Rewind to 1995
Let’s take a journey back 15 years, slap bang into the middle of the 90s, when Britpop ruled the airwaves and people still watched their films on videocassette. Here are some of the highlights, tech and otherwise, of the things that debuted that year.
The digital versatile disc, or DVD, was first shown to the world in 1995. Developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba and Time Warner, this CD-sized optical disc could hold an almost unthinkable 4.7GB of data on a single layer – around six times more information than a compact disc – making it ideal for storing high quality video and audio. Most commercially released DVDs were actually dual layered (and in the early days double-sided), so actually offered 9.4GB of space.
DVD revolutionised how we watched movies at home, driving the nails into the coffin of VHS and making a top notch home cinema experience with crisp pictures and eardrum-pounding surround sound available to the masses.
Album: Radiohead, “The Bends”
While later albums like OK Computer and Kid A would garner more critical acclaim, The Bends remains one of Radiohead’s best loved and most accessible albums, and the record with which it became clear that the band were a creative force to be reckoned with. Tracks like Street Spirit, Fake Plastic Trees and High and Dry remain fan favourites fifteen years later.
Of the many, many serial killer movies that were released in the 90s and noughties, Seven stands apart. Not only does the movie feature a tight screenplay, concerning a killer punishing what he sees as society’s “sins” in a unnamed, rain-lashed American metropolis, it also boasts fine performances by Morgan Freeman (no surprise there) and hitherto pretty boy Brad Pitt, showing off his acting chops for perhaps the first time.
Then there’s the aesthetic: director David Fincher’s trademark desaturated colours and clever camerawork give the movie an unforgettable look that contributes to the overall feeling of bleakness. And the final, gut-wrenching twist is to die for.
This Brit-developed futuristic racing title was among the first video games to be considered truly cool. Released for the Sony PlayStation (the first video games console to be considered truly cool), WipEout saw you race sleek floating vehicles against each other, attaining brain-meltingly fast speeds and using power ups to fox your opponents.
The graphics were, for the time, nothing short of mind-blowing, while the soundtrack featured cutting edge dance acts like Leftfield, Orbital and The Chemical Brothers.
Book: Northern Lights
Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy only truly hit the mainstream’s radar in the noughties, but the first (and many would say best) of the three fantasy novels was published way back in 1995.
Set in a universe parallel to our own, Northern Lights plants the reader in a world that is both familiar and fantastical, where people’s souls are manifested as animal-shaped daemon companions, bears talk and witches fly on tree branches. While often classed as a children’s book, Northern Lights’ complex characters and themes make it a compelling read for adults.