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Call Me the Latest Blu-ray Convert

2 Apr, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Monday night I suddenly got a real sinking feeling in my gut. I realized that my entire DVD collection, consisting of more than 2,000 titles (not counting children's and boxed sets) and crawling through my home like kudzu in the Southern wilds, is one day going to have to be replaced.

My epiphany came during a Blu-ray presentation in Santa Monica, Calif., during the Digital Hollywood conference. I had gone into it thinking well, next-gen DVD is fine and all, and while I'll certainly buy new releases on the new format once it becomes available sometime next year, my cherished catalog titles — Big Sleep, Mildred Pierce and other film noir are my personal favorites — will surely be with me forever.

But right after Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment president Benjamin Feingold talked about the new technology giving Hollywood “a much bigger canvas,” director Guillermo del Toro had to go and spoil my day.

The screening of excerpts from his upcoming Hellboy were impressive — nothing like seeing the pores on a demon's face — but what really did me in was the side-by-side showing of Lawrence of Arabia.

It reminded me of a magic moment more than seven years ago when I saw a similar split-screen showing of VHS and DVD, and right then and there vowed to do everything in my power to rid not just my home, but also the entire world, of those nasty, clunky videocassettes and send them straight to the scrap heap of flawed, and ultimately failed, technologies where they belong.

Well, guess what. I was expecting a difference — sharper lines here, a hair there, a more pronounced freckle, perhaps — but not this kind of difference. Desert bushes that blended into the foreground like smudges were all of a sudden sharp and clear as they passed from the DVD side to the Blu-ray side. The ripples of battle flags became touchable, feelable; the hordes of riders went from ant-like blurs to itty-bitty people, clear as crystal.

“The adult industry's going to have a field day with this” was among the first thoughts that came into my head.

The second was what to do with all those DVDs that suddenly don't seem all that precious anymore.

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