I’ve had my top-of-the-line Sony 65″ 4K TV since last March, but until last night I’d never watched a feature film in 4K streaming. Mainly because I was presuming that only CG flotsam flicks were available in this format, and I really couldn’t give less of a shit about watching Independence Day Resurgence, The Martian and San Andreas in 4K. Thanks all the same.
But last night I shelled out $20 bills in order to watch Amazon’s 4K streaming version of Lawrence of Arabia, and I was really, seriously stunned by the micro-detail.
I’ve seen the restored, 8K-scanned Lawrence digitally projected via DCP under high-end conditions and at home via 1080p Bluray, and the 4K streamed version (which is not real-deal 4K due to intense compressing, I’m told, but somewhere between 2K and 4K) is really a cut above.
Every now and then the digital cache-ing would slow down and the 4K sharpness would fuzz out, but for the first time in my life I was noticing textures (wood, sand, wardrobe threads, even the subtle composition of fine cement in the opening credits sequence) that I’d literally never seen before, not with this degree of crispness and clarity, and that’s saying something.
I’m told that as good as this version of Lawrence may have appeared to my bespectacled eyes, the 4K Bluray, which may be released sometime in ’17, will look even better.
Right now Amazon and Netflix are offering less than 50 4K streaming features for rent or sale, and most of them are 21st Century eye-candy for the cretin class. But once classic films (and particularly those shot in 70mm and Vista Vision) start appearing in 4K Bluray (or 3840 x 2160 pixels) to some degree…that‘s when I’ll pop for a new Oppo 4K player.
Obviously Ultra High Definition Blurays are a niche concept. There are only 70,000 4K Bluray players out there as we speak. But there’s a “huge difference” between 4K streaming and 4K Bluray, I was told this morning by a high-end tech guy. The barbarians don’t care about savoring textures of large-format films shot in the ’50s and ’60s, but I sure as hell do, I can tell you.
As far as I know there’s only one 4K Bluray of a film I respect and would like to-resavor in UHD — Goodfellas. (Which I hope will not be Brownfellas in 4K but a re-scan that won’t look like a film marinated in butterscotch sauce and lentil soup.)