Living in the age of streaming and the internet means that getting a hold of movies, even the classic action flicks of the 80s and 90s, is easier than ever. A quick search on our favorite service can put dozens at our fingertips, and failing that, remasters and rereleases make getting a hold of a 4K Blu-ray rarely a difficult task. There are complications beneath the surface, however, that might be affecting your experience more than you realize.
Vision, Scope, and Delivery
A good filmmaker goes into the creative process with an idea of the final product. They’ve run the film through their heads many times, and they understand the beats and how the film will look and sound. This guides them from pre- through post-production, as they bring their vision to life as accurately as they can.
The only problem with this is that, especially for the classic movies we love, their presentation is bound to the technology of the time. This means that classic action movies were made for the big screens and VCRs of the 1980s and 90s, and that’s not the technology we have today. In other words, the scope of older action movies kept in mind the visual restraints, and when we ignore that we can compromise delivery.
“Vinyl” (Public Domain) by Anders Printz
This disconnect has been famously illustrated in the past in the audio world in the shift from vinyl to more modern lossless systems. Although, in this case, many of the recording artists would have preferred more accurate systems, there’s something to be said for the charm of older solutions that can’t be captured by more modern technology.
In film higher detail in an image can change the fundamental feeling it gives us. With too much detail, worlds can become less abstract, taking us out of the experience. It may be contradictory, but too much detail added can subtract from the emotions we built up around the original releases, generating a feeling of sterility.
Tech may change the form of entertainment, but sometimes these changes can be for the better. Aside from the lossless audio example above, think about how live bingo in online parlors has changed the bingo experience. With modern systems, special events such as Naughty or Nice Live by Buzz Bingo can be played right from home, or anywhere on the go with a mobile connection. This level of customization and freedom of choice is a huge boon to the experience, and with a little work, the same can apply to rereleases of modern films.
The viewing systems we have today can be incredibly flexible if you don’t mind doing a little work. If that lo-fi look is something you want to recapture, then some of the best solutions can be through converter cables, to change high-definition signals to ones of more basic quality. Converting HDMI to RCA cables can be a great way to accomplish this feat. Other potential solutions include TV and media player filters, or simply converting your old tapes to newer media types via a conversion service. This approach means you still have a huge selection to draw from, combining the best of both worlds into one whole.
“History of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (CC BY 2.0) by deepskyobject
The older tapes and players we use to watch classic action movies like Terminator are on the way out. Fortunately, by using the latest in high-tech systems, we can hold on to what we’d otherwise lose. We know that it’s a long way to go to make something look technically worse, and you’ll definitely get some weird looks from people who don’t know where you’re coming from, but so what? Sometimes how we engage is just as important as what we engage with, and for the sake of recapturing what makes classic films possible, there’s nothing bad about going the right way in the wrong direction.