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DVD tidbits

Posted at 4:31 PM on October 17, 2005 by Euan Kerr

I was back home in Scotland over the last couple of weeks, and while my mind was a long way from the movies most of the time, I did stumble over a couple of interesting things.

First of all, I was stunned to discover newspapers giving away free DVDs. I'm not talking about 'collect-a-coupon-every-day-this-week-and-mail-them-in-for-a-movie' kind of offers, but an actual DVD of a quality movie that dropped in my lap with the Sunday magazine. I got "Indochine" with Catherine Deneuve from the "Independent on Sunday," and was a little disappointed that I left just before it delivered Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire."

These are not new films (1992 and 1987 respectively) but they both caused a great stir when they came out. "Wings" won Wenders the best director prize at Cannes and "Indochine" took the best foreign language film Oscar and Golden Globe in 1993.

While I can see why the newspapers are giving the films away, I have to wonder what the advantage is for the film makers. Perhaps they can count the giveaway as sales, and boost numbers in some corporate report. Certainly it will excite interest in the film-makers other movies. Anyone out there got any ideas?

(I have to admit I had to bite my tongue when I was in line to go through security in Amsterdam on the way home. The couple ahead of me had a couple of very full bags, and when the woman reached for her passport, one of her purchases spilled out. It was a copy of "Indochine" fresh from the duty free shop.)

There was also a tidbit floating around on one of the techie sites about the HD DVDs which will apparently be in our not-too-distant-future. If you haven't seen HD (High Definition) TV, it's worth checking out. HD more than doubles the number of lines used to create the image on a TV screen. The makers claim the image is comparable to a 35mm film print, and a number of film-makers are now shooting and editing in HD, then transferring to film. Robert Altman used two linked HD camera to shoot the "Prairie Home Companion" movie here in St Paul earlier this year.

You can already get HD TVs and HD DVDs are not far behind. Apparently there is a bit of wrangling going on over the format somewhat akin to the beta/vhs battle of the videotapes, which will have to be sorted.

One bit of great news though is the demise of the accursed region codes which have thwarted so many of us who have brought movies unavailable in the US back from our travels, only to find they won't work here. Yes, I know you can play them on the computer, but it's a pain. I for one am celebrating. Now I can get down to whining about how I am going to have to buy a new DVD machine.

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