For a long time now, I have believed that Blu-Ray is an unnecessary technology. DVDs offer better sound and picture quality than their Filofax-sized VHS predecessors. I don’t believe that they gained popularity because of their improved sound or picture quality, but because of the practicality they offered over VHS tapes.
For the eagle-eyed amongst us, Blu-Ray films are a massive improvement, but for people like me who need thick glasses lenses and can’t hear from spending too long in front of large speakers at gigs, the difference is unnoticed. On top of this, HD films will soon be available to stream online straight to your TV.
People will still watch pirated films recorded from the back of a cinema with people walking around in front, fuzzy picture quality and monophonic sound. If sound and picture quality were so important to us, the industry wouldn’t have any threat from piracy.
And so I mention The Adventures of Robin Hood made in 1938.
4:3 aspect ratio - Check.
Monophonic sound - Check.
Papier-mâché scenery – Check.
This is proof that you don’t need a high budget to make a good film. The castle sets could easily have been lifted from Legoland (ok, I admit Legoland didn’t exist in 1938). The sun was always shining and because of the limited camera technology, the colours often made it look akin to Disney’s cartoon. What’s more, it’s only 51 minutes long – much less than the 6 hours they expect you to survive in cinemas nowadays without sacrificing any of the brilliance. I think the lack of multi-trillion dollar special effects actually adds to the fight scenes. The sounds are natural and often tinny. Many scenes where men are jumping from trees (which were easily 8ft high) are more realistic than modern films in their simplicity of letting men jump from trees rather than having multi-link supar extra scoobydoobalix (I confess I completely made that word up) wires and harnesses that can’t be traced by cameras. Even if you could clearly see a rope, it wouldn’t matter. Theatre is hardly renowned for its use of CGI, and it’s been popular for millennia.
The content, storyline and direction of the film were all impeccable - as can be expected from many films of this era. The quick-witted humour, the innocent and playful fight scenes, the natural athleticism of the actors and of course, a ridiculous disregard for health and safety.
The acting – and the casting - is perfect, the wit is perfect, the storyline works, Robin Hood wears tights and the chain mail is removed using zips. It may not have the realism of Ridley Scot’s take on the storyline, but I bet it’s 10 times more entertaining and will take nearly an hour less to watch.
Another point I’d like to make on modern films (particularly ones with Russel Crowe in) : (See video)
The Adventures of Robin Hood on IMDB
After Hours (1985)