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Scorsese: Blu-ray Is Incredible

3 Nov, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Martin Scorsese

Celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorsese has emerged as one of Blu-ray Disc’s biggest cheerleaders, praising the high-definition format for faithfully recreating the theatrical experience better than any of its predecessors, including DVD.

“The main idea [behind home video] has always been to have the viewer at home experience the best possible sound and picture,” Scorsese said at the Nov. 3 Blu-Con 2.0 conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Blu-ray Disc offers viewers the chance to see the film as it was meant to be seen. It’s impossible to fully recreate the experience of seeing a movie in the theater, but Blu-ray is as close as you’re going to get.”

Scorsese keynoted the event live via satellite from his home in New York City. His 20-minute address was moderated by Grover Crisp, SVP of assistant management, film restoration and digital mastering for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

An avid movie buff who has been collecting films and film memorabilia for more than 40 years, Scorsese, 67, said even he was amazed by the clarity of the Blu-ray Disc picture.

“The major difference between the DVD and the Blu-ray Disc image is that when the logo comes up it almost appears to be in 3D, the clarity is so strong,” Scorsese said. “The home viewer is demanding the best quality they can get, and Blu-ray gives them that.”

Indeed, sometimes Blu-ray Disc producers have to exercise caution, as they did with Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. After the film was restored, Crisp said, the strings holding up the airplane were clearly visible, so it was decided to remove them for the disc release.

“We had to ask ourselves, ‘What would Stanley have done,’ and we decided he would have taken them out,” Crisp said.

“You want things to remain accurate,” Scorsese added, “but not make it show the strings on the airplane.”

The director of such films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed also applauded Blu-ray Disc’s superior audio capabilities, including the option of including the original mono or “crude stereo” soundtracks along with the enhanced sound choices.

When asked by a member of the audience which film he has most enjoyed watching on Blu-ray, Scorsese thought for a moment, and then answered, The Searchers.

“The Blu-ray of that picture is incredible,” he said. “Something about the beauty of the landscape and the nature of the faces — you put it on just to check something out, and you can’t take it off.”

Scorsese added that the clarity of Blu-ray allows classic movies to look new and crisp again, making them a lot more palatable to younger audiences.

“Blu-ray will extend the life of movies,” Scorsese said. “I have a daughter who’s 10, and she can’t tell the difference between old films and new films.

“I remember seeing East of Eden [in a Los Angeles theater] years ago, and it was so grainy, it took away something from the movie, especially for the younger person I went to see the film with. There are subtle things, like not being able to see the actor’s eyes. With Blu-ray, you don’t have that problem.”

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