Remasters gone wild

I’m a bit of a sucker for remastered music. I’ve rejoined the BMG music club three times for the remastered Paul Simon and Bob Dylan libraries alone. I’ve bought The Who’s Live at Leeds twice (expanded CD reissue and Deluxe Edition 2-CD set); The Clash’s London Calling twice (pre-remaster CD and 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition 2-CD/1-DVD set); and The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet twice (original CD and remastered CD/SACD hybrid), among others — though I’ve largely resisted the shameless re-rerepackaging of Elvis Costello’s albums. (Out of all my cremastered CDs, the only ones I can truly tell are an upgrade are The Band’s first two albums.)

I’ve also avoided the even more shameless repackaging of movies for various DVD reissues. So while I understand the intended audience of the Criterion Collection’s two-disc reissue of The Ice Storm (i.e. suckers like me), I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this in the Washington Post’s review:

Thanks to the Criterion Collection, releasing “The Ice Storm” today in a two-disc set ($39.95), the movie has a shot at rediscovery. The restored digital transfer, accompanied by audio commentary from Lee and screenwriter/producer James Schamus, allows viewers to see every detail in all its exquisite, retro glory. (emphasis added)

Keep in mind that The Ice Storm came out in 1997. I love the implication that the original print was found peeling and crumbling in some dank movie studio vault, and had to be restored to its full glory … 11 years after it originally came out.

And now that Sony has won the high-def DVD war, I guess we should brace ourselves for the coming Blu-ray remasters. Imagine the ad copy for the 2010 Transformers Blu-ray Legacy Edition: “You’ve never seen imaginary giant talking robot trucks like this before! Watch Shia LaBeouf talk to a car in this high-definition, luminously restored digital transfer that rescues a modern classic from the blurry, fading, what-were-they-thinking 2007 original digital file!”

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