This post will be pretty much the last of it from me, at least for now. I had planned to post some screen captures, but the consensus here seems to be that we can conclude nothing about framing from still images from DVDs, even when a careful comparison between them has been made. If it's unlikely to convince anyone, I'd just as soon not bother, especially as we've already had several caps in the thread today and there are some from David on p.1. It gives at least some idea.
Bob Furmanek wrote:
Gregory did the same thing with a general statement I made about MO not being shown on TV for 20 years. Okay, maybe it was 15 but again, I was making a generalization which was not essential to the AR issue. It was simply to counter the rather ridiculous assumption that Sirk/Metty were composing for TV.
I don't know where you get 15 years, either, but I guess it's a little less of an exaggeration than 20. My point was that they were taking into account the likelihood of TV airings as part of their motivation for using the extra space afforded them by exposing the full frame. No one has given any reason why Sirk would waste this space throughout the film (granted not ALL the extra visual information is useful; I donâ€™t think anyone would expect that). He was such an expert at using objects, special lighting, and other things that would be trivial to most viewers at the time but meaningful to us now.
The TV thing only makes sense as part of a larger speculation I was making; I never said they were "composing for TV."
Gregory: posting a frame-grab from a tracking shot is not going to be very helpful in comparing the two ratios.
I tried to be clear about what I felt was lost in the shot. It wasnâ€™t just a frame-grab but also a description of what happens in the shot â€“ you know, documentation. The film itself is also evidence when discussing the mise-en-scene, which I still insist is the only way to discuss whether there are indeed valuable things about watching the film in academy. This was probably not the absolute best example I could have chosen, but I found the still online and wanted to mention something I could illustrate without having downloaded software for doing screen caps.
I agree with Via Chicago that seeing the film in motion is the best thing and that caps can only show so much. That's been the underlying purpose of my argument: if I had my way we would get to compare are no one is denied anything. Those disagreeing with this position are getting their way, thus itâ€™ll remain somewhat difficult to make the comparison.
Anyway, I knew that a few captures wouldn't convince anyone already decided that widescreen was â€œcorrect.â€ My intent in addressing Bobâ€™s posts wasnâ€™t to try to convince him but to present a different point of view for those who are undecided, who see that the issue isn't as simple as looking at the studioâ€™s recommended aspect ratio at the time. The example of Vera Cruz bears that out, and Iâ€™m glad we can seem to agree that there are some sticky wickets that date from this unusual era when widescreen was being heavily promoted. These things have repercussions in the DVD era, that come from misinformed or oversimplified views of ARs of the period, as weâ€™ve seen with MGMâ€™s decision to produce Vera Cruz with a flat 2:1 transfer.
The only other thing I want to say is that I hope no oneâ€™s enjoyment of the film will be hampered by this whole argument. I think some good things have come out of it, here and there, which might provoke thought or interest in the film and its compositions. But thatâ€™s only part of the filmâ€™s appeal, I think. I look forward to other discussions at a later date about more meaningful things, like what Sirk was trying to say to us with this film. There are a lot of interesting things to be said about that, and itâ€™s a discussion Iâ€™d like to see go beyond the small, mostly academic area in which earlier reassessments of Sirk have taken place.