Sometime in the early to mid ’90s, or roughly 16 or 17 years ago, the Criterion Co. put out a laser disc of Stanley Kubrick‘s Lolita that — hold on to your hats — presented the film in alternating aspect ratios of 1.33 and 1.66, or the same way that an early 2001 DVD presented Dr. Strangelove, which is the way Kubrick shot both films and wanted them seen.
Before, that is, the fascist mindset took over and cropped Dr. Strangelove down to 1.66 to 1, blowing off the 1.33 portions entirely. Don’t listen to the 16 x 9 absolutists on this. They lie, they cheat, they maim…and they call information for numbers they could easily look up in the book.
The only way Lolita has been viewable since it began appearing on DVD is within a 1.66 to 1 aspect ratio. The recently released Bluray is also in 1.66 to 1. I’m fine with these, but I’m deeply sorry I never saw the alternating a.r. version.
I realize that relatively few people out there believe that “boxy is beautiful,” and that an alternating 1.33 and 1.66 version of Lolita means little or nothing to them, but I never bought this disc and never saw it anywhere, not once. And it’s killing me that today’s general fascist mindset (i.e., all non-Scope ’50s and ’60s films must closely conform to the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of high-def screens) makes it all but certain that this version of Lolita will never be exhibited or offered ever again. We all know who to blame for this so I won’t name names. I’m posting this as a lament.
Stanley Kubrick, Sue Lyon during filming of Lolita.
Allegedly a 2004 photograph of Sue Lyon.