickers under his kilt, and so does Mrs Peel under her nightie – it’s great anyway, alright?), The Girl From Auntie, The Winged Avenger, Murdersville…
5. The Ipcress File. The film-haters at the BBC have shown it again and again in a dirty print and chopped to 16:9. Strange, because this is a film famous for director Sidney J Fury’s composition of the shots.
6. Bullitt. Fantastic: San Francisco, ‘60s cars and costumes, the best car chase ever.
7. Dr Strangelove: a black and white film, but what great use of monochrome. Ideally with the cover using the graphics from the film, rather than the bland titles of the Region 2 DVD case. Peter Sellars is superb, of course, but so is George C Scott: I want to see every nuance of his reply to a suggested death-toll of 30 million people: “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed a little.”
8. Hero: That fabulous, fabulous use of colour. But, frankly, I think I’ll hold off getting it even longer, until the big OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs with their true-colour screens come to market in three or four years time.
9. O What a Lovely War. English directors mostly make talkies, not movies, and Richard Attenborough is the only one of them who can compose an epic scene. Worth it just for that closing helicopter shot of the South Downs covered with white crosses.
10. Der Ma Vaere in Sengekant: now you think I’m a pretentious prat, naming an obscure film you’ve never heard of. Well, you’re half-right. Perhaps you know it by one of its other titles, Danish Bedroom. Oh, come on, get real: what is the great thing we all really, really want from a big screen and a pin-sharp picture?