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December 1994, Week 2


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Dec 1994 16:54:39 CST
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Date:    12/13/94 11:00 AM
[Editor's note:  This message was submitted to SCREEN-L by the "Author" noted
above, and not by Jeremy Butler ([log in to unmask]).]
Mark writes:
"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."
This is true enough, but I wonder if an audience for letter-boxing will
slowly grow as cable/satellite channels like AMC and even Captain Colorizer
Ted Turner's TNT show more letterboxed videos.  It may take a while, though.
I often get puzzled inquiries from students about why those black bands
appear on some films--and why some bands are thicker than others.
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN