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Aspect Ratio and Stanley Kubrick... (1 Viewer)

Jeff D

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A coworker just told me he accidently got the wrong full metal jacket. This is full frame. I told him Kubrick had everything on video in full frame. I then went to various sites to prove this to him.

When we hit imdb I became confused... It seems Kubrick shot most of his stuff (aside from sparticus) at 1.37:1. Here's my question.... two parts. 1.37:1 sure is close to 1.33:1 and it would seem that full frame is the "correct" choice.

What was done for things like Full Metal Jacket Laser Disc which was 1.85:1? Was it cropped?
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Damin is correct. I have the FMJ LaserDisc and it is full-frame, same as the DVD releases.

If you want more info on Kubrick's aspect ratios, look up interviews with Leon Vitali (Kubrick assistant and supervisor of the latest transfers) at the major DVD sites: dvdfile.com thedigitalbits.com etc. He goes into detail about the subject.

It seems Kubrick shot most of his stuff (aside from sparticus) at 1.37:1.
He also shot 2001 in SuperPanavison, the DVD is transferred at around 2.10.
 

Jeff D

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You would figure if he didn't like 1.85:1 he would have shown his features in 1.33:1 or 1:37:1. I wonder what, if anything, viewers would have said if he did that. It was done with Blair Witch, that my not be a fair test case, people seemed to complain about "shaky" cam and motion sickness.

I was shocked to see the LD was 1.85:1, I wasn't sure it was correct. Thanks for the correction!

I'll check out the article.

Thanks!
 

Rich Malloy

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Most people saw "Blair Witch" at one of the Landmark Cinema Theaters, which primarily show independent and arthouse fare and who pride themselves on honoring aspect ratios and the like. But in the multiplexes (where Kubrick's films play), they routinely "soft-matte" 1.37:1 and 1.66:1 films to 1.85:1. This is a practice called "common projection". It seems they could easily just project a 1.37:1 image in the middle of the screen, drawing the curtains in, if possible, or simply leaving blank space on either side... but that would surely offend those who'd feel ripped off that the image doesn't "fill the screen".
 

Sean Patrick

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i've been fooling around with my Rp91 lately and got around to testing the "zoom" on the fullframe Kubrick dvd remasters....to my surprise, Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, Clockwork Orange, Shining, and Barry Lyndon all looked VERY good zoomed to 1.78:1....i'd say about 80% as good as an anamorphic transfer. I was afraid 1) the composition wouldn't look right, and 2) the noise/grain blown up would amage the image quality. Neither fear turned out to be true, in fact i would say they definitely look framed for widescreen, and they are also quality transfers regardless of the aspect ratio (compression and color)...
 

Patrick McCart

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2001 is actually unmatted!

The aspect ratio of the 65mm negative is around 2.13:1. When 70mm prints were made off this negative, the aspect ratio would be made into 2.21:1.
 

Jeff D

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The viewing of BWP I saw surprised me, it was about half way through when I was "jazzed" to realize it was 4:3, just like a video camera. Very cool I thought, letter boxes on the SIDES and everything. Can't remember they may have drawn the curtains in. And this at a megaplex, one of the worst, IMHO, in the bay area.
 

Rob W

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Blair Witch prints contained the 4:3 image within the 1:85 area so all theatres could project the correct aspect ratio. ( Most theatres today don't have the lenses and apertures for true 4:3 since it's never used .) The reissue prints of WIZARD OF OZ also employed this method, although genuine full-frame 4:3 prints were also made and offered to theatres who could project it correctly.
 

Robert Ringwald

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Kubrick decided to shoot almost all of his later movies in 4:3 ratio after seeing how bad 2001 was presented on television...

That would explain why it's is his only movie filmed in that aspect ratio.
 

Seth Paxton

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I feel almost 100% now that Kubrick did indeed have quite a love of the 1.37 ratio, plus the lenses available to him for shooting this aspect.

I'm in a Kubrick class right now and we are of course going through each film, plus some reading and whatnot. I notice that one of his primarily visual styles is to use a zoom to get a much flatter frame, though he also loves to fill his frame with depth cues (the diagonal lines of a line of people, ceiling lines, etc) and also to fill the frame with mise-en-scene at all sorts of varying depth within one shot. I mean depth cues as techniques for implying depth to a two dimensional image like a painting or a photo.

For this flat look, just look at the medium-close ups of Scott or Sellers in the war room in Dr. S or Mason sitting in the tub in Lolita. Once you start to see it in one place you recognize his great love of that technique.

However, for panavision I noticed that he clearly was not getting the same level of flatness that he probably wanted (in my opinion of course). For example there is an oddity in 2001, the rack focus in order to include objects on 2 different planes of depth in one shot. The floating pen is in focus and then he racks it to the stewardess coming in the doorway. In his 1.37 stuff he seems to be able to get everything he wants in the frame without having to rack focus...I think of Paths of Glory when the General enters Colonel Dax's bunker office as an example of a similar entrance with mise-en-scene at very different depths.

Another thing about Kubrick, following the diagonal line depth cues is the framing of all sides that he seems to enjoy as well. Again, even in a wide film like 2001 we have the scene in the moon base conference room. Look at how the ceiling and floor are also used to frame that shot. The room must be flat and wide to accomplish this in fact. (side note, we have been discussing another technique of his which is to shoot with the camera at waist level looking slightly upward. He does this a lot, much like photographers used to do with the cameras you looked down into that hung at the waist - like when he was working for Look magazine)

So when I see The Shining losing the floor and ceiling as Jack walks the hallways in the masked version, I know longer believe "that's how he wanted it". He may have conceded to the politics/financials of theatrical distribution, but I doubt he liked it. I feel the same with the EWS edits, he would do business out of practicality, but all things considered it wouldn't be how he would have it if he had unlimited resources/control.

Any cinematographers that want to jump in and argue against my points, clarify, or whatnot, please don't hesitate.
 

Bryan Tuck

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Sorry to throw a monkeywrench into this, and I may be way off here, but I work at a movie theater, and I could have sworn the print of EWS we showed in 1999 was hard-matted, at least in some shots. Could it have been tilt-and-scan?

Or am I just completely wrong?
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I ran a couple of 35mm prints of Eyes Wide Shut through my own hands - standard release prints, not "show prints" of any kind - and they were *not* hard-matted. This was from looking at them on the rewinds and then projected on a 1.37 screen.
 

John CW

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So Kubrick simply wanted the image to "fill his screen" when he watched it at home... Now 16:9 (widescreen) TV's are getting more and more common (in his home country at least!) would he have wanted THAT screen to be filled??
I wish Leon Vitali would answer THAT question as now when I watch one of his films I get "edgies". :)
~ John
 

Rich Malloy

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But Kubrick was "shooting for the box", and that box was a 4x3 one, not a 16x9 one. Had 16x9 been prevalent, he may well have composed his images with that ratio in mind... but he didn't, and there's nothing that can be done about it now.

Except, of course, to simply zoom it on your 16x9 if you prioritize filling your screen over other considerations. A fairly easy fix that won't perturb those who disagree with you (unless you invite them over for a screening... in which case, it's your room, Monsieur Zoom!).
 

Seth Paxton

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No, it wasn't just a "fill the TV screen" thing because it wasn't until 2001 hit home that he was bothered by a P&S butchering of his film.

He was already framing Academy ratio when most everyone else was going wider. Just look at the films surrounding the 2.35 Spartacus - Paths of Glory just before it, Lolita and the mixed aspect ratio (though none in the film are 2.35) Dr. Strangelove.

That's why I also pointed out the amount of FLATNESS he was able to get with Panavision lenses as another possible reason to step away from them. Follow his next 2 films to see - ACO goes back to a 1.66 framing using spherical and then he buys up a bunch of old "worthless" cameras to be modified for the shooting of Barry Lyndon in spherical with high speed lenses.

So he already had gone back to spherical. At that point the only change would be the intended framing of 1.66 or 1.37. If, after 2001 hit TV Kubrick said "screw this, I'm not giving them anything to P&S it would seem like he either intended a dual framing, or a 1.37 framing. But it is also quite possible he went back to the Lolita/Path of Glory look which then couldn't be shown in most theaters without putting the 1.37 centered on a 1.85 frame for projection like Blair Witch.

He is just too consistent about the ceiling/floor framing in his films to have suddenly discounted it with The Shining, FMJ, EWS (especially when it comes through so well at 1.33(7).
 

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