Quality counts

P rogress: you would think that the quality of everything - audio, television, cinema - would keep on getting better as time goes by. I've seen silent films made in the 1920s with stunningly high quality: and you can usually tell 1960s black-and-white films by the scruffy quality of the photography. The 1960s 70mm epics such as El Cid put many modern films to shame (when you can find a print). I've got fifty-year-old LP records which are a joy to listen to and several modern CDs which set my teeth on edge (though the reverse is also true).

Audiences are generally unreliable assessors of quality. A friend, who had at one time been a projectionist at a couple of minor cinemas in South London, said that audiences would often blame faults in the actual movie (bad editing, badly recorded sound, unintelligible plots) on the projectionist: but blame projection faults (out of focus, or the rack-line between frames visible) on the director.

However this was some years back: and one of the interesting developments of the DVD era - and home cinema setups with large flat-screen TVs - is that people have started to demand high quality: and this has led to painstaking restoration of many old films which had previously only available in poor quality prints: in particular some of the rare silent films which have been digitally restored with great care from original camera negatives and look as if they had been photographed yesterday: and the recent advent of Blue-Ray restorations has made them available to the domestic user in stunning quality. Now that is progress.

And satellite channel TCM shows excellent quality prints of classic films... and plasters its wretched logo over them (and they're not alone - 'five', More4, ITV3, BBC4...). That isn't progress.

Posted: Thu - September 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM