The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...is done forever.

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Moe Dickstein
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The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...is done forever.

#1 Post by Moe Dickstein » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:29 pm

I would have figured that when they upgrade some of these open-matte titles they would have gone with widescreen. Hard to imagine a film in the early 60s wasn't composed for theatrical widescreen.

Orlac
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#2 Post by Orlac » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:01 pm

The Warner UK disc is widescreen.

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bringmesomechemicals
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#3 Post by bringmesomechemicals » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:02 pm

Not sure that it means much, but the version being shown on Hulu + is at 1.37:1.

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swo17
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#4 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:05 pm

Is this a case where an alternate ratio presentation like for On the Waterfront would be appropriate? Or is 1.37:1 just plain wrong?

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zedz
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#5 Post by zedz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:23 pm

Lord of the Flies wasn't a big budget studio film, and there were still plenty of lower-budget and independent productions being shot in Academy right through the sixties, so I think we'd need more evidence than simply its date of production to conclude that it should be widescreen.

In other news, I remember this used to be one of the most stacked of the early releases (they were even layering leftover commentary onto the trailer, if I recall correctly). Has anything been dropped off the reissue, as far as we know?

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#6 Post by tojoed » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:30 pm

swo17 wrote:Is this a case where an alternate ratio presentation like for On the Waterfront would be appropriate? Or is 1.37:1 just plain wrong?
Plain right. I saw this film in the in the cinema in the 60s and it was academy ratio.
I didn't know that it was ever shown in any other way.

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Moe Dickstein
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The Great Aspect Ratio Debate...again.

#7 Post by Moe Dickstein » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:41 pm

One would expect a British production of this era to be 1.75 or 1.66. And as for independents, even the low budget "Plan 9" was framed for widescreen...

Could just be that the spec just isn't updated on the website yet? I'm sure whatever we get will be correct owing to the restoration and supervision by the DP.

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Gregory
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#8 Post by Gregory » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:45 pm

Would it help if I listed some British independents from this era that have never been shown in anything but Academy ratio?

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#9 Post by Prickly » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:46 pm

With the re-issue announcement I pulled out my old CC DVD and wonder if I have a bootleg. I bought it way back and can't recall from where, hoping someone with a copy could take a quick look. The disc has a gold-ish finish rather than the usual silver, and the serial # is L810 7982, followed by LOR201 and T00121-03 Z. The artwork, etc., looks real, and the film begins with the old CC name and the Janus logo.

Any help appreciated.
Just checked mine and exactly the same code / golden tinge. This was from DVDEmpire so should be okay.

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Moe Dickstein
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#10 Post by Moe Dickstein » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:51 pm

Anything is possible, but generally films shot after the mid-50s have to be assumed to be widescreen, as few were 1.33 after that (Things like "One From The Heart"), and there are plenty of examples of incorrect open matte transfers on DVD (Lean's "Summertime" for example).

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Gregory
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#11 Post by Gregory » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:58 pm

Specific knowledge is more compelling than general assumptions that may not apply in a particular case. Especially when we've already had someone point out that they saw it projected in Academy back in the '60s.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#12 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:19 pm

I take the fact that there is a big studio DVD release of this film, in 1.66:1, as evidence that it is widescreen over a 50 year old memory of a screening. Films shot for academy aren't going to work cropped down to a widescreen ratio, unlike widescreen films that can be presented open matte. And even if that memory is correct, all it means is that the cinema in question was not set up for widescreen, not that the film was composed for academy.

And the excessive head room, the opening credits and end title, should really put the matter to rest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature&v=FE2RL3fupms" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Gregory
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#13 Post by Gregory » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:35 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:I take the fact that there is a big studio DVD release of this film, in 1.66:1, as evidence that it is widescreen over a 50 year old memory of a screening... And even if that memory is correct, all it means is that the cinema in question was not set up for widescreen, not that the film was composed for academy.
Those are hardly the only relevant facts involved. I never suggested that one person's memory of a screening means that it was composed for Academy. I'm just trying to get beyond sweeping generalities, and the notion that the overall percentage of British films at the time that were widescreen (as cited in another thread today) or the ratio of Plan 9 tell us anything whatsoever about how Lord of the Flies was filmed.
Films shot for academy aren't going to work cropped down to a widescreen ratio, unlike widescreen films that can be presented open matte.
It's usually not as black and white as that with many films made during this era that were often seen in Academy, especially those that screened in smaller venues. It's possible to protect for widescreen overall, so that nothing looked too wrong when it was masked for widescreen projection, but still compose shots in Academy for when the film was shown at that ratio. The credits that you mention conform to that need to protect for widescreen projection. "Excessive head room" is subjective and relies on hand-picking certain shots to support a point about the entire film. There are many borderline cases, in fact, but there will almost always be those who simply insist that a given film was positively composed for one particular ratio (almost always the wide one) and a studio's position about it is gospel, so we should scoff at things like Criterion's On the Waterfront release. Whatever.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#14 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:56 pm

Yes, but I'll admit that I'm off the thinking that a director composes for the ratio that will be the one presented in major theaters (in fact nearly all theaters I imagine if we're talking 1963) and protects for the ratio that will be seen in small local cinemas and TV screenings. Not the other way around. But these are arguments that this and other boards have gone over many times for other films. They are not really worth debating again. Hopefully Criterion will correct their technical info, and if not, will provide a satisfactory explanation.

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knives
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#15 Post by knives » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:59 pm

I think we're all forgetting that Brook is still alive and appears to have worked on the disc at least somewhat (commentary and all) so if academy is wrong he might have said something.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#16 Post by MichaelB » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:05 pm

It's worth noting that for all his eminence as a theatre director, Peter Brook had never made a film before - and cameraman Gerald Feil had never shot one.

So it really isn't that hard to believe that they could have made it in Academy, if they had no idea that there was an alternative possibility. After all, Frank Henenlotter shot Basket Case in Academy nearly two decades later under a very similar impression.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#17 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:12 pm

MichaelB wrote:It's worth noting that for all his eminence as a theatre director, Peter Brook had never made a film before - and cameraman Gerald Feil had never shot one.

So it really isn't that hard to believe that they could have made it in Academy, if they had no idea that there was an alternative possibility. After all, Frank Henenlotter shot Basket Case in Academy nearly two decades later under a very similar impression.
If Criterion want to present evidence for this sort of explanation I'd be happy to accept it. The actual DP was Tom Hollyman (Feil was the editor) but he was also a complete unknown and only has a single film credit for working on LOTF. Heh, I'm even warming to such an explanation, it makes some sense. Though according to wikipedia and imdb Peter Brook had directed two films before LOTF, his second film, shot in 1960, was in 'Scope.

And it also leaves Warner Bros./Studio Canal's decision to release the film as 1.66:1 unexplained. Why release a film in widescreen in 2002 when barely anyone in the UK had a widescreen TV, when 4:3 is correct anyway, unless there is strong evidence for it?

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#18 Post by MichaelB » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:21 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:If Criterion want to present evidence for this sort of explanation I'd be happy to accept it. The actual DP was Tom Hollyman (Feil was the editor) but he was also a complete unknown and only has a single film credit for working on LOTF. Heh, I'm even warming to such an explanation, it makes some sense.
You're right - Feil was the cameraman, Hollyman the DP. But according to his Wikipedia biog:
In 1963 Hollyman met Peter Brook, who had come to Puerto Rico location-hunting for a low-budget film he was to make of the Nobel-prizewinning novelist, William Golding’s now –classic fable, “ LORD OF THE FLIES”. Hollyman and the British Royal Shakespearian director “ started an extended but intense conversation about film, the book, photography and even philosophy and although I had never ever used a movie camera, I ended up as Director of Photography for “ Flies”, Hollyman later recalled. He had “ only a few weeks to bone up on the craft, ” for this low budget production. “ None of the crew had ever worked a feature before, apart from Peter Brook. We had no electricity for lighting and the film was shot natural light in a rough documentary fashion, thoroughly non-Hollywood style…like news photography. “ The film, as with the book, became a cult classic and was lauded at Cannes as a “ seminal film of the New American Cinema and a fascinating anti-Hollywood experiment in location film-making.”
"Rough documentary fashion", "anti-Hollywood experiment", and a DP who'd only just learned how to do it... I don't have any problem believing that it was originally shot in Academy.
Though it does leave Warner Bros./Studio Canal's decision to release the film as 1.66:1 unexplained. Why release a film in widescreen in 2002 when barely anyone in the UK had a widescreen TV, when 4:3 is correct anyway, unless there is strong evidence for it?
Lots of people in the UK had widescreen TVs by 2002 - including my parents, who are the polar opposite of early adopters.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#19 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:34 pm

MichaelB wrote: "Rough documentary fashion", "anti-Hollywood experiment", and a DP who'd only just learned how to do it... I don't have any problem believing that it was originally shot in Academy.
Yes, I agree it's definitely possible. Though it bothers me that regardless of the circumstances, the crew is still composing for a ratio that few people back home will actually see, and practically no one in the States will see. It's very odd when the director had made films before, in widescreen no less. But if Brook or Feil or whoever confirms that was definitely the intention, then that's fine with me.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#20 Post by knives » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:40 pm

Well even today you get some people like Andrea Arnold and Gus van Sant regularly composing for academy for an unprofessional crew in the '60s probably wouldn't have taken that theatrical fact into consideration.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#21 Post by dwk » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:43 pm

MichaelB wrote:It's worth noting that for all his eminence as a theatre director, Peter Brook had never made a film before - and cameraman Gerald Feil had never shot one.

So it really isn't that hard to believe that they could have made it in Academy, if they had no idea that there was an alternative possibility. After all, Frank Henenlotter shot Basket Case in Academy nearly two decades later under a very similar impression.
Raimi did the same thing with The Evil Dead.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#22 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:43 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:But if Brook or Feil or whoever confirms that was definitely the intention, then that's fine with me.
Feil supervised the transfer.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#23 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:50 pm

knives wrote:Well even today you get some people like Andrea Arnold and Gus van Sant regularly composing for academy for an unprofessional crew in the '60s probably wouldn't have taken that theatrical fact into consideration.
True, but I assume these films aren't getting cropped down to a widescreen presentation like an academy film would have done so pre-digital projection?
dwk wrote:Raimi did the same thing with The Evil Dead.
As above, although The Evil Dead is 1.37:1, it was presented as 1.85:1 pretty much everywhere. It was a 16mm student film that ended up bigger than originally envisioned. If this was effectively the situation with LOTF and the reason for the 1.37:1 presentation from Criterion, then that's great. I'd just like Brook or Feil, or more likely Criterion themselves, to confirm it.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#24 Post by Gregory » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:18 pm

Yes, some of the Van Sant films in question have been erroneously shown in widescreen, even though it's not the director's preferred aspect ratio. On the Elephant DVD, for example there is a choice of widescreen or 1.33:1 even though the latter is definitely the preferred one. It has not always been possible to see Paranoid Park at Van Sant's preferred 1.33:1 ratio. The Tartan blu-ray is widescreen-only, for example.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#25 Post by knives » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:21 pm

What was really horrifying was going to the theater and seeing Paranoid Park stretched to 1.78.

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