We’ve never technically met but we did a phoner while you were cutting Casino. It was for an Entertaiment Weekly piece I was working on about a restoration of The Wild Bunch. This is the same email I’ve sent you via the Film Foundation email address. I’m double-posting out of concern that it might not get through with your editing of Wolf of Wall Street demanding all your time and attention.
You may not have heard about the great Shane Bluray brouhaha by now so I’ll just summarize. Warner Home Video has licensed the rights from Paramount for a Shane Bluray that was prepared by George Stevens, Jr. and, I’m told, the folks at Technicolor. As you probably know Shane was shot by George Stevens and dp Loyal Griggs between July and mid-October 1951 with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. And yet I’ve been told by Stevens, Jr. that the WHV Bluray will present his father’s film at a 1.66:1, which Stevens Jr. was apparently asked to compose by Paramount Home Video execs.
Stevens, Jr. has been very exacting, he told me, in making sure that the 1.66:1 compositions do not compromise his father’s classic film, and that given a choice between presenting a 1.37 Shane with big black bars on either side of the image and a 1.66 Shane with slender borders on either side he believes that the latter will be commercially preferable. He also said he’s confident that his father would be pleased with the 1.66 version.
I’m sorry but Stevens Sr. and Griggs shot Shane in 1.37 and that’s the end of it — there can be no other consideration. Stevens Jr. told me that a 1.37 “Academy ratio” version was also prepared for Bluray. If WHV wants to release the Shane Bluray at an alternative 1.66 aspect ratio for commercial purposes, fine, but out of respect for the vision of Stevens Sr. and Griggs they need to make the 1.37 version available via Warner Archives. If you review the comments about this issue on Home Theatre Forum you’ll see that the overwhelming majority agree that both versions of Shane need to be made available.
Respected archivist Bob Furmanek has written on HTF that Shane “was clearly composed for 1.37:1. I prefer to see it in that ratio. I feel that is how it should be seen.” And restoration guru Robert Harris says on HTF that “while I would love to also see the film in 1.37…hopefully, a dual format release can occur, as the data would have been completed both ways.”
I’m assuming that you agree with the 1.37 crowd, and am also hoping that perhaps you could make your opinion known. Anything you could do, say or write would, one assumes, greatly influence WHV’s decision regarding the 1.37 version being made available down the road. Many thanks and best of luck with Wolf of Wall Street.
Jeffrey Wells, HE
p.s.: Here’s a link with two HE articles about the Shane dust-up.