Well, we’ve been waiting with eager anticipation to discover which silent film would be the first to get the Blu-Ray treatment, with speculation upon speculation as to what, say, Criterion, might eventually be able to offer us. And now we have what I think is the first silent film to be offered commercially in High Definition, and the winner is… The Story of Petroleum.
Yes, the 25mins 1923 US Bureau of Mines and the Sinclair Oil Company documentary which was included as a surprise extra on the DVD release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (previously reported here) has been given the HD treatment, scratches and damaged sections coming out at the viewer in all their heightened glory.
There’s a review of the disc, which gives mention to the silent short, on Audiophile Audition. There is no HD-DVD release scheduled, as Paramount have announced they will no longer be producing HD-DVD titles.
In fact, I believe the first silent to have been given any sort of HD transfer was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger, produced by Granada International, which was scheduled to have a screening on the MGMHD channel before being mysteriously withdrawn at the last minute and replaced by Paul Morrissey’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (again, as reported earlier). This I have seen, but only a DVD copy, and where and in what form it will eventually appear in public I don’t know. But first out commercially, and definitely first on Blu-Ray is The Story of Petroleum. The bookies will have made a killing.
Unless anyone knows differently?