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August 31, 2003
DV-Do and DV-Don't

The TV aspect of the cable system in my area - the entire county, apparently, and perhaps beyond - went out last night, and is still out. My cable modem is fine. Odd.

So I popped a newly-acquired copy of Battle of Britain (1969) into the DVD player. I'd owned a VHS copy of the movie since I bought my first VCR in Korea in 1988 - it was the first movie I bought - and it is by far the most frequently-viewed film in my collection. The wear on the tape was really showing, so I ordered a DVD replacement, which sat on the shelf for two months before I watched it.

I've replaced a fair amount of my VHS collection with DVD, with mixed results. Many older films make good use of the DVD format - crisp clean images, excellent sound, and occasional bonus features. Others... well, others seem to have been rushed to the marketplace, made from any old print of the film on hand, and have no qualitative advantage whatsoever over their VHS predecessors, and are sometimes actually worse.

I started the movie... it was absolutely beautiful. The video was as clean as I've ever seen, the sound much richer than the VHS. The flying and aerial combat scenes were magnificent - far better than I remember the tape being, even when it was new. (And there is very little that will make me drool quite so much as a Spitfire.) The subtitles for the German dialog have been re-done, and included much dialog that had been ignored in the original.

[I don't know what some of those reviewers at Amazon are thinking. I've seen both the VHS and DVD versions, and the DVD is far superior.]

The movie has the additional virtue of being a true story, recorded on film at a time when a great many of the participants in the historical event were still alive. Many veterans - British and Germans, both - assisted with its creation. There's no historical revisionism going on in this film. (Oliver Stone, take note.)

Watching it was like seeing an old "tee-shirt & jeans" friend neatly turned out in Sunday-best clothes.


Oh, and... whoever put the DVD version of Zulu on the market needs an assegai stuck squarely into his chest.

Posted by Russ at 12:46 PM, August 31, 2003 in DVD

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