I'm recording and watching Pale Rider (HDNMV) again, and thinking about why this transfer seems so excellent. The movie is filmed mostly using nothing but natural light--light at the high mountain altitude in central Idaho, and it is a very harsh, clear light. But the director isn't afraid to let the light, both outdoors and indoors--dim candle lit indoors and light streaming in from the windows--compromise his shots, or mediate it with bounce. Quite the opposite. He uses this light to his advantage. A shot of a gunslinger on a horse, light coming in from over the shoulder, half the face brightly illuminated, half in shadow, creating a form of tension that no fill lighting can obtain. A shot with brilliant blue sky with a cabin, lit only with indirect light, the subject lit from behind. Blues are blue, greens green, skin tones rich and full of depth. A shot inside the cabin, with the subject looking out the window, illuminated only by exterior light, yet the face is full of depth, and the detail of the room blends into the darkness of its corners. While a better monitor may show more shadow detail, the detail shown by this transfer is amazing on the westy.
The movie goes on and on like this. I bring it up because I am stunned by the westy, in a way that no other movie has brought out, by its ability to display the image fully across the dynamic range of brightness and contrast, showing full color and fidelity. It takes a movie like Pale Rider to bring out this sort of excellence in a monitor, and create an atmosphere that cannot be appreciated in a lesser display. I guess this is the reason I moved to 1080p. Thoroughly engrossing.