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Martin Scorsese's love affair with the laser disc

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Speaking from a cellular phone on the hectic Florida set where he’s shooting a remake of Cape Fear, director Martin Scorsese, 48, finds a moment between takes to chat about laser discs. He sounds like the talkie version of a sped-up silent movie: Everything’s rushed, jerky, faster than life. ”I love the idea of the platter itself, and the cleanliness — the pristine quality of the images,” he says. ”I mean, that’s better than videotape. Tape for me is antiquated, almost — I mean, it’s the unraveling of a spool of tape, and so much could happen to that. I get nervous about the metal particles in the oxide falling off.”

How big is his laser collection? ”It’s over a hundred, I know, and I’ve listed maybe another two hundred to buy.” Any favorite discs? ”God, that’s a good question. Well, the laser disc of The Magnificent Ambersons, where you get the whole storyboard structure with all the cut scenes. I guess it’s the closest we’ll ever come to the original film that Orson Welles wanted to make, you know? It’s an invaluable tool for learning. That’s why I hope more of the older films will be released on laser disc, so that the students of today and younger audiences can see them and study them. But you know,” he says, laughing, ”you’re talking to a person who doesn’t really have the time to look at a lot of these things.”

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