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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 25, 2011.
Curvature aside, isn't How the West Was Won around 2.89:1 on BD?
The flat version is 2.89:1. It shows all of the available image on the three negatives. The curved presentation is I believe 2.59:1 because a little bit was cropped (as intended) when projected.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most of Warner's "1.85:1" Blu-rays actually 1.78:1? (I believe most of their anamorphic DVDs were that as well.)
I think one of the theaters in my hometown was set up that way (the constant 2:1). I always noticed when a "scope" movie was cropped on the sides (titles and credits would often be cropped), but now that I think about it, the "flat" movies always seemed a little wider than they should have been.
Were a lot of theaters designed this way?
That is correct. That is what RAH was referring to when he wrote the following:
One thing I might add (brought up by someone else in another forum) that in the Michel Ciment book "Kubrick" it says the following:
For Barry Lyndon it was very important—given the experiments in lighting—for the projection equipment to be the best possible. Of course, we had neither the means nor the authority to replace them all, but what we discovered from checking all the principal cinemas in France and Germany was that two-thirds of them didn't have a 1.66 mask, something that costs no more than a few pounds. The projectionists told us that the image would overlap a little on the sides. So Kubrick's assistants had all the projectors equipped for a decent screening of the film—and at the same time for every other film!
Now, I'm wondering if this doesn't mean something around the lines of: for specific premier theaters Kubrick has a specific idea in mind for the aspect ratio to be used in Europe? There's no mention of what it was supposed to be shown at in the US. Similar to the initial Apocalypse Now prints that were in 70mm for the premier screenings....
I don't know. Just seems to me that the difference between the 1.66 and 1.78 is so minimal that it shouldn't be this big of an issue anymore. I'm holding my final verdict until I get mine delivered to me, but I'm certainly more at ease now than I was.
In projection the difference between 1.75 and 1.85 are a different set of aperture plates and lenses, unless one deals strictly with maskings to accommodate.
I watched the disc last night and loved it. I never thought for a moment that the compositions looked wrong in 16:9. I just sat back and was blown away by every establishing shot.
Warner mattes all dvd's and br's at 1.78:1. I don't think that is such a crime considering it is an intermediate AR between European 1.66:1 and American 1.85:1. I don't see a problem with the way they matted, say, The Shining because it was soft matted anyway (and beats the hell off that awful 1.33:1 original release!) but since Mr Kubrick had both Orange and Lyndon hard matted, Warner should have respected his wishes and had the film windowboxed as they did with Lolita and Orange. It wouldn't have compromised full vertical resolution.
WB even updated their logo for the first Harry Potter film on blu. It no longer has the AOL Time Warner byline. It has been replaced by the new TimeWarner logo.
That's interesting because the MGM logo is intact on the BD of "Lolita."
Warner Bros never remove the Leo the Lion M-G-M logo on any of their M-G-M owned titles.
I've been following this debate across several forums and blogs. Over at criterionforum, a poster named GaryC recalls receiving a note signed by Kubrick with a print of Barry Lyndon for a screening that dictated an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 or "no wider than 1.75:1". Is it possible that the the Egyptian's screening was simply using the maximum width allowed by Kubrick, not necessarily the specifically dictated aspect ratio?
Also, a 1.78:1 presentation loses vertical information from a 1.75:1 presentation, assuming they're both cropping from a full flat frame. Likewise, the 1.66:1 image from a hard-matted 1.66:1 film would be the tallest image possible, with any wider aspect ratio, like 1.75:1 or 1.77:1 necessarily cropping some of the vertical information. Comparison of the 1.59:1 DVD release and 1.78:1 Blu-ray shows that vertical information has clearly been cropped.
Finally, are the recent prints really at 1.66:1, or are they possibly 1.59:1, since that is what the OCN is said to be? 1.59:1 and 1.66:1 are similar enough, and 1.66:1 is standard enough, that I can see many projectionists assuming the aspect ratio is 1.66:1 without strictly measuring it.
Am I the only one that finds it ironic that in one thread you have people expressing excitement over the 3D release of a film that wasn't made in 3D, while in this one there is an anally-retentive raging debate over minute differences in aspect ratios?
I think it shows the variety of users and opinions in this forum. Some prefer their movies to be as close to how it was originally intended to be seen in theaters as possible, while others are exited about new enhancements to beloved films.
That said, the 3D modifications are a little different, since most 3D Blu-ray releases include the original 2D version, or it's available separately. Also, it's known that the 3D versions are not how the film was originally intended to be seen. With the Barry Lyndon release, you have no choice other than the aspect ratio they picked, and Leon Vitali is trying to claim that it's definitively the aspect ratio that Kubrick intended. Thus the debate.
I can't wait for the Barry Lyndon disc to arrive. I think it's one of Kubrick's best films.
Just for kicks, here's what Leon Vitali had to say about all this in May of 2001:
"That is because at the time (of The Shining) 1.85:1 was becoming an industry norm in the United States, so what he did was, he shot his original negative, then he made the interpositive, then for theatrical release he would mask the interpositive, which meant he still had the original negative in full frame. This was also very important to Stanley. He was very conscious of the fact that you lose I think 27% of your picture when it is matted to 1.85:1. He hated it, he didn't find it satisfactory. He liked height. (laughs)"
also from a different interview:
"Leon Vitali: The important thing to know about Stanley, is that he wanted all of his films shown on video - anything that wasn't a theatrical presentation - in the original camera ratio that he shot it in. He wanted you to see the films exactly as he saw them when he looked through the camera lens and composed them on set. He was no fan of 1.85, because he felt that you were losing part of the image he composed. Now he knew that, with a film like The Shining or Full Metal Jacket, that they would have to be shown in theaters in 1.85 format. But for video, he could present the full frame as he composed it - that's what he wanted.
Bill Hunt: Was there ever talk about doing alternate anamorphic widescreen versions of the later films - the ones that were shown theatrically at 1.85? So you could have both versions on DVD?
Leon Vitali: Yes, it was discussed. But Stanley just wasn't interested."
I've several times 'borrowed' Time magazine's opinion of BL as, "The most ravishing set of images ever assembled on a single strip of celluloid" to (more accurately, I think) describe 'Lawrence'....... Anyway...........
While Kubrick's preferred AR for movies in general is obviously up for debate, I seem to remember reading that he composed Lyndon in 1.66 in order to replicate the dimensions generally used for their landscape or group paintings by 18th century masters such as Turner, Gainsborough and Reynolds (though the height of their single-subject portraits were typically greater than the width). That Kubrick begins so many scenes as 'painterly compositions' that he eventually zooms out from seems to bear this out.
The recent concert in Dublin to celebrate the first visit by a British Monarch to Ireland since independence featured the Chieftains - hired by Kubrick for the soundtrack of the Irish segment - while Emer Quinn sang one of the songs featured (and played by the Chieftains) in same. It was available for a limited time on www.rte.ie in the RTE Player section. Excerpts may have made their way onto YouTube.
1.66 was a very popular aspect ratio in France. A lot of filmalkers here in france chose this format during the 70-80 (Claude Sautet, Yves Robert, Philippe de broca). Rare were the films in France shot with the 1.85 aspect ratio during that period.
Agree, with all due respect to Mr. Alcott.
I just read the somecamerunning linked discussion in which poster Jeffrey Wells mentions the received wisdom (my words) that Kubrick framed BL to "simulate" 18th century paintings. Glenn Kenny, in response, asks for documentary evidence of this. He has a point. For my part, I don't have any evidence to support my similar memory of such a contention, but obviously it was out there in some form at one time or another, whether on paper or TV or radio.
I submit, however, that Kubrick would have been the last person on earth to have gone to the trouble of having lenses specially ground in order to successfully photograph many scenes by candlelight, yet be content to leave it up to exhibitors to arbitrarily decide which aspect ratio his obsession should be projected in (a contention someone here or on the linked discussion makes), available equipment notwithstanding.
I knew three actors who appeared in the movie. All three (one of them my room-mate at the time) told of Kubrick's obsession with the smallest detail, so it makes the most sense to me that the aspect ratio he would choose would be that which most closely resembled the shape of those 18th century landscape and group paintings he was obvioulsy attempting to 'bring to life'. That shape was pretty much universally comparable to a film ratio of 1.66:1. Though he doesn't make the same connection I do, RAH's opinion of BL as being "meticulously photographed by John Alcott in the style of 18th century paintings" seems to (albeit unwittingly) support my opinion.
First, as to Mr. Alcott's style, I was referring more to look and texture than aspect ratio, which was not quite set in stone for paintings.
Obviously one has absolute control over image area and aspect ratio for home video. Both height, as well as width, which can be taken right out to the perfs, thereby exposing
information unattainable in projection, can be accessed.
No filmmaker aside from that rarity that screens their work only in museum settings, can control the way that their work is being viewed once it is released into the wild.
One can hand select specific premiere venues for their size, throw and angle of projection in order to achieve perfection or near perfection, but once cans of film are shipped around the world...
When viewing a spherical film, especially from the '50s or early '60s, and attempting to find the correct projection ratio, one must view the film in various ways, and then come to
a conclusion as to what is best -- original filmmakers being unavailable.
When my copy of BL arrived, I was more than taken back, and greatly concerned, by the packaging specifications, and whether 1.85 would work.
Once on screen, I found that in reality we were dealing not only with 1.78, but with a different 1.78 than one would have found in the wild.
Remember, a perceived aspect ratio and an actual aspect ratio are two different entities. What appears, in projection, to be a perfect 1.85, 2.35 or 1.66 can in reality be a highly cropped
image which at the projector aperture is in reality an unbalanced reverse trapezoid.
If one examines the frame grabs published thus far, it becomes apparent that while the perceived aspect ratio appears to be 1.78:1, that the actual aspect ratio is closer to 1.7+:1, as more of the
sides have been exposed than in normal projection.
Here is that nasty chart again:
While Mr. Kubrick certainly liked the 1.66:1 format, he fully understood, as most filmmakers do, that projection is an imprecise science in the wild, that home theater
would change from the 4:3 world of 1999, and that his wishes and directives would have to live within the real world. Mr. Vitali gets all of that, and over the years, his
comments have changed with the times, as would Mr. Kubrick's.
The bottom line is that what we have on Warner's new Blu-ray is an expression of the original work within a few lines of 1.66, and yet filling the 1.78 aspect
ratio that is native to the format. When SB was projected at the Egyptian in 2002, any aspect ratio could have been the directive of the family. It was very
specific in projection - 1.75:1.
Once again, I'm seeing no problem. This is an amazing film, beautifully rendered to Blu-ray, and at under $14 on Amazon, one of the no-brainer purchases of the decade.