Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray: uncovering a multitude of sins

Goodbye yellow brick road: What is that swinging from a tree?

The DVD’s days appear to be numbered. Department store John Lewis has announced it will not be putting any more of the devices on shelves when stocks run out.

At the turn of the millennium, Generation X willingly updated the VHS cassettes that adorned their shelves to DVD for a more enjoyable home cinema experience.

Then came the constant DVD re-releases: the ultimate edition release, which was a re-release of the anniversary edition release, which was a re-release two-disc special release. How many releases can a film company milk out of one film? They know there are enough cinephiles out there who just have to have it and would fork out on the latest release, despite already owning the re-release of the re-release of the first release.

Just when you thought your 100+ DVD collection that guests to your house were in awe of was the ultimate film fix, the bottom began to fall out of the DVD market. Gen X and millennials reluctantly took their DVDs to the charity shop and slowly started to upgrade to Blu-ray. Now, once again, it’s time for an upgrade — to Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray.

Just as VHS blew away Betamax, DVD blew away VHS, Blu-ray technology has blown away DVD. Be it a dodgy rear projection, the join on Spock’s pointy ears, or a lady’s nipple and pubic hair in the title sequence of a Bond film, Blu-ray has uncovered a multitude of sins. Now, the mask has slipped.

Bond title sequence stalwart Maurice Binder later admitted to smearing Vaseline petroleum jelly on title sequence models’ pubic hair to flatten the “70s bush”. Nice work if you can get it. With ladies’ grooming habits having since evolved, I doubt current Bond title sequence director Daniel Kleinman faces the same challenge.

The make-up that was plastered on Sean Connery’s arms to cover his now conspicuous ‘Scotland forever’ tattoo kind of momentarily ruins the illusion that he is James Bond. As do the individual weaves of his hairpiece above his forehead. The wires that lifted Christopher Reeve into the sky kind of ruin the illusion that he is Superman.

The jowls on the eating machine in Jaws — fondly named ‘Bruce’ by Spielberg and crew — now resemble your nan’s. Bruce’s mechanical munching of Quint aboard the deck of the Orca has become slightly noticeable. I still think Bruce looks phenomenal, especially in the close-up scenes with Chief Brody.

Richard Dreyfuss thinks that Jaws could be improved by replacing Bruce with a CGI shark. Both Duel (Jaws on land) and Steven Spielberg’s 1976 Amity Island tale are a masterclass in how to direct a taut thriller with compelling characters. Jaws is a masterpiece; a brilliant demonstration of cinema — which leads me to believe that it should never be tampered with.

George Lucas hasn’t been able to resist making the odd nip and tuck to the original Star Wars trilogy over the years, which were much-maligned among fans. I’d welcome a few CGI retouches to Bruce, but not the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

A grim tale emerged in the late 1980s when The Wizard of Oz was released on VHS. An actor playing a munchkin supposedly hung himself on set over his unrequited love for a fellow munchkin-playing dwarf. It’s been said that as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and Dorothy gleefully sing and dance their way up The Yellow Brick Road, his body can be seen swinging from a tree.

This old chestnut has been debunked thanks to HD. Turns out that it was an exotic stray bird or something. HD swings and roundabouts.

Copyright © 2018 J W Emery Ltd. All rights reserved.

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