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Dancer in the Dark - aspect ratios and PAL video (1 Viewer)


Jun 18, 2001
I saw this finally yesterday. I have to say that it was a brilliantly made film but very very very depressing.
Anyhow, the one thing that stood out was how odd the 2.35:1 ratio seemed for everything apart from the songs.
So I checked IMDB and was surprised to find this ( Link Removed ):
Sony DSR-PD150 (with custom anamorphic lenses)
Film length (metres)
4065 m (Spain)
Film negative format (mm/video inches)
Video (PAL)
Cinematographic process
DV (2.35 : 1 anamorphic)
Printed film format
35 mm
Aspect ratio
2.35 : 1
Does this mean there is less pulldown in the U.S. release and that there is no speedup under PAL? What happened in the theatrical release? Did they remove frames?
FWIW, I was watching the PAL DVD but another friend has the NTSC one so may actually compare at some point.
My band is @ http://www.mokita.net
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Dan Brecher

Senior HTF Member
Jan 8, 1999
Real Name
I've no idea of pulldown issues, but DV filmmakers looking to blow up to film will often shoot PAL for two main reasons, the better resolution and the fact that its 25fps is closer to that of film's 24fps thus making it easier (and somewhat cheaper) to transfer from a PAL video source to film stock than NTSCs 30fps video.
I've no idea if the Dancer in the Dark DVD transfer was mastered from a film source or direct from the DV tapes, it's hard to tell (I have the US disc).
Shooting anamorphic involved making new anamorphic lenses and adapters to fit a DV camera. This has been done before, even considered it myself once when I was thinking about shooting DV instead of 16mm. Bloody expensive lenses though.
Some stuff may look slightly off for no non-song scenes since the musical numbers were for the most part shot with the cameras in static positions, since the rest is handheld it got tricky as using an anamorphic lens with a DV camera requires two focus pullers, one to work focus on the camera, another to work focus on the lens itself. Since Dancer has so much handheld that must have been one hell of a job on set.
Dan (UK)
[Edited last by Dan Brecher on November 12, 2001 at 07:01 AM]


Jun 18, 2001
Hmm. I was thinking while watching it that it would have been cool to have the songs in full 2.35:1 as they are but then shrink the ratio down to only 16:9 or even 4:3 for the rest of the movie. You'd obviously need an extra caption for the DVD/video so that people knew what to expect but it would have been cool.
I always find that my Mini-DV camera seems to add a slight 'judder' to the image it films but this may be down to the anti-shaking process I turn out. Or possibly I am too used to steady-cams!

If it was PAL converted back then it would be logical to assume that the NTSC and PAL versions should run at the same speed an pitch, I guess. Now I really do want to compare.
My band is @ http://www.mokita.net
My Novelty Coasters

Guy Martin

Second Unit
Nov 29, 1998
My memory may be shaky here, but I remember reading an article on Dancer in the Dark that indicated that the nonmusical sequences were shot with a large shoulder-mounted camera that was in 16:9 mode. They then slightly matted the 16:9 image in post-production to get the 2.35:1 image. That way focus wsn't too much of a problem.
-- Guy

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