We often think of home theaters as a way of enjoying the latest Hollywood blockbusters. We think of home theaters as the perfect way to bring those intense, mind-blogging special effects into our living rooms. We salivate at the bass-heavy booms of explosions and the blinding light of on-screen fires.
Home theater are a great way to bring today’s hottest movies right into your living room. However, they also provide an excellent way to rediscover the depth and quality of some classic films, too. Watching some of the all-time greats on a home theater system can be every bit as rewarding as checking out the next catastrophe film!
Most of us are familiar with many of the great movies through television. We were able to see some of the most influential film work of all times thanks to late night showings and specialty cable channels. Some of us with really intense interest may have even rented some videotapes along the way in order to see some of the great earlier films.
However, most of us still haven’t really seen the movies. Why not? Television tends to use a pan and scan technique instead of showing the full screen at any one time. Letterboxed videotapes were and remain relatively rare, meaning that even if you were to have rented a classic movie, you probably never saw it in its full scope and glory.
Additionally, problems endemic to videotape also acted as a stumbling block to enjoying the movies. A well-used tape suffers in quality. Video is not sufficiently crisp and audio can sound dull and muted. If one combines those limitations with the televisions upon which we were probably watching the movies, the lack of quality viewing is even more obvious.
Home theater systems offer an alternative and a great way to watch some of these glorious films in the way they were originally intended. Take for instance the classic David Lean movie Lawrence of Arabia. This classic film plays well even on ragged videotape. The story is powerful and compelling, the scenery gorgeous and the direction even-handed and sure.
However, those who first saw Peter O’Toole’s star making role on the big screen experienced something far different than those who have watched it on television in subsequent generations. One of the movies characters, in a sense, are the desert sands of Arabia. The vastness of the desert and its loneliness set the mood and spirit of this classic. On videotape, one sees the desert, but they never see the whole of Lean’s vision. They see a part of what he wanted to convey. It is almost the equivalent of going to the theater and having a curtain draped over one half of the screen!
Now, however, you can rent or purchase a completely digitally re-mastered copy of the film that features the proper cinematic ratios and perfect sound. A movie you may have though was "pretty good" will suddenly become a very appreciated classic upon a viewing with a great home theater system.
Other examples, of course, abound. It isn’t just the wide scope of a Lean film that is improved by watching on a great home theater system. All of the old classics are made somehow new again when presented the way they were intended to be seen and the results can be dramatic. It is as if we are witnessing these movies for the very first time.
Don’t limit your selection of viewing materials to the new release rack when you are looking for something to watch with your home theater system. Investigate some of the highly regarded classic films of the past. You will probably be amazed at some of the great filmmaking you missed simply because earlier technologies failed to delivery all that was necessary to enjoy them
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