Sunday, 1 November 2009

“Emma” – the BBC’s 2009 Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Novel on BLU RAY…or not…

"…I Have Examined My Own Heart…And There You Were…"

The BBC's adaptation of Jane Austen's 4th and least-liked book is a superbly realized and warm-hearted gem, thanks to its talented and aptly chosen cast and its truly beautiful production values. ROMOLA GARAI and JONNY LEE MILLER as Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley are wonderful in their parts and exude genuine chemistry, while MICHAEL GAMBON is spot-on as Emma's loving but hypochondriac father and the other sub-characters are expertly played out too. It's what we all know - no one does it better than the BBC...

But as someone who loves oldies and wants to collect films in their best form, there's a stickler point of view that I feel needs to be put out there - and right now... Standard Definition versus High Definition...

I've watched a lot of BLU RAY reissues across the last year (and reviewed most of them) and loved the ones that have been properly restored or properly prepped for reissue. But - and this is a big but - when old movies or TV productions are transferred to BLU RAY, unless they're remastered or restored, the indoor shots are invariably worse - loads of blocking, fuzziness and bad lighting... This production of Emma doesn't have any of that because its trump card is 2009 HIGH DEFINITION filming... Filmed in HD, every frame is gorgeous - and it's been lit with HD in mind, so interiors of great halls, the upholstery of regal chairs, the intricate stitching in gowns, the lacework of shawls, the silk of scarves, the weaved threads of dapper waistcoats - all of it - is there for you to see in endlessly fabulous detail.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe - where's the BLU RAY? My wife and I watched the 4 parts of "Emma" as it was broadcast on Sunday nights in standard definition, but recorded it to the hard-drive the following Tuesday night when it was broadcast in HD - and the difference couldn't have been more marked. We watched BOTH versions in other words. It's TWICE AS GOOD in HD - and a genuine thing of wonder to look at - so where's the BLU RAY with the HIGH DEF picture?

"Young Victoria" is the same, a superb little period film with beautiful production work put into it - put out only on DVD when it would have been a breathtaking BLU RAY... (I wonder how many sales they lost because of that?)

I won't buy "Emma" on DVD because it short-changes my viewing pleasure and in some sort of strange way - does the whole effort put into it by the BBC a massive disservice.

If it was filmed in HD - and looks best in that - then why sell it in a sub-standard format? Let's dump DVDs for God's sake (which have quickly become worthless across a vast number of titles - I know - we sell them second-hand and they're fast becoming as useless as CD) and move on... The DVD is dead - and BLU RAY is its replacement - and this progression is not going to be stopped...

Paying money for Emma on DVD is like buying an out-of-date computer, it will work, but when you see the new 27" iMac with its beautiful reproduction graphics, you know you've made a huge mistake and someone conned you out of your cash...

Five stars for the series then, but docked one star for its release on DVD-only - which ultimately short-changes the buying public and denies them a proper choice when purchasing...

PS: : three other Romola Garai movies worth checking out are “Inside I’m Dancing”, “Amazing Grace” and “I Capture The Castle”
And three Jonny Lee Miller films are “The Flying Scotsman”, “Melinda and Melinda” and “ Plunkett and MacLeane”

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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