The Meaning of Life… without HD-DVD

With all the chatter over the recent Warner Brothers‘ HD-DVD announcement (see my last post), I completely forgot to mention that episode #100 of the Cinemaslave podcast has finally been released. Check it out at the main site. Topics include Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, I Am Legend, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and a look back at James Cameron’s seminal sci-fi film, The Terminator. I also spent some time trying to unravel the mystery behind the REAL director of Poltergeist. A good time was had by all. (Well, by me. Nuts to the rest of you.)

Rumors continue to fly that the Blu-Ray camp may soon extend an olive branch of sorts to mourning HD-DVD fans, though no details have yet materialized. But the expectation is that we’ll be looking at some sort of exchange program, in which HD-DVD discs can be swapped for their respective Blu-Ray versions. That’d be nice. It wouldn’t entirely take the sting out of being forced to switch to a more expensive (and region-coded!) movie format, but it would be a nice gesture nonetheless. For folks like me, who buy a large number of movies from overseas vendors, the HD-DVD format and its lack of region coding was a godsend. I do not look forward to having films stuffed back into small, arbitrary geographical boxes by Sony and its partners.

I sat down last night and popped in the HD-DVD of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, a disc I obtained about three days before the Warner Brothers defection, back when the future of the format still looked bright. I’ve always loved this movie, and seeing it for the first time ever in widescreen, and in hi-def to boot, was a real treat. The transfer was pretty solid considering the film’s age, and the sound was stellar. (Indeed, Terry Gilliam‘s delightful The Crimson Permanent Assurance, the short film which precedes the main feature, has perhaps the longest sustained use of a subwoofer I’ve ever heard, in the segment where the office building turns into a pirate ship and sails merrily down the street. I didn’t expect such a heavy bass workout from an early ’80s comedy! Well done, Universal.) A great movie, presented in a great format.

So many fun moments:

* The Crimson Permanent Assurance!
* “This is the machine that goes PING!”
* “Every sperm is sacred…”
* “Can we have your liver?”
* Eric Idle’s “Galaxy” song!
* John Cleese’s sex-education class!
* “Let’s not give him the cake!”
* “Oh sir, it’s just a WAFER thin mint…
* And of course, the Grim Reaper skit at the end is probably the most cinematic thing Python ever created.

The Meaning of Life may be a minor masterpiece, but it’s a masterpiece nonetheless.



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