It is currently Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:46 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 360 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ... 15  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 12:58 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:19 pm
Location: Amish Country
Gregory wrote:
Watching this in widescreen from the UK set, many of the closeups look ridiculously crowded and claustrophobic, with partial heads and faces in the frame.

Obviously you haven't seen Billy's compelling aspect ratio argument based on that great American classic, WarGames. Then again, John Badham was a cinematic artiste, while Sirk, Welles, and Metty were just studio hacks.


Top
 Profile  
 

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:32 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
fiddlesticks wrote:
Gregory wrote:
Watching this in widescreen from the UK set, many of the closeups look ridiculously crowded and claustrophobic, with partial heads and faces in the frame.

Obviously you haven't seen Billy's compelling aspect ratio argument based on that great American classic, WarGames. Then again, John Badham was a cinematic artiste, while Sirk, Welles, and Metty were just studio hacks.

That was a pretty dumb experiment because if anything, it proves the argument that Sirk was shooting to preserve the academy ratio-- films in the 80s of a certain ilk, like War Games, were almost certainly shot open-matte to preserve the image for easy video transfer, and a lazy director might let his cinematographer get sloppy in the framing. I know, how dare I question as established an auteur as John Badham, but here we are.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:56 pm
Location: Aldershot, Hampshire, UK
If you're going to cite John Badham, WarGames is probably not the best example to use. More often than not, his films were made in Scope and WarGames is one of the exceptions. (Another exception is Stakeout, and I remember from seeing that in the cinema is that the print was matted into 1.85:1.)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
I guess I should've phrased my Storaro rejoinder a little better -- my point is that Criterion (the "pros") acceded to Storaro's wishes rather than present The Last Emperor in its OAR.

I offer that not as an argument that Magnificent Obsession should be 1.33, just to suggest that it's entirely appropriate for cinephiles to question the decisions of the "pros." And what better venue for that than this one?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:56 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
Gregory wrote:
I'd be happy to take the time to write up a lot of examples if I thought there was the slightest would convince anyone.


For all the supposed controversy regarding the AR of Magnificent Obsession, I've never seen a detailed case for 1:37. Never. The historical record points toward 2:1. So the onus is on 1:37 advocates to make their case. Which they have never done.

This is an important matter of cinematic history. If you have a lot of examples that demonstrate Sirk's 1:37 intention for MO, I can't think of a validate reason NOT to share it.

And so while I love this board and am a part of it, the condescending attitude towards members of another forum (who make their argument based on historical evidence) makes us look amateurish, petty, and group-thinkish.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 11:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:57 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Quote:
Are you familiar with the Robert E. Carr and R. M. Hayes book Wide screen movies: a history and filmography of wide gauge filmmaking (1988)?

Quite, as well as his other book about 3-D Movies. Let me say with some degree of knowledge that Mr. Hayes books are to be taken with a big (read: BIG) grain of salt. His <i>Wide Screen Movies</i> book is not to be read without the complementary guide written by Dan Sherlock, which in some three-hundred pages, corrects all of Hayes' errors. Yes, there are that many mistakes, in BOTH books.

In regard to the curved screen-- initially, the curve was in many of the screens offered by companies at the time. The idea being that the curve would give you the "wrap-around" effect that Cinerama (where all of this started) would give you. CinemaScope "mirror" screens in particular were curved and metallic in nature (which was partly to increase gain, but also to maintain polarization for those theaters still running 3-D).

As a side anecdote, a theater here in New York had its original wooden tower for its CinemaScope screen until a few years ago when it was chopped down by someone who clearly didn't know that you could change rusty joints with new ones. #-o


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:11 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
GringoTex wrote:
Gregory wrote:
I'd be happy to take the time to write up a lot of examples if I thought there was the slightest would convince anyone.

For all the supposed controversy regarding the AR of Magnificent Obsession, I've never seen a detailed case for 1:37. Never. The historical record points toward 2:1. So the onus is on 1:37 advocates to make their case. Which they have never done.

This is an important matter of cinematic history. If you have a lot of examples that demonstrate Sirk's 1:37 intention for MO, I can't think of a validate reason NOT to share it.

"slightest chance it would convince anyone," I meant to write. Leaving out a word sometimes is normal for me, but two in a row is a feat.

Well, GringoTex, I hope you can understand my reluctance, as the only person apparently interested in discussing Sirk's mise-en-scène is someone who's already decided that MO looks like crap in 1.37.
I noticed many examples of the problems with this cropping about a year and a half ago when I saw the 2:1 DVD, but I don't have notes on them. I would have to watch the film again in academy and make notes of important things in the vertical space of each composition, then comparing them to the 2:1 UK disc to see how fucked up they are. I have both versions at hand and wouldn't really mind doing this if I thought it would contribute to what people here are interested in, but have you noticed how rare detailed discussions of mise-en-scène are on this forum? Anyway, I wonder what constitutes a "detailed case for 1.37." How many examples are we talking about?

Another reason for my reluctance is the way that this discussion has gone so far, and how intractable people on this forum tend to be toward arguments for the merits of Touch of Evil, Magnificent Obsession, and numerous others in academy. I mean, many people in these Sirk threads don't even seem willing to acknowledge the tricky history of the introduction of widescreen, that it involved taking a lot of films meant to be 1.37 and making them widescreen. This is established film history, and I thought a lot of people on this forum agreed that this revisionism has continued to the present, thus the displeasure over the widescreen DVD of Dial M for Murder, etc. All this is important context to any argument I would make on this subject.

Finally, I disagree that the historical record points to 2:1 being the best-looking ratio. Even if we accept that Sirk and Metty knew it would be shown in widescreen in some of the big-city theaters, it doesn't follow that they would entirely base their compositions on that ratio, and waste the rest of the space available to them. Most probably they would compose so that it would look OK in this new ratio but continue their practice up to that point of aesthetically utilizing all the space available to them, as they knew people would continue to see the film in academy ratio. But this is a difficult thing to resolve, as I've tried to argue, so I bristle a little at attempts to explain it away with curt appeals to "common sense."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:54 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:57 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Quote:
This is established film history, and I thought a lot of people on this forum agreed that this revisionism has continued to the present, thus the displeasure over the widescreen DVD of Dial M for Murder, etc.

Interesting that you use DIAL 'M' FOR MURDER as an example of "revisionism," when this isn't the case.

When Bob F. and I were writing our article about HONDO (another film with many myths surrounding it), we had access to the WB files at USC as part of our research. Being head of research at the 3-D Film Preservation Fund, I also called up files on a number of 3-D films, including DIAL 'M.' Among other interesting documentation and correspondence between Jack Warner and Hitch, there was a memorandum discussing Hitch's plans for using wide-screen. Unfortunately, I did not photocopy this memo, but perhaps on my next trip there.

The film, as you know, was shot in 3-D using WB's "All Media" camera rig (which also shot HONDO), but the viewfinders on that particular rig were set for wide-screen as well.

The Duke, likewise, discussed his plans for wide-screen and his ambivalence about getting TOO close to the subjects with wide-screen because it might strain viewers' eyes in 3-D.

I believe both documents are pretty clear about how the film-makers felt about wide-screen and the fact that they were utilizing them for their pictures.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:15 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
I actually meant to refer to The Wrong Man, which is 1.85 in the Warner R1, even though unless I'm mistaken it was composed for 1.66. There was displeasure on the forum over that; I don't recall whether anyone here expressed displeasure over the 1.85 transfer of Dial M in R2. Despite the fact that I actually had another Warner Hitchcock DVD in mind, I stand by Dial M in 1.85 as another example of incorrect OAR revisionism. I can't imagine it looking good at anything wider than 1.66. The only reason the transfer on the R2 doesn't look completely ridiculous with partially cropped off faces is that they added extra visual information on the sides (compared to the R1) to get the 1.85 ratio.
Was Dial M for Murder actually shown in 1.85 anywhere?

Has cdnchris's head exploded yet?


Last edited by Gregory on Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:18 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:57 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Well, Gregory, then I think it's just a matter of your taste then, not the film makers, for Hitch was pretty explicit about his use of the 1.85:1 frame.

And if that's the case, that's fine, but it's not right in context to how the film maker wanted the film to be seen.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:28 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
I've already allowed that I might be mistaken about 1.85 being wrong for Dial M. But even if there were evidence that the film was shown in 1.85 (I don't know whether there is) we also know it was shown in 1.66 and 1.33. Is your memory of this document clear that Hitch refers specifically to 1.85 and not widescreen in general (i.e. perhaps 1.66)? It does seem a little odd to me that Hitchcock would embrace the new 1.85 ratio for Dial M, composing primarily for that, and then go back to composing for 1.66 with the later The Wrong Man.
Anyway, we're going in circles here once again because my central points are not getting through. Just because he referred to using a wide aspect ratio, it doesn't necessarily follow that he was composing primarily for that.
Don't you think this was a case of composing for multiple ratios? And if so, wouldn't personal preference, or better still a careful interpretation of which works best cinematographically, have to come into play if there is more than one OAR?
Of course it's much simpler to simplistically look at bits an pieces of evidence that by themselves imply that filmmakers adapted their creative process to favor wide aspect ratios virtually overnight.


Last edited by Gregory on Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:21 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I'm glad this discussion is remaining civil, and there's lots of valuable information coming out, but I think the problem is that there will never be a definitive answer as to which ratio for these films is 'best'.

I think that the evidence presented clearly points to 2:1 being the 'official' ratio - at least as far as the studio was concerned - but the evidence available also clearly points to Sirk and Metty (and, for that matter, Welles and Metty) composing with both aspect ratios in mind. Given the importance of composition and visual detail for both directors, they didn't just fill up the larger frame with dead space, so why wouldn't we be interested in seeing how they addressed the different challenges of the two aspect ratios? It's also significant that in the case of both films, academy was their 'home turf', so looking at that version may be particularly revealing in terms of their stylistic evolution. By the same token, seeing how these directors adapt to a new AR for the first time is also exciting, as is seeing how they dealt with both at once.

From my perspective, all of the evidence adduced makes an excellent argument for issuing both versions in any edition of the films that purports to be definitive. Pretending that one or other AR is completely and utterly invalid and should be suppressed seems somewhat adolescent ("I win! You lose!" - actually, we're all losing).

I've got no idea whether Magnificent Obsession looks better in 1.37 or 2:1, but I'd like to be able to decide for myself. Even though we'll never know exactly which ratio was closest to Sirk's vision, we do know that he understood that it would be seen by lots of people in each, so why not respect that directorial intent?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:33 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
Location: LA CA
Gregory wrote:
... wouldn't personal preference, or better still a careful interpretation of which works best cinematographically, have to come into play if there is more than one OAR?

I'd be more inclined to consider the supposedly mise-en-scene-based "academy as intended, 2:1 reluctantly" argument seriously if I saw compositions consistently similar to those in the "open" MO in Sirk's earlier films. But try matting down All I Desire or some earlier academy Sirk film on your monitor, as I have, and these movies - not only CUs but even wide shots - become unwatchable. Sorry to be somewhat scientific, but, as Gregory notes, I don't think we're going to agree on what "works best cinematographically". In most direct comparisons of the often a bit tight 2:1 to the unusually loose academy MO frames, I found the 2:1 "works best".

edit: To tweak zedz' post (which came up while I was typing mine): the historical and aesthetic evidence makes it clear that Sirk/Metty knew the movie was going to be projected 2:1 and composed accordingly (otherwise, we'd have consistently impossible compositions a la a 2:1 All I Desire), but they also seemed to have taken care to produce academy frames that were well-lit, etc.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:20 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
I agree completely, zedz, and this is what I've been arguing for, and I simply can't understand what motivates some of the people in this thread arguing against me so vehemently when what I'm calling for is precisely the chance to see for oneself. Why would it bother these people to have the option to see other theatrical release formats. Nothing would be forcing them to watch it that way.
Those who stick up for the absolute correctness of widescreen for all the films in question and won't give an inch in the discussion -- who won't concede any point such as that Superscope was applied to some films that were composed in academy as far back as 1950 -- are oversimplifying matters in ways I tried to address here. But clearly I'm fighting a losing battle. It's such a shame that so many great films are getting released in only the widest of ratios when it would clearly be feasible to include more than one, and that many people are just saying, "Well, it looks OK to me" without seeing what they're missing.

By the way, sorry my posts are showing up as edited. I'm having browser issues.

yoshimori wrote:
I'd be more inclined to consider the supposedly mise-en-scene-based "academy as intended, 2:1 reluctantly" argument seriously if I saw compositions consistently similar to those in the "open" MO in Sirk's earlier films. But try matting down All I Desire or some earlier academy Sirk film on your monitor, as I have, and these movies - not only CUs but even wide shots - become unwatchable...
[T]he historical and aesthetic evidence makes it clear that Sirk/Metty knew the movie was going to be projected 2:1 and composed accordingly (otherwise, we'd have consistently impossible compositions a la a 2:1 All I Desire), but they also seemed to have taken care to produce academy frames that were well-lit, etc.

There's a difference between composing for 2:1 secondarily (or reluctantly, as you put it, although I might hesitate to put it that way) and not composing for 2:1 at all. So of course matting All I Desire down to that ratio is going to look more obviously wrong than MO in 2:1. The R2 of MO is borderline unwatchable to me, but obviously these aren't things that jump out to everyone as wrong. This is because the filmmakers were aware it would be shown that way in some theaters. But it doesn't follow that this ratio looks good or that they composed for this ratio above all others. Saying that they knew it was going to be projected 2:1 seems to suggest that they were prepared for everyone to see it this way. If that were true I doubt we'd even be having this discussion. I realize that may not be what you meant, but I'm just trying to clarify what strikes me as an ambiguity.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:58 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
Location: LA CA
Gregory wrote:
The R2 of MO is borderline unwatchable to me, but obviously these aren't things that jump out to everyone as wrong. This is because the filmmakers were aware it would be shown that way in some theaters. But it doesn't follow that this ratio looks good or that they composed for this ratio above all others.

I was responding to the comment that some have made that the historical trajectory of Mr Sirk's "mise-en-scene" suggests that the open MO is more "intended" (or maybe "consistent" would be a better way of putting it) than the 2:1 matte, that his compositional instincts favored the kinds of compositions we see in an open MO. My observation about All I Desire was meant to suggest that that is not the case. We do NOT get the kinds of extreme headroom etc in All I Desire (or any other Sirk I've seen) that we do in an open MO. You and others may like it, but I believe this is something that is scientifically verifiable, even if not conclusive. [I do also believe, btw, that the 2:1 compositions in MO are, in general, somewhat tighter than is typical of earlier Sirk. All of this is measurable. fwiw ...] [[Also, re the history of the discussion of the movie on this board, I believe you will find that the early proponents of the 1.33:1 ratio were the ones most vehement in denying the validity of the 2:1, not vice versa.]]

The second point I'd like to make is that, from a filmMAKING point of view, it is almost inconceivable that one would start with a preferred Academy ratio and then work to "make it somehow work" in a widescreen 2:1. It is much more standard practice (and common sense) to compose "for" the widescreen and then embellish (or however you'd like to think of it) the top and bottom of the open frame to taste. Now, of course, there is some room for give and take, but, again, the typical academy framing of Sirk's academy-only films would never survive Universal's 2:1 matte.

Gregory wrote:
Saying that they knew it was going to be projected 2:1 seems to suggest that they were prepared for everyone to see it this way.

I didn't intend to suggest that. I'm sure they knew it would NOT be seen by everyone that way -- thus the acceptability (or however you want to put it) of the Academy framing. What should be clear, however, is that Universal, as is shown in the Variety, Box Office, and other exhibitor guides, clearly instructed theaters to show it in the 2:1 ratio.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:02 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
Count me in the "let the viewer decide" camp. It's unfortunate that we can get two ARs for, say, Rush Hour 3, but not for films where there is a legitimate academic curiosity in more than one AR. (OK, I know pan and scan is a different issue, but I believe the practical implications are the same--you start with the print that has more information, make it presentable, and then make both versions of the film from it.) I understand it's too late for MO, but I would hold out hope that Criterion might handle this differently for future releases.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:12 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 2:22 am
Location: This almost empty gin palace
yoshimori wrote:
it is almost inconceivable that one would start with a preferred Academy ratio and then work to "make it somehow work" in a widescreen 2:1. It is much more standard practice (and common sense) to compose "for" the widescreen and then embellish (or however you'd like to think of it) the top and bottom of the open frame to taste.

Could you explain the logic behind this statement?

Greg, you may feel like you're banging your head against a wall, but your views, and measured approach, reflect those of (at least) several of us. Kudos.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: X-treme headroom
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:39 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
Thank you, carax09.

yoshimori, I'm afraid I don't understand what you're saying. I've already explained the reasons why All I Desire and MO would look different soft matted to 2:1. I don't see how something can be "scientifically verifiable, even if not conclusive."
As for people in the earlier discussion denying the validity of 2:1, I think that even those who find that the films in question lose a lot aesthetically in widescreen would not try to argue against a dual-format release. David, who has been among the most vehement in these discussions I believe remarked to me in PM once that he would generally favor dual-format releases of these difficult '50s films. (He hasn't been in this thread, or even posted on this forum in a few weeks, and I don't really expect him to join this discussion now, which is the only reason I'm trying speak for him about this point.)

Like carax09, I don't understand the reasoning that lets you claim that one can compose for a more open ratio and still have it look OK soft matted, because the visual information I'm talking about is mostly not people's heads or text at the top of the frame that would be cut off in 2:1. BUT neither is it just dead air, empty space that serves no important purpose in the mise-en-scene. I don't see why Sirk and Metty simply would want to waste this space when they could use it aesthetically to the benefit of those whom they knew would see it at 1.33, in many theaters and on television presentations. Most directors probably would waste it; not these two, not in the mid-50s. I do not find this to be "extreme headroom" but without the kind of detailed case for 1.37 that GringoTex mentioned, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this.

I'm going to be busy for the next couple of days but after that I'll try to write up at least a few examples of what's lost with the 2:1 ratio so that people have a more concrete idea of what I'm talking about. Fair enough?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:13 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
Location: LA CA
Don't know what I can say to explain further. I'll try it again this way: If you compose subjects (Mr Hudson et al) "for" 1.33:1, then the matted 2:1 frame will be useless (with decapitated subjects, missing information - thus the All I Desire example - none of which we see in MO). If you compose subjects "for" the 2:1 frame, then the 1.33:1 frame can be salvaged (or whatever word you want to use). MO is clearly composed re subjects "for" 2:1. This is, it seems to me, undeniable.

Re science: The placement of the subject in the frame and the amount of headroom typical in filmmakers' compositions is measurable. Therefore we can determine whether the open matte MO shows typical placement and headroom in a Sirk film or not. Several posters above support the open MO because they believe it reflects the typical Sirkian mise-en-scene. This is not the case. Don't know why this is so difficult to follow. Maybe I haven't put it clearly enough.

Also, I believe the earliest position of Mr Hare was more vehemently anti-2:1 than the one you mention you received in pm. He's a great forum member, and I have no objection to our getting an Academy version of MO, especially given the flux in AR during the early 50s, but my first posts here and my posts two years ago in the other thread, respond to my sense that others feel the 2:1 is somehow illicit.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:22 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:57 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
I'm pretty sure ALL I DESIRE was filmed before Universal went wide-screen, but don't quote me on that. It was ready by June of '53, so I think it was shot earlier in the year (March, maybe). In any case, I don't ever remember Universal advertising it as being a wide-screen film.

What I'm seeing here are a couple of people that are so wrapped up in their artistic jargon that they forget that these films were shot in a matter of a couple of weeks and that even a letter from the director will mean nothing to them. Have you folks ever been on a film set before? Do you realize how long it takes to actually line up a shot, rehearse it and keep everything in frame? If every cinematographer lined up his shots and composed things at multiple ratios (which doesn't make much sense-- you can only compose for one ratio and then make considerations for others), films would take MONTHS to shoot.

Sirk, Mitty, et al. were on tight budget and time constraints at Universal and needed these films cranked out. Is there artistry in them? Yes, but let's not beat around the fact here that they were soapers that were meant to target a particular audience. And considering the "A" status of these pix for a low-tier studio like Universal, I'm sure that not only would the front office demand that these films were shot in the process which they were going to be promoting, but they would, in fact, make sure of it.

Come to think of it, Universal was one of the first studios to start hard-matting their films, in around 1957.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:31 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
yoshimori wrote:
Don't know what I can say to explain further. I'll try it again this way: If you compose subjects (Mr Hudson et al) "for" 1.33:1, then the matted 2:1 frame will be useless (with decapitated subjects, missing information - thus the All I Desire example - none of which we see in MO). If you compose subjects "for" the 2:1 frame, then the 1.33:1 frame can be salvaged (or whatever word you want to use). MO is clearly composed re subjects "for" 2:1. This is, it seems to me, undeniable.

I don't think anyone is arguing with you on this point. Clearly MO was shot to work in 2:1 and All I Desire was not. But MO was also protected for 1.37:1. The argument is over the artistic merit of the protected area. And short of an explicit instruction from Sirk or Metty one way or the other, this will continue to be a matter of personal preference.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:47 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
yoshimori wrote:
Several posters above support the open MO because they believe it reflects the typical Sirkian mise-en-scene. This is not the case. Don't know why this is so difficult to follow.

Because there's been a lot of unclear language in this discussion (not just on your part, of course) and because mere assertions aren't going to get us anywhere. You can't judge "typical" Sirkian mise en scene from All I Desire because they were clearly not having to accommodate widescreen at all at that time. We have evidence that Sirk was aware of the need to accommodate for matting to widescreen with MO (regardless of whether this "makes sense" to thephotoplayer) -- David referred to these sources on p.1 of this thread. [EDIT: that's now p.1 over in the main Magnificent Obsession thread.]
Quote:
I have no objection to our getting an Academy version of MO, especially given the flux in AR during the early 50s...

Then why stand up and say "Criterion is right" following the outrage over them only presenting the film in 2:1. I would think you would say, "I don't think 2:1 is wrong but it would sure be nice if Criterion had included it in academy given the flux in AR in the early '50s [and beyond]."
---------
As for your latest post, photoplayer, there is no reason to refuse to believe that artistically conscientious filmmakers in the 1950s were trying to create works that looked as best they could in the multiple ratios at which their work would be seen, but that one or the other ratio best fits what they were trying to achieve with the film. I realize that what a given director is trying to achieve with the film is something you have no interest in discussing. It's like someone who will only discuss the music theory at work in a piece of music but refuses to entertain any discussion of the way the end product actually sounds.
In fact, there is every reason to believe that filmmakers had a period of transition during the 1950s -- it's simple film history, and there is no evidence that everyone switched over to composing for widescreen virtually overnight. If you are unwilling to compare the mise en scene in MO with that of Tarnished Angels and other later works, then you're missing important information to understand Sirk's framing.
But as far as I'm concerned you've disqualified yourself from saying anything worth listening to about this film with your argument that a rich Sirk film from the prime of his career was "cranked out" and thus I'm wrong to argue that he and Metty would be meticulous in the aesthetic choices in the ways they framed it in 1.37. Of course there were constraints, but the whole reason we love Sirk was because of what amazing things he did under them. Many of his consider him subversive in a way because he snuck such amazing artistic achievements into parcels of what at first blush were considered routine genre fare. He did more than the people signing his checks ever understood. Do not sell him short. No one with the slightest understanding and admiration for what Sirk achieved would pull the old "these were just weepies for women" card -- and I don't even understand your point in doing so. Why would Universal be more likely to demand that "soapers" in particular would be composed primarily for 2:1 with nothing but insignificant dead space in the protected 1.37? How would they even verify this, as long as the film looked generally acceptable in 2:1 to the layperson? These studio people were not experts in the mise en scene of these films.
I think you already showed your ignorance regarding Magnificent Obssesion in your first post when you stated that the aperture plate was 2:1. Clearly they exposed the whole negative and then soft-matted it, otherwise I would be unable to watch it today in 1.33 unless it was pan-and-scanned. -- Unless I somehow misunderstood what you were saying about this aperture plate.
Add to that your total unwillingness to countenance the fact that during this period the studios were applying widescreen ratios to films that were never composed that way, as I've mentioned giving the example of SuperScope -- and I have nothing more to say to you on this.
If I can find the time to learn how to post screen captures soon I will post examples of what I'm talking about, for the perusal of those who are still undecided. I'm through arguing with those whose minds are completely made up.


Last edited by Gregory on Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:59 am
"All I Desire" was filmed December 1952 - January 1953, months before the studios switch to widescreen. It's 1:37 all the way.

Some of you have questioned how a director deals with composing for multiple ratios. Here are some quotes from George Sidney in an 11/8/53 LA Times interview discussing "Kiss Me Kate."

"Besides being in 2D and 3D and color, Kate is also in three different aspect ratios - 1.66, 1.75 and 1.85 to 1. That means wide, wider and widest screen. When I shot the picture, I had to keep all those ratios in mind - in addition to depth and non-depth. Six ways in all!

My cameraman, Charles Rosher, and I had to compose every shot three different ways at the same time. What would be good for one width would not be good for another. It was tricky, but we got around it by building more tops on sets, more floor and more sets in forced perspective to enhance the depth. The wider the screen, you see, the narrower: we had to compensate for those cut-off tops and bottoms."

For the record, many people believe that Kate had a limited 3-D release. Not true. It played most engagements in its wide screen, dimensional version.

You'll note that Sidney makes no mention whatsoever of 1.37, even though Kate is indeed protected for that ratio. That's very telling of how unimportant that ratio had become within the industry. By that period late in 1953, full Academy theatrical presentations were becoming the exception, not the rule. If you're inclined to do some research with primary source materials, you'll find exhibition trends well documented in Variety, Boxoffice, Hollywood Reporter, Motion Picture Herald, Film Daily and Exhibitor. These are not fan-boy news stand periodicals, but trade journals intended for people within the motion picture production and exhibition industry. They accurately document the turmoil within the industry during that time - warts and all.

Jack is right, MO was in production for about 4 weeks. That's not nearly enough time for the film-makers to spend hours on each set-up for two different ratios. That's why they composed for widescreen and protected for standard ratio. If they included a shadow at the top of the frame behind Rock's head knowing it would not be seen in 2:1, then surely that shadow must not be terribly significant. Otherwise, don't you think they would insure it's visibility in the widescreen version?

Gregory: you refer to "Jet Pilot" and SuperScope as if that was standard practice during that time. That was an isolated case of a film sitting on the shelf for nearly 8 years!

Once again, the studios began composing for widescreen in April-May 1953 and theaters began installing new widescreens starting in May. That's a pretty short window and painting the changeover with such a broad brush is historically inaccurate.

Sure, there were titles shown widescreen during that time which were composed for standard ratio, but they're not as many as you seem to believe.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:21 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
This conversation has gone off the rails. A declared wish to not get into the heads of the filmmakers and what they were thinking on the set has morphed into construing what one filmmaker's intentions were on one film, by reading into the statements by another filmmaker on an entirely different film (shot in 3D!!)... and drawing a conclusive industry-wide conclusion via what this other director did not mention (i e because 1.37 OAR was not mentioned by another director, we can conclude that it was an insignificant ratio across the board and that no director considered it-- which is absurd because of the huge force of television which prompted this wave of widescreening in the first place!!).

I'm prepared to throw down a challenge here: if you're not prepared to assess a film's images--particularly films from a transitional period where exhibitions in multiple ratios were the norm, and the filmmakers knew their work would be entering the powerful new realm of television in 1.37--according an aesthetic criteria, no matter how personal, taste-driven, or potentially incorrect... but if you're not prepared to assess which image appears to be more functional, which appears to "work" better than the other, then you're not contributing anything to the discussion because you're "missing" the whole point of the discussion.

Yes we know you can dredge up the dictates of the front office, which determined that these films would be plated upon projection to some version of widescreen. That's never been in debate.

You know the term "smuggling"? The idea of sneaking one by the front office? etc? This is the industrial disposition we're acknowledging, that directors & dp's had their work subject to the dictates of men who made what they (the filmmakers) felt were idiotic, almost embarassing publicity-driving decisions. Trends and practices which were considered by filmmakers to be ridiculous, absurd, pathetic.

The feeling is that by looking at caps of TOE or MO, for example, the trained viewer gets the sense that the filmmakers thought that this widescreen masking was a brief tunnel that their film would pass thru for a couple of weeks of exhibition, whereby it would subsequently be treated with a sense of what they thought would be normalcy (we must take into consideration that in this case they turned out to be wrong, and made the adjustment, which is visible later on). A man like Sirk had seen widescreen come and go already. Obviously, as more time went by, although the 2:1 ratio would plunk into the toilet, filmmakers understood that widescreen wasn't going anywhere. This isn't a criteria applied to every film made during this period. Only those which look notoriously awful in their widescreen ratio.

Some look at the 2.0:1 caps and say "these are composed so weakly, and the 1.37 look so patently sirkian, so powerful, that were cannot conclude otherwise."

Comprende? Paperwork and front office sheets are not really contributing to the discussion. We're following a sense that there's some "smuggling" that was going on here, something you're not going to find in studio data sheets... kind of like director's/screenwriters plans for getting around and subverting the code.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:36 pm
Location: "born in heaven, raised in hell"
Can someone please post comparison caps of the film in both ARs. Please. This way we can have a better basis for discussion.

Thanks in advance.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 360 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ... 15  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection