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"Apocalypse Now Redux" Framing


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#1 of 112 Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 11 2001 - 04:24 AM

The subject of the 2.0:1 transfer accorded both the original Apocalypse Now DVD (and other home video incarnations) and the new Redux disc has been well-covered. However, I discovered something interesting as I watched Redux: though it still sports the 2.0:1 proportions, it's definitely framed DIFFERENTLY than the original disc.

In my review of the 1999 DVD, I'd noted that during the "Charlie don't surf" scene, the soldier Kilgore addressed was almost lost from the left side of the frame; he nearly got cropped out of existence. However, that's NOT the case for Redux. The frame's still a little cramped, but this soldier's much more visible. On the other hand, we almost entirely lose another solider on the RIGHT side of the frame; he was very apparent on the old DVD, but he's basically gone in Redux.

I haven't done such direct comparisons for the rest of the film. I thought the old composition was cramped but acceptable, and I feel the same way about Redux. Nonetheless, I was surprised to see the differences in framing.

Redux probably offers the better composition of the two, but the new cut of the film seems very weak to me. I thought none of the new scenes added anything, and MANY of them actively harmed the movie. On the other hand, the movie looks and sounds better than ever. The picture is comparable to that of the old DVD, but it seems a bit cleaner, and the sound is excellent. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with the old cut - it's flawed but much more satisfying than Redux.

(Full review to go online tomorrow, BTW...)

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#2 of 112 Anton Ruzic

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Posted November 11 2001 - 04:31 AM

Did Storaro pan 'n' scan the 2.35:1 master for the Redux DVD?

Anton


#3 of 112 Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 11 2001 - 05:13 AM

Quote:
Did Storaro pan 'n' scan the 2.35:1 master for the Redux DVD?

Hopefully someone else can better discuss the muddled history of the film's framing, but it's always been 2.0:1 for the widescreen home video incarnations. I just wanted to mention that though Redux still has those same dimensions, the composition has changed from the old disc...

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#4 of 112 Neil S. Bulk

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Posted November 11 2001 - 05:33 AM

Quote:
Under the supervision of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, AIC/ASC, the DVD has been reframed in a 1.97:1 aspect ratio, anamorphic and letterbox.

That's from Widescreen Reviews DVD review of the original Apocalypse Now DVD. It's pretty well known that he prefers 2:1 as opposed to the full 2.35:1 framing.

Of course, I'd only seen this movie on video (the widescreen LD and the DVD), so when I saw "Redux" in the theater, I was amazed at how much there was on the sides of the screen. Not minor information. I really wish we could get this in the OAR, but I guess Storaro and Coppola know best.

Neil

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#5 of 112 Robert George

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Posted November 11 2001 - 07:24 AM

Quote:
I really wish we could get this in the OAR, but I guess Storaro and Coppola know best.

Storaro and Coppola made their decision when they chose anamorphic 35mm to shoot this film. The film was photographed in 2.35:1 and exhibited in 2.40:1 and 2.20:1 (70mm blowups). That was the filmmakers' intent.

What Storaro has done is a disservice to every fan of this film. He has convinced Coppola to alter the framing of this film for video because he (Storaro) objects to the loss of resolution when the letterbox format is used. Storaro also foisted his misguided opinion on fans of the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

As a cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro is one of the best now, or ever. But when it comes to video, he is just plain wrong. Because of him, it is now impossible for fans of both Apocalypse Now and Tucker to see these films in their intended framing and composition outside of a theater.

[/rant]

[Edited last by Robert George on November 11, 2001 at 02:24 PM]

#6 of 112 cafink

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Posted November 11 2001 - 10:01 AM

Quote:
He has convinced Coppola to alter the framing of this film for video because he (Storaro) objects to the loss of resolution when the letterbox format is used.

What evidence is there of this? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just don't know much about this film (I've never seen it) and I'm geniunely curious.

You say that 2.35:1 (or 2.20:1 or 2.40:1 or whatever) is the intended ratio, but you don't offer any evidence of that other than the theatrical exhibition. By that logic, virtually EVERY movie made in the last fifty years that has had a theatrical release has an intended aspect ratio of either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. MOST do, but not all.

How do you know that "Apocalypse Now" wasn't just shot the same as a soft-matte film, only matted on the sides instead of the top and bottom? If 2:1 was the intended ratio, then shooting scope and matting the sides seems no worse a solution than shooting flat and matting the top and bottom.

Yes, the full frame was shown theatrically as filmed, but we all know how difficult it can be to get a movie shown in theaters in any but the two most common aspect ratios, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. Isn't it possible that Coppola and Storaro just accepted this as a compromise for the theatrical release, and were happy to be able to restore the film to its proper aspect ratio for release on home video (not unlike "Eyes Wide Shut" and several other Kubrick films)?

[Edited last by Carl Fink on November 11, 2001 at 05:02 PM]
 

 


#7 of 112 Hendrik

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Posted November 11 2001 - 11:27 AM

...ahh... take a look here:
http://www.univisium.com/

...recent Storaro-lensed films have indeed been made with AR 2.0:1 - e.g. Carlos Saura's Goya In Bordeaux - the excellent German DVD on the ARTHAUS label respects this AR...

. . . Posted Image . . .


#8 of 112 Robert George

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Posted November 11 2001 - 11:46 AM

Carl:

What, exactly are you questioning? The original aspect ratio of the film, or Storaro's penchant for cropping on video?

I'll just cover both issues.

First, an interview with Storaro (one of several) in American Cinematographer several years ago. In it, the issue of letterboxing on video, and specifically the framing for Apocalypse Now on laserdisc, were addressed.

As for the film itself, it only stands to reason that one shoots anamorphic 35mm for a reason. For the record, Coppola shot Apocalypse Now with Technovision cameras and anamorphic lenses. Any filmmaker knows a scope film will be projected at something between 2.2 and 2.4:1 in theaters. He also knows that 70mm blowups are going to have an image area of 2.2:1.

Storaro has specifically stated he preferred altering the 2.35:1 scope frame to about 2:1 as a compromise between pan & scan and the limited resolution of video. I don't consider that his call to make. He and Coppola chose 2.35:1 for this film and it should be shown that way, or at least closer to it than it is. There is noticeable image loss on the sides of the frame, even on my TV with less than 5% total overscan. On the average set with 10% to even as much as 20% oversan, the image loss is much worse. You wind up with a 1.85:1 image of a 2.35:1 film. Not unlike what HBO is doing with 2.35:1 films on their hi-def channel. It is not right there, and it is not right here. It doesn't matter who made the decision, it was wrong.

#9 of 112 GregK

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Posted November 11 2001 - 12:13 PM

Regarding Storano's view on letterboxing, there was an
*excellent* article in the August issue of MIX magazine
on Apocalypse Now's original 5.1 mix, and the re-mixing
done to accomidate the new extras and tweaks that went
into "Redux".

While the nine page AN article was primarily about the
audio, they did touch on the letterboxing to 2:1 from the
2.40:1 image, as chosen by Vitorio Storano. To quote from
the article:

This controversial decision was intended to be a
compromise between proper wide-screen framing and
the relatively limited resolution of NTSC video.


Right after is this interesting tidbit that I assume
has to do with a newly inserted scene in "Redux":

(The cropping did come back to haunt them in one
scene where a character outside of the visible
frame was speaking unbeknownst to the crew during
the sound edit and mix. One cheated line and print-
master fix later, all was well.)


It seems that Storano is not only figuring the 2:1
aspect ratio for home video, but also making edits to
ensure a long shelf life in this format. So will Storano
ever change his mind when it's time to release a 1080i
or 1080p HD version? Will HDTV have enough resolution
for Storano and Coppola for a 2.40:1 letterboxed version?
(It is *their* baby after all, even if we don't agree Posted Image )
Hmm, Hmmm, Hmmm......




#10 of 112 Jay Blair

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Posted November 11 2001 - 12:31 PM

Tango is one more film weakened by Storaro with his choice of 2.0 instead of 2:35. The credits at the beginning of the film on my set are even cut off at the sides. Anyone who saw this film in the theater and then sees the DVD will easily see that the reframed image is diminished on the DVD.

The filmmaker is not always right--look at Kubrick with many of his films. They live in the old days of home video and have not adapted to the era of anamorphic DVD shown on a quality TV. In many cases, home video now has a better presentation than at your local cinema that shows films out of focus using cheap projectors and screens that absorb the image as much as they reflect it. Some of the newest cineplexes with 60' or 70' screens showing 35mm prints are no more watchable than VHS tape.

Then again, the best DVDs still have a ways to go to match a quality print shown with a quality projection system. Unfortunately, quality projection is getting rarer.


#11 of 112 Jerry Gracia

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Posted November 11 2001 - 12:35 PM

Carl...

quote:
How do you know that "Apocalypse Now" wasn't just shot the same as a soft-matte film,[/quote]

I guess you missed the very first sentence in Robert's post...

quote:
Storaro and Coppola made their decision when they chose anamorphic 35mm to shoot this film.[/quote]

The film was shot in anamorphic format, not flat.

quote:
You say that 2.35:1 (or 2.20:1 or 2.40:1 or whatever) is the intended ratio, but you don't offer any evidence of that other than the theatrical exhibition.[/quote]

...again, refer back to Robert's first sentence. Anamorphic lenses squeeze a 2.35 (approx) image onto a 1.37 film frame. That's the evidence in itself.

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[Edited last by Jerry Gracia on November 11, 2001 at 07:40 PM]
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#12 of 112 Tom Oh

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Posted November 11 2001 - 12:38 PM

Thanks for clearing things up. I just saw Redux in theater last night and was going to post about the aspect ratio on DVD. As much as I love HT, giant screen is prerequisite for viewing this film. I plan to pick up Redux on DVD but am disappointed by the aspect ratio.

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#13 of 112 GerardoHP

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Posted November 11 2001 - 01:30 PM

Quote:
I really wish we could get this in the OAR, but I guess Storaro and Coppola know best.
Don't be so sure or so quick to support everything the filmmakers do or say. As others already pointed out, this film was exhibited theatrically at 2.20:1 and 2.40:1. The decision to crop the sides is no different that any P&S, in my opinion.

TANGO, as well, was theatrically framed at 2:1, and was released on video at 1.78:1.

WHY CAN'T STORARO GIVE US ON VIDEO WHAT HE GAVE US IN THE THEATERS?!


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#14 of 112 Sutjahjo Ngaserin

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Posted November 11 2001 - 02:04 PM

>>>The filmmaker is not always right--look at Kubrick with many of his films<<<

I am amused.....

#15 of 112 Neil S. Bulk

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Posted November 11 2001 - 02:14 PM

Quote:
I really wish we could get this in the OAR, but I guess Storaro and Coppola know best.

Maybe I should have the " Posted Image " icon to note my sarcasm in that statement.

Neil

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#16 of 112 greg_t

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:39 PM

I have never seen "Apocalypse now" and was debating whether to purchase the original version or the "redux". After reading Colins posts, I have decided to go with the original. I also figure that the original will go OOP not long after the "redux" is released. My question is this: Should I buy the 1999 dvd or the laserdisc? Which is more true to the original release? Opinions on which to get, anyone?

#17 of 112 cafink

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:53 PM

Quote:
Anamorphic lenses squeeze a 2.35 (approx) image onto a 1.37 film frame. That's the evidence in itself.

That is evidence that the full aspect ratio of the original negatives is 2.35:1. It says nothing about what aspect ratio was composed for, how the image was framed, and what the filmmaker's eye was on when he composed the picture.

It's very much like a soft-matted film. The full aspect ratio of the original negatives is 1.37:1, but that doesn't mean that the director can't compose for other ratios (like 1.85:1) by matting the frame.
 

 


#18 of 112 Damin J Toell

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Posted November 11 2001 - 04:39 PM

i agree that we should let HT fans choose the presentation of a film rather than the director and DP. they made the film, sure, but who cares what they want? i also plan on choosing the AR of films yet to be made. i sure hope they listen to my choices. why should the people making these things have any say? it's all about pleasing the fans, not the artists.

DJ

#19 of 112 Moe Dickstein

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Posted November 11 2001 - 11:13 PM

Carl - you can tell that it was intended for 2.35 because Storaro hadn't yet gone off on his 2:1 insanity at the time of the filming of Apocalypse.

The other point is that the 2:1 is not so much an ARTISTIC choice as an attempt to overcome what he feels are the limits of NTSC resolution. Now his later work he is now actively composing for 2:1 (another film is Alfonso Arau's Picking Up The Pieces with Woody Allen) and that I have no problem with

but damnit - I want to see ALL of Tucker!!!!!

I mean for christ sakes - look at the end credits of Tucker on Laser or DVD - you can see them panning and scanning to get the pictures framed right. It makes me ill to watch it

I so hate Storaro for doing this to Tucker, honestly I never liked AN and havent bothered to see AN:R but Tucker is a favorite, and its such a tease to *almost* get the full image

but not quite.

It's like when Ghostbusters 2 was released on video with TINY black bars, when it was a scope film....


Yes, these strange things happen all the time - PT Anderson, Magnolia

#20 of 112 Sutjahjo Ngaserin

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Posted November 12 2001 - 12:47 AM

>>>I agree that we should let HT fans choose the presentation of a film rather than the director and DP<<<

The problem with this kind of argument is that it boils down to individual preferences. logically it then follows that there is nothing wrong with J6P preferring the butchered P&S versus those of us who hated P&S.


Personally I recognised that when we look at a painting, a piece of craft, hand-made watches, or a movie, we have to respect the original works as intended by the artists (we don't buy a certain painting when we do not respect the artist concerned, when we do like and when we bought it, we do not demand the artist put in more shades of blues as per our preferences), and as such for every movie that we do like, we hope to see what was intended, not what we think should be done.... if we don't enjoy it, we don't buy the DVDs....



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