Saturday, November 12, 2005


Via A&LD, here are some good observations from Norman Lebrecht on the DVD revolution. Excerpts:

What this means, in cultural terms, is that film now takes its place beside literature, music and visual imagery as an art that can be owned and bookmarked. Where once you had to visit a cinema or spool through half a mile of clunky videotape in order to access a seminal scene in an essential movie, you now zone into it on DVD as quickly as finding a name in the index of an artist biography.

Film has become fact on DVD. It has left the cinema and joined us for drinks, an emancipatory moment for the last of the great western art forms. Books and music have always furnished our rooms, but to have film as a point of home reference, like Oxford English Dictionary and the complete works of Shakespeare, signals a revolution in cultural reception and, inevitably, creation.

Excellent points. However, I must take issue with the following:

It will, for instance, make it that much harder for Hollywood to remake its own milestones when half the world has the originals to hand for instant comparison. The Manchurian Candidate (1962), with its dream cast of Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh was unlikely to be bettered by Jonathan Demme's 2004 reshoot with Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep. But if anyone had foreseen that the original DVD would be around in the public hands, Demme's studio would never have raised the finance, let alone the enthusiasm, for an otiose update.

First of all, the TMC/62 VHS had been around for years before Demme's remake, and if I remember correctly, MGM Home Video already had a TMC/62 DVD on the market (since 1998), and then re-released the TMC/62 DVD in conjunction with the Paramount remake. I believe this article came from a Canadian Web publication, but I don't think that should make a difference in regards to the "if anyone had foreseen" implications. Secondly, IMHO, the Demme TMC remake complements the original and pays it great tribute without being a carbon copy, and I hardly see it as otiose. Demme paid similar tribute to Charade in with The Truth About Charlie, and the TTAC DVD even included the original Charade as part of the package. I think that the presence of the classic DVDs on the market will do significantly more to allow and/or pressure current filmmakers to produce new movies that are homages rather than rip-offs, and will also allow armchair Eberts to appreciate (or criticize, if need be) the new films with the added perspective of the classics.

In other news, here are sketches of the skeletons of well-known cartoon characters.

Finally, Eric Zorn shares the proposed name for the book about the 2004 Alan Keyes Illinois Senate Run: "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time." That's according to his ex-campaign manager, btw. It was only a year ago that the carpetbagging archconservative promised he was "committed to the people of Illinois," and he made good on his commitment by departing from the state immediately after winning 27% of the vote. Here's what happened: You'll remember that establishment GOP Senate candidate George Jim Jack Ryan was found, mid-campaign, to have tried to talk his hottie ex-wife Jeri "7 of 9" Ryan into certain activities that most people wait until after they are elected Senator to engage in. Upon Ryan's withdrawal (Ba-dum-BUM) some influential Illinois GOP mover/shaker was walking down the sidewalk when a flower pot fell off a fifth-story windowsill and landed on his head. This caused singing cartoon birds to circle his head. The cartoon birds were singing "Hey! Why not ask Alan Keyes?"...


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Excellent points regarding the "DVD revolution." There have been several remakes that have been produced even with a DVD widely available on the market- one that comes to mind is "Charlie and the Chocolate Facorty" - with Gene Wilder's command performance in the library of many film buffs. Hollywood has always been engaged in the remakes. Even directors have been known to remake (or in the case of George Lucas: retool) their own material; viz. Hitchcock and The Man who Knew too Much.
It's not so much that a DVD makes for an instant comparison- cinema fans always compare what they are watching to the experience of seeing the original - or even reading the book- in their heads.
The DVD as made even more of an impact beyond "bookmarking" - in regards to some of the extras packaged on a DVD. In some cases you can get the film (sometimes several versions), source material, documentaries, trailers, and commentaries from those involved. You can watch the movie and learn a whole lot more about it, if you so choose.

7:52 PM  

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