As someone who’s fairly anal about aspect ratios, I always notice if a film is being shown in Scope or 1.85 or 1.37, but Average Joes rarely notice or remember. Even Hollywood professionals are clueless. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve asked film journalists or seasoned publicists if a film is in Scope or standard Academy ratio and they’ve answered “Uhm, I forget” or “what do you mean?”
So all in all, maybe 2000 or 3000 people in the entire world, if that, are going to notice that The Master was shot in 1.85, which is a departure, yes, for Paul Thomas Anderson.
But why shoot only half (or something close to half) of The Master in 65mm and the remainder in 35mm? To save money? Why not go whole-hog? I also wonder how many viewers will be able to tell which portions were shot in 65mm (which becomes 70mm when projected) and which portions were shot in 35mm. I’d like to think that I could tell the difference, but with today’s sophisticated lenses and ultra-sensitive film stocks plus high-end digital running through everything nowadays and even seasoned professionals not being able to tell the difference between film and digital, or at least not being 100% sure?
I honestly don’t think it matters that much anymore. Kodak is dead. Celluloid is almost dead. We have a ways to go before I can write that film is “dead, dead, deader than dead” but we might as well face facts and admit that it’s just about finished now and the only thing keeping it afloat are PTA and Chris Nolan and Wally Pfister and Reed Morano and a few other dps +Davy Crockett, Colonel Travis and Jim Bowie.