Pure Poetry in motion.
That's a poor attempt to describe this landmark movie. I was lucky to see it at least a dozen times at DC's Uptown Theater where it premiered. Shown in 70mm 6 channel stereo on the deeply curved Cinerama screen, to this very day it's the most visually breathtaking film I've ever seen, and the gold standard for what big format film can look like.
So last night I load up the Blu-ray version and kicked back to watch my favorite scenes. I know from memory how each scene must look, and in a few cases, this was achieved on my 100" screen. The scene when the apeman figures out how to use a bone as a weapon was always my favorite -I remember I had to hold on to the chair at the Uptown as the music swelled to a crescendo and the camera showed the fury in the apeman's face and actions growing, shot facing up from ground level.
And Blu-ray comes closer that any other format I've seen to reproducing the visual and sonic power of the 70mm presentation - but alas, close but no cigar. Frankly, the transfer is a mixed bag - some shots seemed dull and lifeless, others were rich, detailed, and full of depth. The sound quality is my biggest disappointment. In the roadshow presentation at the Uptown, five channels are behind the screen, and the side and rear speakers are used for effects. The action on the wide screen tracked perfectly, and the best use of the side/rear channels was HAL's voice. It was startling! All actor's voices were well placed on the screen, but HAL's voice seemed to come from everywhere. Unfortunately, this did not translate to the current remastered version for Blu-ray, and I assume HD-DVD. Also, the limitations of movie soundtrack recording in 1968 is quite apparent - very compressed and harsh in many scenes. The famous trip scene is particularly harsh, but the low frequency effects are powerful.
I guess I'll never again in my lifetime experience the sheer joy of watching this great classic movie presented in all it's roadshow glory.
Those who die with the most toys ... are still dead!