The Vanishing

I don’t usually write such posts, but given the significance of the matter, I felt compelled to express my thoughts and add my voice towards the many other videos, posts and articles on this topic. This is the fact that something alarming is occurring in the world of movies — whilst at the risk of sounding over dramatic, I am not shy to say that classic movies and animations are vanishing.

I enjoy a great selection of movies, but it has come to my attention (more recently than I would like to admit) that there is a large array of classic movies and animations not available for streaming or digital purchase.

Crazy times

I like to watch movies from around the world and from many different decades, after all filmmaking is a world wide endeavour and limiting myself (or yourself) to movies just from one region means missing out on so many great movies. Such as, movies from 80s and those made in Hong Kong by John Woo, including Hard Boiled, The Killer or Bullet in the Head or Indian movies like Rang De Basanti staring Aamir Khan. But not just limited to live motion, there are many great animations as well such as the anime anthology, Memories, that includes Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder.

“Memories” is a compilation of three distinct animated science fiction anthology films released in 1995. Each segment, directed by a different filmmaker, explores various themes such as dystopia, artificial intelligence, and the human condition through unique storytelling and animation styles. The segments are “Magnetic Rose” directed by Koji Morimoto, “Stink Bomb” directed by Tensai Okamura, and “Cannon Fodder” directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The DVD offers viewers an engaging and thought-provoking journey through imaginative and visually stunning narratives.

Or comedic movies from the 1930s by the great comedian Will Hay (one of my all time favourite comedians). This list goes on, but I am sure you get the idea.

But I must admit over the last few years, I’ve been watching, on the whole, what has been available through streaming services, mainly Netflix, but also other services such as Amazon Prime, Google TV/Movies and some similar services.

However, recently I have made an effort to spend time curating my watch list and putting an effort in watching movies from around the world. I used to watch a far more broad selection of movies, but the ease of streaming has brought about some bad habits, so I decided to make a change.

The desire for this change was also brought about, by the fact, that on occasion I browse for ages through what’s available in Netflix and can’t find anything I fancy watching. This aside from being a windup, is plain crazy considering how many great movies have been made. On top of this, and more importantly I want to be able watch movies from the past (not just those made in the last 10 years).

So I went back to my long curated IMDB watch list and started searching for some of these movies online. But it quickly came to my attention that many of these movies were not available for streaming!

This is not just on Netflix. I searched on Google Movies, Amazon Prime, Plex. But at best, all I got was just a reference that the movie I searched for was not available to stream.

The Absence of many classic, action or just fun movies on streaming services is frankly awful and I would go as far too say that this is a cultural loss. Where many of these movies should be available to stream, but they are absent.

“Rang De Basanti” is a Bollywood film directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, released in 2006. The film intertwines past and present narratives, following a group of contemporary Indian university students who are inspired by the sacrifices of freedom fighters from the Indian independence movement.

The story begins with Sue, a British filmmaker, who seeks to make a documentary about Indian freedom fighters and enlists the help of a group of young men to play the roles of these historical figures. As the students immerse themselves in their roles, they become increasingly aware of the parallels between the struggles of the past and the social and political issues facing modern India.

In an era where streaming services reign supreme, providing us with a vast library of movies or TV shows at our fingertips, it’s disheartening to note that many cinematic greats are absent. This feels as though it’s leaving a huge void, that is unnecessary and depriving many movie lovers both young and old of the opportunity to watch many classics from the past.

The impact of this exclusion goes beyond inconvenience. It hinders the potential preservation and accessibility of cinematic history. Many of these films represent pivotal moments in the evolution of action, art and dramatic cinema, or are just great entertainment. So their absence from streaming platforms means that a younger generation of viewers may not experience them, unless they seek them out.

Hard Boiled,” directed by John Woo, is a landmark of Hong Kong action cinema. Released in 1992, it’s a film known for its iconic gunfights, breathtaking choreography, and stellar performances by Chow Yun-fat and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. It’s a movie that has left an indelible mark on the action genre, influencing countless filmmakers worldwide. Despite its status as a cult classic, it’s baffling that this masterpiece is not readily accessible on mainstream streaming platforms.

The absence of these movies on streaming services is not just a matter of concern for cinephiles and movie lovers alike. Many great movies from the past that at the time of release appealed to large audiences may be forgotten.

Modern Technology and Licensing

It’s crazy to think that with the amazing technology we have today for distributing and viewing movies online that the selection is so greatly limited.

It does have to be said that there are licensing costs and challenges involved in making some of these old movies available to stream. An article by Paul Schrodt in GQ, goes into this in more detail and the challenges getting many older movies to streaming services. It also highlights another movie – Game Day with Richard Lewis that has almost disappeared from sight.

However, it is hard to find information regarding licensing issues for each movie that is not available for streaming, and in some cases no information is available at all. But consider a quick google search can find many posts and videos on this topic, it would seem there is potential additional revenue here for a bit of effort (or perhaps a lot). But the shear lack of classic movies from any of the streaming services shows not much effort or focus (if any at all) is being made to make these movies available. 

Physical Media

A few of the DVDs I have recently purchased.

One could argue that these movies’ absence on streaming services highlights a need for a more comprehensive approach to film preservation and distribution.

0The good news is we still have DVDs and BluRay disks (and even VHS). There is nearly every movie you will not find on streaming available on disk.

So I have done something I thought I would not do again and that is I have gotten a DVD/Blu Ray player. And I’m thoroughly enjoying a selection of new (old) films to watch.

Perhaps, in the future, we will see a concerted effort to ensure that cinematic classics like “Hard Boiled” and “Old Mr Porter” will find a permanent home on streaming platforms, allowing new generations to appreciate their appeal.

An Honorable Mention

The classic French movie  “Three Colours: Red” (one of the ‘Three Colours’ movie trilogy), is not available for streaming, but can be purchased via online platforms such as Google Movies or Apple TV (at least in the UK). Still it’s absence from streaming platforms is a lose for many viewers.

“Three Colors: Red” is a film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, part of his “Three Colors” trilogy, representing the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Released in 1994, the movie focuses on the theme of fraternity.

The story follows the lives of two main characters, Valentine (played by Irène Jacob), a young model, and Joseph Kern (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant), a retired judge eavesdropping on his neighbors’ phone conversations. Valentine accidentally hits a dog with her car, leading her to meet the dog’s owner, a bitter and reclusive former judge.

As their lives become intertwined, they explore the complexities of human connections, chance encounters, and the interplay between fate and free will. The film delves into themes of loneliness, chance, and the impact of seemingly insignificant actions on people’s lives.

IN CONCLUSION

Of course, I am not the only person that has this concern! In fact I am late to this topic, and many others have written or made videos on this topic and a google search is easy to find them, such as this great vid from JoBlo Originals.

As a final note that although in the video below it mentions Roadhouse is not available for streaming – recently in the UK it has been made available for streaming on Netflix. How long it will be available for is another question, but it does highlight this is not a simple matter and many complex challenges such as costs, licensing and drive to put these movies online is coming together to leave many of these movies out of sight.