One interesting case in the letterboxing vs. pan-n-scan issue is John
Frankenheimer's RONIN, which was released on DVD in BOTH versions--on
opposite sides of the disk.

RONIN was shot in Super 35 format and distributed to theaters in
anamorphic, 1.35:1 prints.  As usual, letterboxing preserves the look of
the theatrical screening of the film, but reduces the size of the image.

What's interesting to me, though, is that in the pan-n-scan version we see
the ENTIRE WIDTH of the original!  Very little has been cut from the sides
of the original image.  Instead, this version adds material to the top and
bottom of the frame to fill the screen.  That is, we see material above and
below the 1.35 frame--material which was not visible in the theatrical release.

One of my arguments against pan-n-scan has always been that it chops off
significant portions of the original image, but in the case of RONIN that
is not true.  'Course, the pan-n-scan version does do violence to the
aspect ratio of the original, thus messing with the original compositions;
but in ways I didn't expect.

I've done some frame grabs from the DVD to illustrate this to my classes:

P.S.  A BUG'S LIFE digitally added material to the top and bottom for its
"full screen" release.

Jeremy Butler
[log in to unmask]
Telecommunication & Film/University of Alabama/Tuscaloosa

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