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December 1994, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Dec 1994 09:02:48 CST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (48 lines)
Author:  "Mark Kawakami" <[log in to unmask]>
Date:    12/12/94 4:31 PM
[Editor's note:  This message was submitted to SCREEN-L by the "Author" noted
above, and not by Jeremy Butler ([log in to unmask]).]
> TV is
> shaped with a width to height ratio of 1:33 :1.  Most Hollywood films
> are released at 1.85 to one, though many directors keep the tv ratio
> in mind when framing their shots and blocking the action.  Films shot
> in 1.85 should be shown on tv in a letterbox format (with black strips
> at the top and bottom) so that the whole width of the image is preserved.
> Most rented tapes, films shown on tv shot for film, and some discs are
> not letterboxed.  You get a full screen but a large portion of the image
> is missing from the left and right sides. liz weis
Liz Weis brings up a very good point, in that most videotapes are not
letterboxed. I, as I think a lot of "film-types" are, am a big fan of
letter-boxing of films. I think even the worst film has the right to be
shown in its original format, and even more so for the very best, which
use the screen to its full width ("2001: A Space Odessy" is damn near
unwatchable without letter-boxing). Luckily, the letterboxing trend has been
catching on with some interest. More and more films are being released
with the option for letterboxing, such as "Schindler's List." And other
films, such as, if I recall correctly, "The Last of the Mohicans" are
released only in letter-boxed formats. Moreover, many classic films are
re-released inletter-box formats, (Recent re-releases of Kurosawa's
"Yojimbo", "Red Beard", and "Dersu Uzala" are all letter-boxed. I've
recently purchased "Yojimbo," and it's gorgeous, couldn't imagine it any
other way.)
 However, though the trend of letter-boxing has some brief
commercial appeal to Hollywood; trailers and commercials, as well as title
sequences, are often full-width; letterboxing on the whole seems to suffer
from the same stigma it always did, especially on vidoe-tape. The
prevailing arttitude seems to be that only *serious* collectors want
letter-boxing, and *serious* collectors own laser-discs, which is
ludicrous, many collectors simply cannot afford a laser-disc player. What
needs to be done is for letter-box supporters to *band-together* as it
were, to show distributors that letter-boxing is what a majority of the
public wants. Bear in mind that you probably have never heard a single
person in a video rental store pick up a tape, but then put it back after
they realize it's letter-boxed.
 P.S.--Letter-boxing is one of the reason's that I loathe
Blockbuster Video. They couldn't find it in themselves to buy one single
damn copy of "Schindler's List" letter-boxed. One copy, is that too much
to ask?