Since the release of Forbidden Games last December, Criterion has been routinely windowboxing their 1.33:1 transfers, shrinking the image down to include a black border around the whole image (as seen in these reviews of Forbidden Games and The Virgin Spring at DVD Beaver). The purpose of this is to ensure that viewing monitors with overscan can still see all (or almost all) of the image. The major drawback of this process is it compromises transfer quality by not making use of the maximum resolution that DVD is capable of by reducing the size of the image itself. While I can see how this could benefit owners of sets with overscan, it’s still a very compromised situation - even if one gets to see more of the edges, there’s still less actual detail in the image itself. It smacks unmistakably of the same reasoning behind their early non-anamorphic stance, which was to benefit the great majority of 4:3 TV owners in the early days of DVD, with many of those discs now appearing like relics from a darker era. The result was, and with windowboxing is now again, a reduction in picture resolution instigated to suit the monitors prevalent at that time. The new generation of plasma and LCD monitors without overscan already solve this problem, not to mention DVD players with the incremental zoom function. While I’m aware a great many people currently have neither, I do believe companies should be keeping their discs looking as good as possible for future systems (I very much doubt we’ll be seeing new editions of La bête humaine or Kind Hearts and Coronets on either high-definition DVD format anytime soon). (Aesthetically speaking, watching on a display with no overscan, I find the black border creates an extremely distracting effect while watching the discs – you’re essentially watching a frame within a frame and gives the entire film a kind of ‘antiquated’ air that distances you from the movie itself.) This policy is not undergoing a trial period, but something they’ve apparently made standard company practice; I recently recieved an email response stating “Late Spring, in addition to all our future 1.33:1 releases, will indeed be windowboxed”. Criterion already have some of the best films ever made on the upcoming slate (Seven Samurai re-release, anyone?) and most people, it seems, have a wishlist of classic foreign and Hollywood films alike that they’d like to see Criterion have a crack at. I strongly feel that all movies, whether cult schlock like Equinox or established masterpieces like A Canterbury Tale should always be presented to their best possible advantage, and the process of windowboxing only results in reduced quality for all. Please add your name to this petition and/or email Criterion at either [email protected] or [email protected] (their new public relations chap, it seems) asking them to seriously reconsider this practice. Thank you.