A Proper Remastering

With the limited re-release of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. The film has been remastered, but not as you may fear, only enhancing the picture and sound quality. Revisiting the film to boost its quality. If an original print was re-released the quality would be far less superior, having faded and may even be full of scratches, which you could argue is part of the films aesthetic. I don’t know if the film has been cleaned up in that respect.

The increase in brightness and careful colour correction process, a new sound-mix to match the visual our experience of its original release is maintained and enhanced. Unlike other films, as discussed in the video above, that take the classic and pull them apart and re-release as 3D films, which really does nothing, except bring them back to the screens for a short while. I saw The Lion King (1994) in 3D which was my first time viewing the film on the big screen, I found myself lost to nostalgia and reciting half the lines. Whilst distracted at how this print was different from that I have on the (2000)DVD print. This same process is being applied to other films to just as the video says ‘milk it’ for more money. Of course people will flock to the cinema and view them, many seeing these films mainly on TV, back in their natural habitat it make sense, with the added extra or burden of every frame being pulled apart, and stretched into the 3D format.

Turning again as I have before the Star Wars films that George Lucas just can’t leave alone, with every release, he takes back the older in turn for the new and “improved” version that is nearer to his vision, but what about the vision of the fans who grew up with the original, their memories are being tarnished, Nostalgia is not able to form. The franchise and the fans are not being respected, all for perfection.

Turning to Colourisation that converts black and white films to colour, which is just pointless.  I have a few films that have been damaged by this process. Most prominently It’s a Wonderful Life (1947). The colour version is full of pastel tones, the process has not considered the make-up and the photography of the time. Being all too-aware that they were photographing in black and white, all the elements were tailored that pallet. The Make-up is full of pastel tones, obvuoisly they wont be picking up skin tones so they chose to disregard them. The beauty of black and white films is just that they are black and white, there is a lack of respect for some classic films. It hasn’t been practised in a while now which shows that consumers don’t want these washed out colour version of classic films. When I watch a black and white film, I am drawn in by the photography, which is heightened in film-noirs. I don’t wonder how they would look in colour, as you respect the director choice of film stock. They are also a moment in time, and piece of  work that if touched anyway except to repair we loose what we once had.

Lastly I can’t help but consider the remastering of Disney DVDs, with every re-release they advertise that they have been remastered. I wonder how much work is being done on these films. Are they just repeating statements, or are they using new techniques to enhance/repair the film? Another point is those who saw the original release, are they really being given back the print they paid to see, or are we being sold the idea of that? Of course to see a film in its best condition is always preferred, but you can only polish something for so long before you harm the original.

It’s about finding the balance between restoration of the original print and making a few more pounds to pocket for the distributor, and makers. Theres also a respect for the original that is sometimes lost in the eyes of the industry. Blu-ray is probably the best form of bridging that gap. The film lovers medium to see the films at their near best. The image is enhanced, so enhancing the viewing experience  without any major chnages. Just a clear image.



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