Dr. Svet Atanasov‘s review of the triple-format On The Waterfront Bluray (Criterion, 2.19) went up yesterday on Bluray.com. The praise is abundant — “simply fantastic…flawless contrast …overwhelmingly beautiful blacks and whites…absolutely no traces of problematic lab tinkering.” But he doesn’t summarize the content of “On the Aspect Ratio,” a six-minute essay that explains why Criterion went with three aspect ratios. One of their reasons, I’m fairly certain, was to placate people like me.
Bluray.com screen capture of white-glove scene.
1.66, or 1.67 if you believe Atanasov.
If you’re not like me (i.e., not invested in “boxy is beautiful” headroom), take a look at the above screen captures and explain to me how it’s better to chop Marlon Brando‘s knees off and to kill the smoggy sky above the peak roofs and chimneys in the background. There really, really has to be something wrong with you to say “yes, that’s good, cut off those knees and fuck the sky.”
Dr. Svet reports that Criterion’s 1.66 version is actually 1.67…what? Why not 1.65, guys? Why not 1.58? Why not 1.50? Create your own personal aspect ratio! Is Atanasov wrong or is Criterion getting perverse? The middle-ground a.r. should be 1.66, period.