Movie News & Reviews

Some movies are just too big to watch on YouTube

Movies are increasingly creeping online, as video sites including YouTube and Hulu are adding feature films to their extensive libraries.

At the Google-owned YouTube, there is the YouTube Screening Room, which every two weeks adds four films — mostly independent works — to the site. Hulu, the joint creation of NBC Universal and News Corp., has hundreds of films available for stream, from Basic Instinct to Wuthering Heights.

Of course, many people download films illegally on BitTorrent sites, but movies are nevertheless becoming more populated — legally — online.

Hulu recently added 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, which raises the question: Should anyone watch a nearly four-hour epic of sweeping grandeur on their laptop? Or, heaven forbid, their cell phone?

Here are the top 10 films that should never be brought down to size:

1. Lawrence of Arabia: David Lean's film, which won seven Oscars including best picture, was made for the big screen — particularly as projected in all of its 70 millimeter glory. Although Hulu (like YouTube) streams films in high quality, the hugeness of the Arabian desert loses something when dwarfed to a 4-by-6-inch screen.

2. Last of the Mohicans: Michael Mann's 1992 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's novel pulses with the raw nature of early America so much that film critic David Thomson has written that he expected William Wordsworth to pop up at any moment. You won't get that rugged feeling on a computer.

3. Jaws: Really, how scary can that shark be if he's 2 inches tall?

4. North by Northwest: Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic is just too big for your computer. It's almost too big for a movie screen. The film, after all, includes a chase with an airplane, Bernard Herrmann's robust score, Mount Rushmore and, well, Cary Grant in sunglasses.

5. Star Wars: It's true, a hologram of Princess Leia on your computer is just about as fitting as one of on CNN. But do you really want to see the Death Star explode next to your e-mail?

6. WarGames: There isn't anything so cinematic about this 1983 thriller starring Matthew Broderick. But watching a movie about Cold War-era paranoia in which a computer threatens to bomb the world might cause you to panic out of distrust for all things computerized and throw your laptop out the window.

7. Barry Lyndon: The same computer rebellion of WarGames might also apply to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the Kubrick film that deserves the absolute best presentation is his 1975 period piece. The cinematography by John Alcott — including a candlelit scene shot with NASA-developed camera lenses — is best seen projected in the dark.

8. Raiders of the Lost Ark: You have to worry that a story about an adverture-seeking archaeologist with a whip fetish who gets chased by boulders might seem a tad unrealistic when shrunk down from the big screen. (But feel free to be disappointed by the latest, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, on whatever platform you like.)

9. The Third Man: Carol Reed's 1949 film is one of the most exquisitely shot films ever and is meant for the movie theater. Also, a Web junkie might take the wrong lesson from The Third Man. The Internet has a way of depersonalizing people, much in the way that Orson Welles famously looks down at far-below humans from atop a Ferris wheel in The Third Man, caring nothing if the “little dots” stopped moving.

10. You've Got Mail: It's just a little too cutesy to watch this romantic comedy on your computer, don't you think?