Music From The Movies DVD Column: Archived, and Good to Go

Why bother archiving old columns for DVD releases with unique film music content from years ago? Is it ego? Or just the cold hard fact that words written - good, bad, or blatherish - can vanish when a site folds?

If one comes from a print background, the discomfort is when the physical medium of one's work is no longer in print, and the content can't be reproduced without reproducing the many pages on actual paper (unless it's a digital incarnation, or is available online via organizations like Project Gutenberg Canada). However, a copy of the book still physically exists somewhere, whether in a used shop, flea market, collector marketplace, or in the office of some grand little knob using amazondotwherever to sell an esoteric book for $250 because it's out of print.

For some reason, it just seems scarier when the loss of one's words occur in a digital medium because all kinds of things can destroy the data. The medium goes dead tech and starts to bugger up, making the backup version corrupt (like a 100 MB zip drive). Or the backup copies on CDR contain the same singular backup copies from an incomplete master copy made from the defunct medium prior to a massive hard drive crash. Or that mighty old standby, Google's cache, no longer keeps your column because it's either now a dead link, or because the traffic has sufficiently subsided and no one's keyword searches are bringing it up, causing the cache containing your words to become null and voided.

The smart thing to do is keep a hardcopy of one's digital work - a printout - but I think we've taken it for granted that, because so many words move around us, they can't possibly disappear, which is why the idea of bothering with a hardcopy seems silly. It takes up space, and who wants to go back to having boxes of physical crap on shelves in a small room when one is used to having a compact spindle of digital crap that takes up less that one square foot of drawer space?

In any event, it was quite surprising to discover all the online columns written between 2003-2008 were scattered all over the place, and the oldest (from 2003) were luckily saved on a CDRW that hasn't been used in eons. The only irony: the very first column is, uh, gone. I'm pretty sure it was a short, banal piece of work, but I'd like to have had the choice to not reprint it rather than have that choice made due to personal stupidity. (It may exist on an old hard drive image, but that version is outdated, and the current software version can't read the old one. So much for backwards compatibility.)

I've tweaked the index for the online column, reconfigured the text into a new template with surviving art, and linked certain film titles to any CD or DVD reviews already extant at Next week you should also be able to read the print column (as jpeg scans) - a column that was a whole different animal.

More importantly, with rare exceptions, I haven't changed any words, nor toned down any of the rants or repetitions, leaving whatever flaws or myopic predictions intact, because it's sometimes fun to see how wrong one can be, or when one gives up on specific criticisms simply because the major DVD labels don't always make bright decisions, be it in 2003, or 2009. (Amazing how not much has been learned as we move into the slow, clumpy popularity of Blu-ray - opinions for which I'll save for a future blog/rant.)

So among the material covered and fully reviewed in the archives are:

- Powell and Pressburger's Thief of Bagdad (Criterion)

- all four editions of the documentary series Music for the Movies from Kultur (The Hollywood Sound, Bernard Herrmann, Georges Delerue, and Toru Takemitsu)

- great jazz scores by Courtney Pine and Wycliffe Gordon in Criterion's Paul Robeson boxed set

- Criterion's Pandora's Box (featuring four newly commissioned scores)

- a portrait of filmmaker Tony Palmer, via his epic Wagner mini-series, and the Shostakovich bio-doc Testimony

- a portrait of Stelvio Cipriani, via the DVD releases of Death Walks on High Heels, Colt 38, Special Squad, and Convoy Busters

- and more, so check 'em out!



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