HDTV Bliss (Nearly)

March 28, 2010


Eight months after first learning that Turner Classic Movies would be available in high definition, I’m finally sitting here watching ‘The Graduate’ (in scope no less) and it was well worth the wait. Tonight the lineup is ‘The Graduate’, ‘Red’s’, ‘Chinatown’, ‘The Wind and the Lion’, and the original (obviously) ‘Parent Trap’. Later on this week I’ll be DVR’ing gems like ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘The African Queen’, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, and ‘Key Largo’.

Will they all look as good as recent HD transfers and be in their proper aspect ratio? Of course not, and it hardly matters at this point. I’ve read forum posts from HD enthusiasts (I chose that term over movie lovers on purpose) complaining about the quality and aspect ratio problems of Turner Classic Movies HD, MGM HD, and IFC HD. Yes, problems do exist with these channels, and in some cases they’re quite heinous, but there’s a reason for it and its actually very forgivable (at least at this point in time).

Unlike their recent, big budget hollywood counterparts, many of these films have to be restored and transferred to high definition, independent of the original studio. This is obviously a costly endeavor and one that must be balanced against the fact that there isn’t nearly as much the demand for classics in HD as for newer films. As such, much if not all of the cost of the transfer for classics can’t be recouped in the short term if ever.

I can only hope that demand for classic high definition programming will continue to grow, and Turner Classic Movies will reach even deeper into the vaults to lovingly restore more classic films. Oftentimes these films serve as a snapshot back in time, in some cases back to times that were much tougher than today’s economic downturn. Many of these films serve as memorials to our resilience as a nation, I can’t think of a better reason to preserve them.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HDTV