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Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick McCart, Aug 7, 2002.
Personally, I don't soft matte films intended for 1.33 to 16x9. But, some folks with widescreen sets like to, and everyone has their opinion, including Dan. To each his own?
So, is this the type of advice Joe Six-Pack will need when he gets a widescreen set and becomes Joe 16x9-Pack?
The review appears to have been edited to now read:
That's nice Damin, I hope they made mention of their edit to the original review or that's just another piece of respect DVD File has lost.
It's odd that a site which has argued strongly for OAR releases is so relaxed about the butchering of movies to fit a widescreen display device. I consider altering the aspect ratios (or stretching to fit a 16:9 screen) of intended 1.33:1 films as appalling as unmatting or pan and scanning widescreen films.
Them! was composed within the Academy Aperture aspect ratio of 1.37:1. When it was shown in its initial theatrical run, it was projected at 1.37:1. Subsequent re-releases of said film were projected at 1.85:1. It looked bad. 1.78:1 anamorphic for DVD? Anamorphic 1.66:1 windowbox might work.
Hey, what are Universal doing with Duel. Fuck's sake. Pissing in the wind, I guess. The cover art says/said
"W I D E S C R E E N"... but guys, that show was a TVM - 1.33:1! Hmmm...
Aspect ratio discussions - dont'cha just love 'em!?
Please don't take my comment out of context. I am not nor have I ever been an advocate of butchering a film's original aspect ratio. But I recognize that a significant number of you own 16:9 displays, so isn't it helpful to know that you might have choices among uneven phosphor wear (if you don't like gray bars), non-linear stretching, or soft matting when you select a screen mode for a 1.37:1 aspect ratio film? I simply pointed out that objects and people did not appear to have been cut by the matting, so it's up to the viewer to make the choice.
When I review a DVD that contains both anamorphic widescreen and full screen versions, I always try to offer comments concerning the nature of the pan and scan. Very often the film was shot in Super 35, so more information is visible above and below the widescreen portion of the frame, and a limited amount of the image is cut from the sides. When I point that out, is that advocating watching the film in full screen? I don't think so; it's simply additional information I feel might be helpful to our readers.
Patrick, I specifically stated in my review that the film's original aspect ratio is 1.37:1 so I'm well aware of the intended display proportions. Whether the film remains pleasingly composed or not if soft-matted is subjective. Were the Kubrick films that were shown theatrically at 1.85:1 but released to home video and DVD at 1.33:1 "wildly incorrect" in motion picture theaters? I've watched The Shining both ways, and I prefer 1.78:1.
Admittedly, there is a difference. Kubrick had to compose for American motion picture screens despite his preference for a taller image. Them! was clearly composed for 1.37:1; it may be a coincidence that the film seems to fit within a 1.78:1 soft matte. Don't shoot the messenger.
Hey Dan, looks like ya just got FLAMED! Ouch!
Okay just a couple of points tangently on-topic:
Duel may have been a TV movie but it was also A) shot on film and B) released theatrically in Europe. It was probably shot in 1.85 but composed with 1.37 in mind.
Dan, Dan, Dan... Criticizing a 50's-era sci-fi movie for its cheesy special effects? That's like criticizing porn for too much nudity. It's true but kind of beside the point.
The ants in Them! were just fine by me, in 1.37 or 1.78. It was the sound effect that they used that really made them work for me, anyway.
Peter B again. As editor, obviously I don't write every review, and sometimes I read stuff and think "Should I cut that out?" But at the end of the day, i think our job is to review the picture, sound, and supplements, not tell people how to watch their movies. (You bought it, you do what you want with it, even use it as a coaster.)
While I usually don't "matte" films to 16x9 on my set, I cannot admit that I haven't before and enjoyed it. Some films that are shown 1.66:1 non-anamorphic I do crop, and even some 4:3 DVDs (not when I review them, but when I watch them for my own enjoyment.) For example, I was watching Salem's Lot the other night, which is show 4:3 and was shot that way, but shown 1:66:1 theatrically in Europe. Because director Tobe Hooper shot that with some "safe area" in mind even though it was not intended for 1.78;1, I do watch it cropped and did indeed find it more "pleasing."
And admittedly, i did know when I posted dan's Them review that it would piss many off, but I believe this is a controversy that's only going to grow as more buy 16x9 sets. And studios are started to do it as well...new Line recomposed some of the early John Waters films with his consent, so what happens when directors themselves start allowing recomposed 16x9 versions of their films to be released? So go ahead and flame Dan and disagree with him, fair enough, but this is a topic that I, as editor, felt was worth letting be discussed.
BTW, the review wasn't edited for content, just clarity to make it clear that it was Dan's preference, not a statement that 1.78;1 was the film's "correct" aspect ratio, which was never the point of the original text of the review.
Damin, your response certainly contributed to a calm exchange on the subject. The quote you culled from my message was in the context of the well-discussed issue of having to settle for non-anamorphic full screen transfers of Kubrick's films, which could have been soft-matted to 1.78:1 (or in some cases, window-paned to 1.66:1) and presented in anamorphic video with significantly improved spatial resolution. Kubrick has been reported to prefer the taller aspect ratio. They were shown theatrically soft-matted. What is "right?"
Paul, since The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Thing From Another World (just to name a few '50s sci-fi titles) offer more credible special effects, I didn't think anyone would mind if I poked a little fun at those big ant puppets.
Dave, show me a reviewer who isn't flamed and I'll show you a reviewer who has no opinions. My favorite flame is "Mighty Joe Young sucks and so do you."
Pete, thanks for pointing out that my observation was informational and not blasphemy, but I didn't even say that I prefer to watch the film 1.78:1. I simply said that based on the composition, watching it that way was safe.
I didn't mean anything bad by the post, I just wanted to point it out.
IMO, encouraging alterations to the aspect ratio can mislead and also lead to worse stuff. Many people don't realize that pre-1953 films are 99.9% 1.33:1 (with a handful of 1.20:1 Movietone films and a few 65mm. Also, This is Cinerama in 1952...) and think they're getting the wrong picture.
It's like saying Help! looks fine at 1.78:1...it may look ok, but the filmmakers prefer the presentation at 1.33:1.
Although there is a splash of color during the title sequence, the film was not delivered to theatres on color stock as Dan infers. Only the opening had the color stock edited in for the first run. This film was a "programmer", meant to go along with a first run feature... yes in the good old days you saw two films, a newsreel a cartoon and trailers. It's scared the hell out of me as a kid. We weren't as "sophisticated" as to spec. effex in those days as we are now.
I have a 16x9 set.
I don't see anything wrong with cropping a film to 1.78:1 that was intended to be viewed that way.
I crop 1.66:1 4x3 encoded titles only out of the lesser of 2 evils...they should have been encoded in 16x9 with side-boxing but they weren't and my set doesn't have a dedicated 1.66:1 "zoom" mode.
I never, however, would crop a film that was *intended* to be viewed 1.33 or 1.37:1 to 1.78:1.
Let the editor and reviewer of this disc stand by their material at DVD File. One comment in this thread borders on a flame, so bear in mind flaming is not tolerated at HTF.
Matting has been discussed here ad nauseum, so let's keep this entire matter in perspective. Meanwhile, enjoy Them! in all its 1.33:1 glory.