Peter Greenaway - ratio?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Martin S, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. Martin S

    Martin S Stunt Coordinator

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    There are a couple of Greenaway films out on R4 in Australia that don't seem to be issued anywhere else.
    Unfortunately they seem to be full frame. Can anyone that might have THE BABY OF MACON tell me if its open matte or the dreaded, pan and scan?
    DROWNING BY NUMBERS is getting released over there, my favourite Greenaway flick, and its listed as full screen. I'm dreading a pan and scan presentataion.
     
  2. andrew markworthy

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    Well, I've checked IMDB, and unless I'm being unusually dense, there's no indication of the OAR.

    If it's any help, both were, I think, primarily designed for TV. Channel 4 (one of our more 'arty' channels) used to commission Greenaway films on a regular basis. Therefore, it's possible that they were made in 4:3 ratio (the standard TV dimensions at the time - widescreen is now reasonably widespread in the UK, but only in the last few years).

    Personally I find Greenaway's films a bit pretentious for my tastes and accordingly they don't really register with me. However, I do recall that when Drowning by Numbers was first shown on the TV, it had a brief accompanying film by Greenaway explaining some of the references. I *think* it was Drowning by Numbers that also had a companion film called something like 'The A-Z of Bathrooms', in which various people talked about why they liked their bathrooms. I'm sure this was a work of pure genius, but other than the sizeable amount of naked flesh on display, I'm afraid it passed over my humble brain.
     
  3. Martin S

    Martin S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Andrew,
    Yeah, I know his films are an aquired taste and I haven't loved all of them but the ones I like...I REALLY like!!
    As his films are all really visual exercises, it seems a real traversty to give us pan and scan versions. I remember catching PROSPERO'S BOOKS and DROWNING BY NUMBERS in the cinema and there's no way they're going to look good in some 'squashed' format!

    Cheers
    Martin
     
  4. andrew markworthy

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    Martin - in retrospect, I think I was a bit snotty with my comments on Greenaway's films. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on pan and scam. However, as I said, it *is* possible that a 4:3 ratio is correct for them.

    I presume you know about the following site?

    http://petergreenaway.co.uk/

    Well worth looking at if you haven't seen it. E.g. it gives a detailed guide to the number sequence hidden in Drowning by Numbers.
     
  5. Simon Basso

    Simon Basso Stunt Coordinator

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    The only reference to an aspect ratio for Drowning By Numbers I could find said it was 1:1.85. I'm also pretty certain that the first of his films I saw in 2.35 was Cook.

    But don't quote me. Macon I can live without, but Drowning is just superb. My local arthouse is showing The Draughtsman's Contract in a few weeks, perhaps there is a general re-release of his stuff doing the rounds in the UK.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    Simon, no there isn't. Greenaway movies seem to have dropped off in appearances recently (equally I guess that maybe I've stopped noticing). E.g. we have a specialist arthouse movie satellite channel (Film Four) which to the best of my knowledge hasn't shown any Greenaway movies, or at least hasn't done so recently (I *think* - happy to be corrected on this). Also, as far as I'm aware there are no R2 DVDs other than The Pillow Book. I'm amazed that there's no Brit version of The Draughtsman's Contract, since it was a staple favourite of arty 80s students (i.e. people now in their late thirties/early forties who are the prime demographic for DVDs). And although I'm not v. keen on his stuff, I'd be interested to see the rumoured original five hour version of The Draughtsman's Contract. However, Brit DVD production is bizarre. No Peter Greenaway, no Kate Bush, no Jewel in the Crown, no Brass, no full series of Monty Python, no The Day Today, but we've had Norman Wisdom movies and (boy I bet you can't wait for this!) there's a series of Will Hay movies coming out.
     
  7. Simon Basso

    Simon Basso Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrew, yes the Will Hay stuff has been a staple of the HMV sales for six months now, clearly flying off the shelves.
     
  8. Bjorn Thoresen

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    The correct aspect ratio for "Baby of Macon" is 2.35 to 1. It was an anamorphically-shot film, like "Cook."

    The correct aspect ratio for "Drowning by Numbers" is 1.85 to 1. It was presumably shot with a hard matte, as the full-frame NTSC tape and laserdisc releases were obviously cropped.

    Both these films were intended for theatrical exhibition, not television.

    Composition is incredibly important to a Greenaway film. In particular, several of the numbers in "Drowning by Numbers" are eliminated by the fullscreen cropping.
     
  9. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    Bjorn is correct!
     
  10. Martin S

    Martin S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the info folks. Sad to say it looks like DROWNINg will be Pan and scan instead of open matte.
    Ah well, I guess something is better than nothing. At least the picture will hopefully be better than VHS.
    Shame this talented director isn't better treated.He might have lost it a bit at the end but his films were always something a bit different (that can be taken good or bad!)
    I just think its sad that such visual films of this type are ideal for the DVD treatment and they get short changed.
     

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