Glengarry Glen Ross Super 35 composition: WOW!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John J Nelson, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. John J Nelson

    John J Nelson Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,
    I just picked up GGR. In common with a lot of people, I've only ever seen this on TV. It looked OK, like your average TV movie, and I was surprised to hear that it was shown theatrically at 2.35:1. I wasn't sure why the director wanted to use such a wide ratio for a film that was mostly based in a cramped office.
    Then I saw the W/S DVD...
    All I can is, I am very impressed at the effectiveness of the widescreen composition in this film. It reveals the office with so much clarity (it's much bigger than it looks in the TV version), and it's great being able to see from one side of the room the other. I love the way that the director has framed shots of the key players in the film - using lighting and shallow focus to make them stand out against the drab office interior. And the tracking shots, eg. of Jack Lemmon as he follows Kevin Spacey across the office, work so much better in the scope frame.
    I know that widescreen Super 35 transfers look much better than the 4:3 versions for SFX-laden films (Terminator 2, Titanic etc.), but this is the first time I've seen what a difference composition makes to a non-SFX film.
    Anyone else have any good examples of films with really great widescreen compisition?
    -- J.
     
  2. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

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  3. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Of the scope films I have seen recently on DVD, Sergei Bondarchuk's, Waterloo was a revelation. The shots in that film - OMG! [​IMG]
    Shame it's not on region 1. The transfer is okay, it's not dual-layered and has some damage, but the colours are vibrant and I would buy again if the transfer was improved for a region 1 edition.
    In the meantime, there is of course, Elite's 4 disc of War And Peace. But good will it be?
    Gordy
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Micheal: Agreed, Lynch's, Blue Velvet is truly unwatchable in 1.33:1 pan and scan. [​IMG]
    Heck, even on TV at 1.85:1 MAR it suffers badly.
    It was shot by Frederick Elmes in J(oe) D(unton) C(amera) Scope.
    As for The Royal Tenenbaums, I shudder at the thought of that film being panned and scanned - all that edge-to-edge on-screen text! It's a beautifully shot film.
    Masaki Kobayashi's 1964 film, Kwaidan is a truly great widescreen film. Yoshio Miyajima shot it in Tohoscope and it was processed in Eastmancolor.
    John Carpenter's, Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York and The Thing are great examples of great scope films.
    But then there's David Lean and Freddie Young... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Gordy
     
  6. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  7. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    Also just saw Glengarry Glen Ross for the first time in 2.35:1 today, and it indeed looked great. [​IMG]
     
  8. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    The first time I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, I saw it on VHS, "full frame". The properly matted film looks far better.

    I agree about GGR -- it looks so much better, compositionally, when it is properly matted, especially Jack Lemmon in the phone booth at the beginning. I remember that shot quite distinctly from seeing it theatrically, and then when I later rented the (open matte) laserdisc (a later edition was widescreen), I just scratched my head, wondering what I had been so excited about.
     
  9. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

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  10. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I just thought of another widescreen film that will suffer horribly when it's panned 'n' scanned: Punch-Drunk Love.
    M.
     
  11. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    Blade Runner. Ebert used this film on an old show to show the diffences. Indy and Star Wars trilogies. Too bad they are not on DVD.
    Jaws, most definitely! Superman, Poltergeist also. Sheesh, I could go on and on....
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    While many films are simply shot, many are composed like paintings.

    Moulin Rouge is one film I can't even think of being able to watch in a coherent way at 1.33:1. In fact, I watched a little on HBO and was literally sick to my stomach. Every frame of that film is composed perfectly.

    Super-35 also has many surprises. James Cameron's 2.35:1 films are shot extremely well in composition. T-2, True Lies, and The Abyss are like totally different movies in pan & scan. I'm lucky to have seen Titanic ONLY in matted widescreen (my VHS is letterboxed). The Abyss totally loses the claustrophobic feel to it and T-2 isn't nearly as tense when it should be.

    One flat film that was very well composed was UHF. There are a lot of shots which really take advantage of the 1.85:1 frame for width.

    Matting can make a movie different with little effort.
     
  13. Mike Kelly

    Mike Kelly Stunt Coordinator

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    Two non-epic films from 1960:
    "The Apartment", with its office interiors and group shots, is essential in 2.35.

    "Sons and Lovers", which has yet to be released in any video format is shown on Fox Movie Channel in both Wide Screen and P&S. This HAS to be seen in WS. The cinematography by Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man) is breathtaking and the compositions by director Jack Cardiff, himself an outstanding cinematographer (Black Narcissus), are absolutely perfect.

    Coincidentally, or maybe not, both The Apartment and Sons and Lovers shared the 1960 New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Film and Best Director.
     
  14. Douglas Bailey

    Douglas Bailey Second Unit

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  15. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I watched Glengarry tonight. It was my first time seeing it OAR as well. I was indeed as impressed as you all. The 2.35:1 framing is perfect! I did a comparison with the full-frame version and found that there is significant cropping. It makes me wonder if perhaps they actually pan-and-scanned the 2.35:1 frame, rather than simply opening up the Super35 framing. They did this with Reservoir Dogs, I believe, so maybe GGR is the same way.
     
  16. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  17. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  18. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  19. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  20. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Who am I to argue with RAH? [​IMG] But I've had occasion over the years to compare a fair number of 4:3 vs. 2.35:1 presentations of films acquired in Super35, and I have never -- not once -- seen a 4:3 version that wasn't cropped at the sides. This may be just a question of what's considered good telecine technique (not going to the very edge of the frame; you see this with open matte 1.85 films as well), or there may be other technical issues. (ScottH, are you listening?)
    Regardless of the numeric calculation, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find a Super35 film that isn't cropped, often drastically so, in its 4:3 presentation. Maybe RAH will drop by and tell us why that is.
    M.
     

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