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December 1997, Week 1


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 10:09:41 -0600
text/plain (53 lines)
On Tue, 25 Nov 1997 17:17:44 +0000 Leo Enticknap
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>But if the can does not tell you this, how can the projectionist know
about it?
>Experience and common sense count for a lot (for example, no-one in their
>mind would try to project a recent Hollywood feature in 1:1.33), but,
>ultimately, distributors must take responsibility for not marking up their
>and leaders properly.  Make the wrong decision between 1:1.66 and 1:1.85 and
>either you see boom mikes descending from the heavens (although this can
>up an otherwise dull film) or you get what I call the Islamic execution
>syndrome, in which actors appear to be decapitated.
Leo's explanation of the aspect ratio problem reminds of me of the
screening of CITIZEN KANE at the Chicago Film Festival in, oh, 1977 at the
Varsity Theater in Evanston.
Quite a big deal was made of the screening.  A new, pristine 35mm print had
been struck.  See KANE the way it was meant to be seen!
Only problem was:  The entire film was projected in the wrong aspect ratio.
 Those carefully composed images of newspaper headlines and all those
intricate deep focus shots?  Cut to ribbons.  Why?
KANE was, of course, shot in 1.33, but the Varsity hadn't show a 1.33 film
in years and only had 1.85 projection equipment.  Consequently, KANE
appeared in 1.85 that night.
There were more than a few complaints.  And the academics and critics
(Roger Ebert, for one) that were put on stage to "explain" KANE were more
than a little embarrassed.
It illustrates how, in the US, most theaters only have two choices (if
we're lucky):  1.85 widescreen or 2.35 anamorphic ('Scope, Panavision).
And, more often than not, anamorphic films are shown on *screens* that are
permanently set to 1.85 and, thus, the sides of the image are clipped.
Quite annoying.
Jeremy Butler
Associate Professor
[log in to unmask]
Telecommunication & Film/University of Alabama/Tuscaloosa
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
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