The fancy High Def TV had turned onto the Disney Channel where Selena Gomez and her TV brother David Henrie were up to no good again and I knew something about it wasn’t right. At first I thought maybe it was the flashy colors and filming style of the tween-friendly Wizards of Waverly Place, but then we found Pirates of the Caribbean on the SyFy channel and that’s when I realized that high def is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Just as dear Miss Swann fainted off the stone wall and into the ocean below, I half expected Roger Watson to interrupt the Commodore’s soliloquy and say something like, “Fainting spells were quite common for young ladies of the 18th century. Tight corsets worn for beauty often resulted in difficulty breathing. In this case, the consequences could have been disastrous.”
Ring a bell? It reminded me of the cheap 90s documentaries we sat through in junior high about the civil war or state history. Every scene looked like a set and the actors looked, how shall we say? …Filmed? Instead of the illusion of reality, those documentaries provided moving, talking images to make the information more palatable. That’s what I felt I was watching instead of the multi-million dollar production of Jack Sparrow’s adventurous underworld. And instead of losing myself in said underworld as usual, I was wondering why in the world I felt so close to Johnny Depp. It was creeping me out.
Could it be that, in an attempt to one-up ourselves in digital technology, we’re actually cheapening the experience of film? Personally, I don’t want to watch movies that way. I want to watch a movie without feeling like I’m “watching a movie”…if that makes any sense. In other words, there should be a barrier between my reality and the character’s reality. On this HDTV, no such barrier existed.
Granted, Blu Ray does have its technological advantages when it comes to storage space and the read/write features, but with all that HD “detail,” audiences’ suspension of belief will soon be a thing of the past. What are we film makers supposed to do with that? The only ones who will be finding the silver lining here are the low-budget educational documentary makers. They just may be poised for a comeback.