the death of VHS, disappearing films, and the state of cinephilia

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Two Boots had a VHS fire sale?! Shit...

http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/the-vanishing-20090226

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 16:22 (ten years ago) link

I saw Providence on VHS not long ago and was surprised it wasn't available on DVD.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 16:30 (ten years ago) link

A rather testy but well-argued, NYC-hatin' response to the above piece:

http://cinemasparagus.blogspot.com/2009/02/paroxysms-of-mourning.html

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:02 (ten years ago) link

Like the Hawaiian crow and the Chinese river dolphin, Costa-Gavras's 1972 Uruguayan political thriller State of Siege is effectively extinct.

well, good, it's a fucking terrible movie.

Judd Nelson (special guest stars mark bronson), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:04 (ten years ago) link

"it is among hundreds of important and critically acclaimed films no longer readily accessible for home viewing."

is absolutely hilarious, not because um it isn't "important" but "huundreds"? really, hundreds? is that all? there are *thousands* of totally films out there that are very very hard to see. and that's been the case forever. with dvd there's more out there than in any previous decade.

Judd Nelson (special guest stars mark bronson), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:05 (ten years ago) link

Someone should just give Kaufman a karagarga invite.

caek, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:06 (ten years ago) link

who cares what nrq thinks is terrible?

...Bueller? (populist)

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:08 (ten years ago) link

yay sociopathy

caek, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:11 (ten years ago) link

"With every new shift in media technology, from 16mm to VHS, from traditional broadcast to cable TV, from VHS to DVD, huge numbers of films are lost"

and found. but why not just say "huge numbers of films are lost," it isn't the end of the world. i sort of feel sorry for people who want to rent sam fuller's 'hell and high water'. learning to live with loss is an important life skill.

Judd Nelson (special guest stars mark bronson), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:12 (ten years ago) link

who cares what anyone thinks is terrible? by all means, go an watch an unremarkable sub thriller from 1955, why not? don't kid yourself it's any better than (idk) 'vantage point' though.

Judd Nelson (special guest stars mark bronson), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:12 (ten years ago) link

what a terrible article

no country for heigel-lohan (Lamp), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:13 (ten years ago) link

But it is literally impossible for an amateur to transfer movies from one format to another without thousands of pounds worth of expensive equipment!

Peaches Gandalf (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:14 (ten years ago) link

i was going to make a joke about having to exist in a world where i couldnt rent a turkish version of e.t. but basically fuk this dude srsly

no country for heigel-lohan (Lamp), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:16 (ten years ago) link

once internet distros gets rolling a lot of these movies will be availabled - could lead to a the preservation of a lot of movies currently decaying in film vaults - u only got to digitize the one time and once the price of producing and marketing dvds is cut out it doesnt really cost thaaat much - and one would think as the technology get better itll cost less and less all the time

who knows morbs in a few years u may hav kims library in yr set top box

ice cr?m, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:18 (ten years ago) link

whatever that is.

plz destroy I Love Film

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:19 (ten years ago) link

morbz are you really going to stan for the medium of vhs????

no country for heigel-lohan (Lamp), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:20 (ten years ago) link

"of totally important films out there that are very very hard to see"

i meant. im writing a thesis about films that were simply destroyed when sound came along. some of them would have been worth keeping, but most of them not. i don't even follow the logic that because something was on vhs and isn't on dvd, thatr it's lost. more than likely, as has happened with hundreds of films, it will come to dvd at some point.

xpost

nothing is perfect. digitized films will disappear, everything will.

Judd Nelson (special guest stars mark bronson), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:21 (ten years ago) link

plz destroy I Love Film

Yay, now I have you on board.

Nurse Detrius (Eric H.), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:26 (ten years ago) link

Now I just need James Redd to join the cause.

Nurse Detrius (Eric H.), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:28 (ten years ago) link

the digitized movie cloud will be foreveeeer

ice cr?m, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:29 (ten years ago) link

i'm going to live on for all time and i remember movies perfectly so basically when the its the futre ppl will just pyschically d/l movies from my brain to their float scrns to watch

no country for heigel-lohan (Lamp), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:34 (ten years ago) link

in the future all movies will be sweded

ice cr?m, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:48 (ten years ago) link

in the future all movies will be good

Nurse Detrius (Eric H.), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:51 (ten years ago) link

I still own at least 50 videocassettes – I watched The Opposite of Sex last night. Man, I forgot how much space they can occupy.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 18:54 (ten years ago) link

I like rewinding back 20 seconds sometimes.

BKR seems like one of the 10 best American films of last year, btw.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 20:17 (ten years ago) link

you can rewind dvds now btw

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 3 March 2009 20:19 (ten years ago) link

im writing a thesis about films that were simply destroyed when sound came along. some of them would have been worth keeping, but most of them not

You could go on about this more, maybe. It's an interesting (and rather depressing) subject to me. I don't know if I agree with the "...most of them not" A lot of the more "mundane" programmer silent films I have have been the ones I've enjoyed the most.

Pashmina, Tuesday, 3 March 2009 21:28 (ten years ago) link

Pash, let celluloid burn, it's the trendy thing to do

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 4 March 2009 14:45 (ten years ago) link

You could go on about this more, maybe. It's an interesting (and rather depressing) subject to me. I don't know if I agree with the "...most of them not" A lot of the more "mundane" programmer silent films I have have been the ones I've enjoyed the most.

― Pashmina, Tuesday, March 3, 2009 10:28 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

yea im studying (well, among other stuff) british film from the 1920s. heck of a lot of it, from the first part of that decade, was just melted down. but then there isn't a hell of a lot from before the 1920s left either. no national archive till 1935. so you have a (by all accounts) major filmmaker like george pearson (worked a lot with music-hall star betty balfour, biggest british movie star of the decade), and almost nothing survived.

it's a shame, but i have mixed feelings on this subject. i watch and enjoy a lot of films from the past. they've come to be available by whatever means. occasionally there's something i wish were available. but things are infinitely better now than 10 years ago. the idea that the decline of vhs means films will disappear is mindboggling. like, what, those films only existed on magnetic tape?

Jesus Lulz (special guest stars mark bronson), Wednesday, 4 March 2009 14:51 (ten years ago) link

Eh, I read a bit of that article, there's some kind of a germ of a point, in that you could/can get a bunch of films, say, "Palmy Days" or "Ever Green" on VHS (also on laserdisc in the past) but not on DVD, but it didn't seem to well argued or well-written to me. It was a bit waffly. Also this:

"Concentrating on technical quality eliminates 90 percent of American film history," says Kehr, who notes that a film like Frank Borzage's Man's Castle could never come out on DVD, because only a dupe negative exists in studio vaults.

...is kind of bollocks, given that Fox recently released a set of Murnau and Borzage films of DVD! Supposedly the source print used for "Sunrise" was a dupe of a dupe. (Talk about hanging by a thread!)

I know shit about British film from the 1920's, apart from the received wisdom re apart from Alfred Hitchcock and "A Cottage on Dartmoor" it was all rubbish (often suspected this wasn't true, but never had any way of finding out). As far back as I go is looking at those Gracie Fields, Anna Neagle and George Formby collections that Canal Plus put out and sometimes thinking about buying them (also: wishing they'd put out a Jessie Matthews set) I'd be interested in hearing what you discover as you go along. If you are able to find out anything about the following british titles: "The Way of Lost Souls" (aka "The Woman he Scorned") (1929) "Perfect Understanding" (1933) &/or "Lily Christine" (1932) I'd be especially interested, the latter especially, I think it's lost, but I'm not sure.

In any case, being into silent films, and being in the UK, it's a lot better for me now than it was in the eighties. I remember waiting about 6 weeks for a VHS copy of "Steamboat Bill Jr" to arrive, and that was the ONLY TITLE I COULD LOCATE AT ALL for about 2-3 years. I pretty much gave up until the internet sparked my interest again. Now, I can actually watch a flapper movie or a Pola Negri film, stuff I was curious about for years, but never able to actually see.

Pashmina, Wednesday, 4 March 2009 19:55 (ten years ago) link

I know shit about British film from the 1920's, apart from the received wisdom re apart from Alfred Hitchcock and "A Cottage on Dartmoor" it was all rubbish (often suspected this wasn't true, but never had any way of finding out).

well yeah, this is what 20% of my thing is about! the difficulty is basically arguing that there were good things, but they no longer exist. or really: there were talented people but the circumstances were inauspicious. some people have written a bit about it recently: chr1stine gl3dh1ll for one. my angle is more to do with how hitchcock came to be hitchcock... and this dude pearson. the story that gets told is more or less: everyone was hopelessly provincial before hitchcock and asquith; and hitchcock and asquith took their inspiration from german and russian film. i will write those titles down.

Jesus Lulz (special guest stars mark bronson), Wednesday, 4 March 2009 20:16 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

yea im studying (well, among other stuff) british film from the 1920s. heck of a lot of it, from the first part of that decade, was just melted down.

saw this: http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/everson_interview.html ...somewhat interesting interview w/William K Everson, and noted, somewhat related to the above:

S.G.: Along these lines, the story about the BFI catalogue of their hundred most wanted, you've got three I believe?

W.K.: I've got three of them, Kevin Brownlow has one and I know there is one other in circulation. The annoying thing about that catalogue is about 72 or 73 of the films are Warner Bros. films and about 25 years ago Warner Bros. offered all their collection to the BFI and the BFI wanted to select and Warner Bros said "no, take everything or nothing" and BFI said "fine, nothing" so they junked everything. The very least the BFI could have done was to have said "alright, we'll take everything" and then themselves taken only what they could afford to keep. But there's some tremendous stuff in there. At least half a dozen Michael Powell's. The Warner Bros. films were very carefully made, they were not just made to comply with legal requirements. There was some first rate filmmaking in there. Many of them were remakes of American films. It's extremely interesting to see an American Bette Davis vehicle suddenly transposed into a British rural milieu. It is completely changed but the basic plot remained.

A.B.: Those would have been for quota quickies?

W.K.: Yes, except that some of the Warner quota quickies ran as much as eight reels. They were good pictures and one or two of them were released over here, like MR.COHEN TAKES A WALK which is a charming film. Its an absolute tragedy that the B.F.I. could have had them all.

A.B.: When they junk them do they just throw them out?

W.K.: They destroy them in a way that retrieves the silver unless they are just so far decomposed that they will just burn them...carefully.

I had never heard this story before - hard to imagine this happening now. I gogled but couldn't find what actually was on the BFI "hundred most wanted" list or any mention of it beyond this interview.

I wonder what the 10/20/however many "most wanted" lost films actually are in 2009.

mroo (Pashmina), Wednesday, 8 April 2009 18:19 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

....you could/can get a bunch of films, say, "Palmy Days" or "Ever Green" on VHS (also on laserdisc in the past) but not on DVD....

"Evergreen" (1934) out next week:

http://tinyurl.com/ous2kg

kr0p3r0m:a9ff (Pashmina), Saturday, 23 May 2009 13:47 (ten years ago) link

four years pass...

Some Looking for Mr. Goodbar talk on another thread--I've got a VHS copy--got me to finally figure out how to hook up my old VCR to the big-screen. At first I tried to over-think the hookup, and it took me about 20 minutes; turned out to be the easiest configuration possible.

I've got so many tapes downstairs, both store-bought and home-taped, that I haven't watched for at least five years. (Before buying the big-screen, I had a VCR give out on me--replaced the machine, but it sat there downstairs unused.) I immediately went on a search for Altman's Buffalo Bill, which I got at a store closing about 10 years ago and never watched. Couldn't find it, but I've put aside Who Is Harry Kellerman, The Hospital, and Breaking Away for the rest of the week. Three most un-VHS store-bought things I noticed: The Sacrifice, The Merchant of the Four Seasons, and Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason.

clemenza, Monday, 10 March 2014 18:26 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

so. many. memories. this Tumblr is fantastic (and not entirely Safe For Work obvs)

http://vhscoverjunkie.tumblr.com/archive

totally forgot about double feature tapes!

http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_md5puwRbMC1qbapgqo1_500.jpg

piscesx, Wednesday, 23 April 2014 11:32 (five years ago) link

six months pass...

a documentary about VHS collectors

http://www.fandor.com/keyframe/vhs-obsessed-adjust-your-tracking

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 4 November 2014 03:46 (five years ago) link

Ooh, thanks. My girlfriend collects VHS and it's been great for my movie-viewing habits. Plus it's just fun since tapes are almost always a buck or less, so you can kinda buy 'em on a whim or think of it as a "rental." We've swooped in on a couple of stores going out of business and loaded ourselves up with enough viewing for the next decade or something... but tapes also make it more fun to pick what you're watching tonight...fewer choices, weighty enough that you really have to pull a few off the shelf, lay them out and make a choice by whatever system. I like the darn things, shitty awful pan-n-scan and all, though with the latter in mind, the format really is best for Academy ratio films, direct-to-video, and dubious would-be blockbusters that were almost made to be tossed into the rental market back in the day.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 4 November 2014 04:10 (five years ago) link

two months pass...

Hard to pick a thread for this... Brody on Amos Vogel and Cinema 16:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/limits-american-cinephilia

touch of a love-starved cobra (Dr Morbius), Friday, 23 January 2015 20:40 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Excellent megamix of VHS footage

https://vimeo.com/76346612?outro=1

Foster Twelvetrees (Ward Fowler), Sunday, 11 September 2016 20:56 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

Forcing myself, in advance of a move, to take four boxes of duplicates that I also have on DVD to the Salvation Army. You'd think that would be the most obvious thing in the world, but I initially boxed them all up for the move, then unboxed them and removed the duplicates. Rosemary's Baby, Sweet Smell of Success, three copies of Taxi Driver...tomorrow's your lucky day, Luddite person out there.

clemenza, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:38 (two months ago) link


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