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DW writes:

> It would be easy to support the integrity of the "widescreen" version of
>  any film [citing examples from DIE HARD]. . . . But these
>  examples only show-up a handful of times in a 2-hour movie --
>  not enough to have a noticable impact on a first-time viewer.
>
>  Yes, John Carpenter and others like to shoot in 2.35:1 ratio.
>  But they rarely bother to take full advantage of the frame. More
>  often than not (as with the above mentioned films) scenes are
>  framed with throw-away content. <snip>

In an artistic composition, however, is it not for the artist to
determine what content can be thrown away?  To decide
what makes up his artistic frame and how the balance is
achieved?  I'm not sure it is advisable to evaluate the effectiveness
of artistic expression on the basis of its "noticeable impact"
on first-time viewers and disinterested layfolks.

I must admit that my visual perspicacity is not what I'd like it
to be, and there's no doubt much I miss in the frames Carpenter
and Kubrick, DePalma and Fincher choose for themselves -- in
aesthetic balance if not necessarily in diegesis -- but is that not
a judgment on me at least as much as on the filmmakers?

Moreover, I can surely say the same for the frames Rubens
and Velazquez, Turner and Corot, Goya and Titian etc., etc.
choose for themselves.  And I can tell you that I would be aghast
if some curators decided that they could clip off the edges of those
frames because their impact on me upon first viewing would be
nothing to speak of.

Imagine art outside of the visual -- a Reader's Digest condensation,
say, or Audiobook abridgement -- whether it be Charles Dickens or
Harold Robbins.  We may hold it sufficient for anyone who isn't
interested in the subtler detail and structure, but is there any among
us who'd argue that publication of the artists' full manuscript is mere
superfluity?

It seems to me that whether an artist fails or succeeds within his
chosen parameters should be something each viewer be allowed
to assess for himself -- whether or not the elite and the trained
believe him capable of doing so. Anything else, I submit, is a
betrayal of the artists' craft.

Shari L. Rosenblum

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