A clear indication of the weakened state of the 1.85 fascist cabal is their odd silence about the 1.66 aspect ratio used for the just-released Bluray of Peter Bogdanovich‘s At Long Last Love (’75). As I believe in 1.66 as an eternal idea in the mind of God, I’m naturally delighted that this notorious clunker has been released in this format. The boxier the better, I say; especially for a film that sought to revive the spirit of 1930s musicals, when 1.37:1 was the rule. But I’m not aware of any historical justification for 1.66 being used for this 1975 film. Every stateside film was being shot in 1.85 in the ’70s except when otherwise specified (Stanley Kubrick‘s Barry Lyndon, etc.) and/or in the case of European films, and by ’75 every theatre in the U.S. was working with 1.85 aperture plates.
Here’s a nifty Huffington Post discussion about “Movies That Divides Us”, focusing mainly on Spring Breakers. MSN’s Glenn Kenny (“Eeww, here’s a subversive Harmony Korine film finally making its way into the mainstream market!”), Huffpost movie wag Chris Rosen, The Inquisitir‘s Niki Cruz and director William Friedkin. Ricky Camilleri moderates.
Wells to Friedkin: Have you given any thought to joining the good-guy team and offering the Sorcerer Bluray at 1.66, even though you don’t have to and can fully justify mastering it at 1.85? It’s a free-thinking movement, Billy. And the philosophy of this movement is, “We can watch movies any way we want.” To hell with projection standards from 40 or 50 years ago. This is 2013, and if we like the way an older film looks at 1.37 or 1.66 then we can bloody well show it that way. Eff 1.85…unless, of course, we really and truly like 1.85 and are not just being cowed by the 1.85 fascists.
Update: Friedkin to Wells: If you want to see my movie in 1.66 you can mask your display. What is a 1.85 fascist? I’ve never heard of such an animal.
Last night director William Friedkin tweeted that the much-hungered-for, long-stymied Bluray of Sorcerer, his brilliant 1977 remake of Henri Georges Clouzot‘s Wages of Fear, is finally in the works. “The original negative is in good condition [and] it’s now being budgeted to make a new digital master,” Friedkin said. He added that the Bluray will “not be released by Criterion.”
This is excellent news, of course. I’ve been pining for a Sorcerer Bluray for years. But a thought occured when I read this, and I tweeted it right away to Friedkin. Why not master Sorcerer at 1.66? Friedkin replied that it was framed for 1.85 so why 1.66? I came back with my usual “1.66 is beautiful + it breathes better” response.
But I was also thinking that 1.66 fits because Sorcerer has an international cast, one of the major characters (played by Bruno Cremer) is French and the dominant non-Scope aspect ratio in France during the ’70s was 1.66. (I saw that 1.66 version of Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby at a Paris revival house in ’76.)
An hour later I discovered a passage from Thomas Claggett‘s 2003 Friedkin biography, “William Friedkin: Films of Aberration, Obsession, and Reality,” that states the following, according to Sorcerer‘s Wiki page: “During the 1980s and 1990s, like Stanley Kubrick, Friedkin consistently claimed that he preferred the home video releases of his films to be presented in the full-frame format.”
But things are different in 2013, apparently. All TVs are 16 x 9 and Friedkin now wants the Sorcerer Bluray to be cleavered in order to conform to this aspect ratio (i.e., 1.78 to 1 with thin black borders on the top and bottom, which renders 1.85). He did frame Sorcerer for 1.85, of course — the long-established U.S. aspect-ratio standard. There’s nothing wrong in releasing the Bluray this way. And there’s nothing wrong with Friedkin wanting to go with the current commercial flow.
But asserting “during the 1980s and 1990s” that he preferred the full-frame version clearly indicates Friedkin would be at the very least content with a little more height on the Sorcerer Bluray, if not secretly pleased. You can’t be a quoted vocal supporter of the “boxy is beautiful” aesthetic and then turn around a decade or so later and say “Naah, I didn’t mean that…chop off the tops and bottoms and make it 1.85.”
How could it hurt to go the Masters of Cinema route and present two versions of the Sorcerer Bluray — one in 1.85 and the other in either 1.66 or 1.37? Where would the harm be? The 1.85 fascists would hate this, of course, but isn’t that a good thing? These guys are on the ropes after Criterion’s multi-aspect-ratio release of their On The Waterfront Bluray. Bluray distributors who “get it” need to seize the moment and release more of these and marginalize the fascists as much as possible.
Three and a half months have passed since Criterion announced its decision to issue its On The Waterfront Bluray (streeting on 2.19, or about three weeks hence) in three separate aspect ratios — 1.33, 1.66 and 1.85. And I’m still trying to understand how this doesn’t undermine if not discredit Bob Furmanek‘s advocacy of 1.85 as a general cropping standard for Blurays and DVDs of all non-Scope films shot from April 1953 on.
There’s no disputing that non-Scope films began to be projected in U.S. theatres starting in mid to late ’53 and that this standard gathered momentum and was pretty much the across-the-board deal by the end of that year, or certainly by early ’54. Nor is anyone disputing that Elia Kazan‘s On The Waterfront, released in July 1954, was shot by Kazan with the understanding that it would be projected at 1.85. I’ve looked at the 1.85 version on iTunes and while I don’t find it comforting or pleasing, it’s very nicely framed. Kazan was no bum. He knew what he was doing.
Why, then, did Criterion chiefs decide to ignore Furmanek’s research and issue three different versions of Waterfront? Uhm, gee….I don’t know. Because the film breathes much better at 1.33 or 1.66? Because they see merit in my argument about headroom being a really nice and desirable thing? Because they decided that distributors and exhibitors wanting theatrical films to be presented at 1.85 from mid-1953 on so they would look wider than TV screens shouldn’t be the end-all and be-all of watching films on Bluray in the 21st Century?
In my book the Furmanek 1.85 theology went out the window when Criterion decided on this triple-aspect-ratio approach. Criterion is by far the most purist, dweeby, grain-monky home-video outfit in the United States, and if these guys decide that 1.85 isn’t the King Shit of aspect ratios for a classic 1954 film…well, that means something. It means “all bets are off” if a company renowned for cinematically pure standards is willing to accomodate the headroom values that I’ve been espousing for years. It means that the game is basically over for the 1.85 fascists.
From here on the shape of every 1950s and ’60s film being mastered for Bluray is negotiable. If Criterion can play it loose and tap-dancey with the aspect ratio of On The Waterfront, any aspect ratio on any non-Scope film can be fiddled with.
Here’s how I explained it last October in a piece called “Glorious Furmanek Setback“: “Directors and dps of the mid ’50s used and composed 1.85 framings starting in 1953 because they were ordered to and not because they wanted to. I also find it hard to believe that anyone with any sense of aesthetic balance and serenity would have freely chosen 1.85 framing a when the much more elegant 1.33 or 1.66 framings were an option. And so I’ve always felt a profound resentment toward absolutist 1.85 advocates when it comes to evaluating the proper proportion of films of this era.
“I genuinely feel there is something cramped and perverse in the aesthetic eye of anyone who would consider these options and say, ‘It is better to squeeze the action down into this severely cropped-off aspect ratio…it is better to have the action in this or that film confined within a lowered-ceiling aesthetic straight out of Orson Bean‘s cramped office floor in Being John Malkovich.’
“And it is also my belief — my allowance — that the 1950s TV box aspect ratio of 1.33 is somehow more calming than 1.66, that it agrees with and flows naturally from the framing aesthetic of Hollywood of the ‘early ’30s to mid ’50s, which was deeply ingrained at the beginning of the studio-mandated transition era that began in the spring of 1953, and that it conveys a certain naturalism, a freedom, an atmosphere of gloriously spacious headroom…aahh, why go on? You can’t explain this stuff. Either the eyes of the beholder get it or they don’t. Mine know the truth of it. The concept of removing visual information from a frame of film strikes me as wicked and almost evil, in a way.”
“It is different today, of course. Our aesthetic eye, our sense of visual rhyme and harmony adapted decades ago to seeing movies in 1.85, and it’s as natural as breathing now…but not then. NOT then. At the very, very least, if the research-fortified, Movie God-defiant Forces of Furmanek insist on 1.85 framings for Blurays of films from this era, they should at least follow the example of the Masters of Cinema Touch of Evil and now — hark the herald angels sing! — the upcoming Criterion Bluray of On The Waterfront and offer dual or triple aspect ratios.”
Speaking as a lifelong worshipper of Michelangelo Antonioni‘s alienation trilogy of the early ’60s, I’ve always felt closer to L’Avventura or L’eclisse than La Notte. But I’m willing to give the latter a fresh try when the Masters of Cinema Bluray arrives in late April. The claim about “previously censored sequences restored for the first time” on the Bluray might be bogus. A Criterion forum guy says the restored footage was on the earlier MOC DVD.
But seriously….orange? Orange on a golf course? How could a color that says traffic cones and prison jump suits blend with a sublime classic that oozes black-and-white European perversity? The same fanatic who designed that Masters of Cinema Touch of Evil Bluray with that awful emphasis on orange is at it again. Before the orange vogue kicked in four or five years ago, the only person who was totally down for this color was Frank Sinatra.
I feel a slight tingle of pleasure whenever a new Bluray of a ’50s or ’60s film is released in 1.66. The 1.85 fascists will insist otherwise so as to appear moderate and reasonable, but I know that deep down they wince inside every time they see the term “1.66.” They’re a bunch of One-Eyed Jacks. I’ve seen the other side of their face.
HE reader “Criterion 10” attended a discussion with the Criterion Co.’s Kim Hendrickson and Curtis Tsui at Columbus, Ohio’s Wexner Center Tuesday evening, during which they mentioned Criterion’s upcoming On The Waterfront Bluray “and how they were having a difficult time deciding which aspect ratio in should be presented in. And so, they said, it will be presented in all three: 1.33:1, 1.66:1 and 1.85:1.”
“Criterion 10” has called and double-confirmed, and glory be to God. This is the first significant setback to Bob Furmanek and the 1.85 aspect ratio fascists. Criterion has apparently decided to follow the example of Master of Cinema’s dual a.r.-ed Touch of Evil Bluray. This is wonderful news. If I were drinking I’d be popping the champagne tonight, you bet! It’s been nothing but defeat, defeat and more defeat for the light and space theology, but now, today, finally, maybe….a shaft of light!
Update: The Waterfront triple-aspect-ratio news has been confirmed in the Criterion forum.
I wish I could see the faces of those 1.85 fascists who’ve given me shit on this issue over the past couple of years. I can’t wait to hear from Pete Apruzzese and the rest of them. This is the best aspect-ratio news since Glenn Kenny posted Jay Cocks‘s Barry Lyndon “smoking gun” letter from Stanley Kubrick, which proved that Leon Vitali was wrong about Lyndon‘s correct aspect ratio being 1.78 and the right aspect ratio was 1.66.
I was thinking a day or two ago about how John Frankenheimer‘s The Train (’65) — the last Hollywood-produced action flick shot in black-and-white, and a reminder of how wonderfully alive and detailed monochrome could look — really needs to be remastered for Bluray. Jean Tournier and Walter Wottitz‘s cinematography is lighted and captured to perfection — it’s just heavenly, and I don’t what the hangup is. The last MGM Home Video DVD of The Train was created 13 years ago.
The Train at its proper aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1.
The Train is especially valued by me because of its 1.66 aspect ratio, which the 1.85 fascists….okay, I’ll restrain myself. One hopes that if and when The Train is Blurayed the fascists will consider the fact that all United Artists releases (which this was back in ’65) were projected theatrically at 1.66, and that The Train was issued on laser disc and DVD at 1.66. Anyway, I was imagining how I would feel if and when this Bluray were to be somehow Furmaneked, and how angry I’ll be if and when this occurs.
But today this anger went away when I read a nearly month-old article by Kyle Westphal about aspect ratios (called “Invasion of the Aspect Ratios“) on the Northwest Chicago Film Society’s website. It’s an an intelligent, perceptive, fair-minded essay, and it says some things that even the 1.85 fascists might agree with. Well, you never know. But I know it made me realize that at least some people out there get what’s really been going on with the aspect-ratio battles.
Here’s part of what Westphal said — fascists should consider the boldfaced portions:
“In some sense, it’s only natural that home video releases stir [highly emotional] feelings. DVD and Blu-ray versions tend to fix a film in time and space; the image is immune from the scratching and cinching that occasionally afflict film prints, but it’s also removed from the realm of interpretation and manipulation available to the projectionist or archivist. There’s no adjusting the focus or framing after a studio QC tech has ruled the matter closed.
“Magnificent Obsession is either 1.37:1 or 2:1, but not both. The recent vogue for 16:9 HDTV sets, which approximate fairly closely the 1.85:1 theatrical ratio, often dictates the ultimate answer, just as decades of 4:3 sets once assured a very different outcome, with the left and right edges panned-and-scanned away for cropped consumption. For asset managers and telecine operators alike, the question of the proper aspect ratio can yield but one valid answer.
“Longtime fans often dispute this answer. They recall television broadcasts or 16mm prints seen in decades-old campus film society screenings and the widescreen versions simply contradict the emotional and aesthetic unity they found in these open-matte prints. Trade papers and studio records may dictate a wide aspect ratio for a given film, but the fan holds onto details at the far reaches of the frame that look artistically indisputable.
“In some sense, this is the ultimate form of auteurism: the director intended things that the entire motion picture industry, from mogul on down to projectionist, conspired to cover-up. The great auteurs defiantly went about their business anyway.
The same shot Furmaneked at 1.85.
“What’s the right answer? We can argue about intent all day, but whose intent matters here in the first place? Is it what the studio dictated in their press book or what the lab printed in the leader? Is it what the director wanted on screen or what the cinematographer saw in the viewfinder? And what if that intent is deliberately confused or clouded? Famously, Paramount produced Shane in 1.37:1, but released it with a suggested ratio of 1.66:1 at the dawn of the widescreen era, fearful that its backlog product would look antiquated in wider pastures.
“Rather than jockey for the ‘correct’ aspect ratio for a given film, we should respect the multiplicity of possible answers suggested by material circumstances of the exhibition sector.
“During the transition to widescreen and again today in the waning days of the multiplex, the intended ratio (whether conjectured, intuited, or proven on paper) often ran up against the constraints imposed upon (and often by) the exhibitor. In the tumultuous year of 1953, studios weighed and hedged against various technological innovations (widescreen, 3-D, curved screens, magnetic sound, etc.) and announced new in-house aspect ratios before the autumn unveiling of Fox’s The Robe in Cinemascope and high-fidelity, four-track surround sound.
“Until the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers standarized non-anamorphic American productions to 1.85:1, the studios released product in a variety of ratios. RKO and Paramount preferred 1.66:1. Disney and United Artists suggested 1.75:1. Columbia and Warner Brothers put out 1.85:1 product. Universal-International released 2:1. These prints often looked identical to the naked eye, with the different ratios being entirely dependent on the proper lens and aperture plates for the projector. Surely these ratios prevailed at studio screening rooms but were these dictates respected anywhere else?
“Cinemascope was itself an expensive proposition, with many showmen balking at the high cost of equipping a theater for magnetic sound. Did exhibitors, historically disinclined to spend a cent more than necessary to get an image on screen, invest in equipment for all these variant ratios, especially when the anamorphic Cinemascope was the only one that carried any name recognition with the public?
“Paramount allowed its VistaVision prints to be shown at a number of different ratios, as the conceit of the brand had more to do with high-quality origination on an enlarged camera negative than with the final shape on screen. Anyone who’s seen an original 35mm IB Technicolor print from VistaVision elements will likely agree with Paramount’s reasoning.
“Aside from the investment in lenses, plates, and masking controls for these competing widescreen ratios, what of the inherent limitations of theater architecture? Whether working in former legitimate houses or purpose-built cinemas, the exact ratio on screen was often determined by relatively pedestrian factors like the throw distance between the projectors and the screen, the focal lengths of available lenses, the shape of the proscenium, the constraint of the curtain, and the pictorial sensibility (or lack thereof) on the part of the management. “
What’s the point of being a 1.85 fascist if you’re not going to be that thing when some renegade Bluray distributor defies the rules? Does Bob Furmanek believe that all non-Scope Hollywood studio films released after April 1953 were projected at 1.85 or not? Olive Films’ forthcoming Bluray of Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (originally released on 5.27.54) is presented at 1.37 to 1, despite the fact that the 1.85 mandate had been adopted by the nation’s theatres approximately 13 months before the film’s theatrical release. And not a single 1.85 fascist has said boo.
You may not agree with my “boxy is beautiful” theology, but at least I say what I feel and let aspect-ratio revisionists like Furmanek have it with both barrels when they advocate for the CLEAVER-ing of classic ’50s films that have been savored for decades at 1.33 or 1.37. At least I respond like a man, which is more than you can say for Furmanek and his ilk. Am I wrong? Has Furmanek written anything? Has anyone?
I can already hear the counter-argument. Johnny Guitar wasn’t a big-studio film — it was produced by Republic Pictures — and was therefore exempt from the 1.85 masking rule that applied to all major releases in all of the nation’s theatres. But Ray and his producer, Herbert J. Yates, were obviously aware that the 1.85 word had gone out and that theatres were using 1.85 aperture plates on all non-Scope films. By what logical basis would Ray and his dp, Harry Stradling Sr., compose for 1.37 and expect that it would be seen that way in theatres? They might’ve composed for 1.37 in their hearts (as I believe Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock did during filming of On The Waterfront and Dial M for Murder) but there was no rational reason for them to expect that their film would be projected at 1.37, at the very least in big-city theatres where the new standard was adopted right away.
Conversation between two projectionists in the booth for New York’s Mayfair theatre (later called the DeMille) on 5.28.54:
Projectionist #1: Where are the 1.37 aperture plates?
Projectionist #2: Why do you wanna know? We don’t use those any more.
Projectionist #1: Okay, but after closing last night I ran Johnny Guitar last night at 1.37 — I was curious, all right? I’m also sentimental — and it looks pretty good. It looks nice and boxy with plenty of headroom so fuck it…why don’t we just run it that way for the public?
Projectionist #2: But everything is projected at 1.85 now. Has been for a year now. Whaddaya doin’? You can’t improvise this stuff. 1.85 is the new law.
Projectionist #1: Have you read the instructions from Republic?
Projectionist #2: No. What are they gonna say, keep it focused?
Projectionist #1: The instructions say run it at 1.66 but we can do anything we want — we can show it at either 1.85, 1.37 or 1.66 — our choice.
Projectionist #2: But Dial M For Murder, which opens tomorrow, is being projected at 1.85. That’s what they’re requiring. They can’t go back and forth like this. Run this film at 1.37, run that one at 1.85, run the next one at 1.66. It’s too confusing. I don’t want to lose my job over this shit. We need to stick to a single standard.
Projectionist #1: Fuck it. Are we free men or slaves? What do those assholes know? The film delivers an image of 1.33. Who are they to say whack it down to 1.85? Fuck those guys.
Projectionist #2: Well, I’m a slave. A living slave.
My belief is that aspect ratios were fiddled with by projectionists all across the country from the mid ’50s to mid ’60s. Projectionists improvised — they did what they wanted because they wanted to. Some went with 1.85, some stuck to the old way because they liked it, some used 1.66 aperture plates, some showed Johnny Guitar at 1.37, some showed Johnny Guitar at 1.85, some showed Johnny Guitar at 1.66, some showed John Cassavetes‘ Shadows at 1.37 and many showed Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby at 1.66. And TV stations definitely went with 1.33 or 1.37, and so did VHS, laser discs (except for this many, many laser discs that went with 1.66 aspect ratios) and DVDs.
Only in yellowed trade paper reports and in the steel bear-trap minds of 1.85 fascists was 1.85 absolutely adhered to without exception in each and every theatre, all the time starting in April 1953.
Four days ago I noted that a press release about Warner Home Video’s upcoming release of a 3D Bluray of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M for Murder (streeting on 10.9) didn’t say if the aspect ratio will be “Furmanek-ed at 1.85, or if WHV will go with the 1.33 or 1.37 aspect ratio that audiences have been watching on TVs and DVDs and in revival houses for the last 55 years or so…I’m guessing it’ll be the former.”
Well, I rented a high-def version of Dial M on iTunes last night, and it’s 1.85, all right. Or 1.78. That pretty much makes it official, if you ask me — the Furmanek forces are calling the shots, and HE’s “boxy is beautiful” and “let the image breathe with more head space” philosophy has been discounted. And as for Robert Harris‘s suggestion that this superb 1954 murder thriller would probably look best at 1.66….naaaah!
Eff you very much, guys. I guess I’m what you might call a sore loser, huh? If there was such a thing as a French underground fighting the 1.85 fascists, I would join up today.
Santa Monica’s Aero, my favorite Los Angeles theatre by a mile, has completed a major digital upgrade and will soon be screening mostly DCPs instead of celluloid. (There will be, no doubt, occasions when they choose to show a 35mm or 70mm film through their Norelco AAII film projectors.) To celebrate this new technological enablement, the Aero will show off their digital hardware with a “17-Night Series of Classics and Digital Restorations” from 7.12 through 8.4.
Be advised that the Casablanca screening on Friday 7.20 will almost certainly be the darker, distinctly grainier 70th anniversary version that constituted the last Bluray release. Get used to this, suck it in — grain-monk theology has won over the corporates along with masking ’50s films with 1.85 prison-cell croppings. If I was Absolute Bluray Dictator I’d order that two versions of all restored classics — “grainmonk” and “moderately shiny” — be issued simultaneously along with “headspace” and”1.85 fascist” versions. Then there wouldn’t be any fights.
Grover Crisp‘s M.I.A. restoration of From Here To Eternity will play on 8.2. The high-def restoration was first screened in the fall of ’09 and then in Cannes in May 2010, but it’s never turned up on Bluray.
Five years ago I wrote the following: “The restored Aero Theatre — the westside flagship for the American Cinematheque — is a single-screen venue on an affluent, relatively quiet Santa Monica boulevard. Nice people run it and nice people — a mostly older crowd — are always there. An Italian ice store is just down the the street, an antique furniture store that Mary Steenburgen is a co-proprietor of sits next to it. The whole quiet-community atmosphere is like a Valium. The vibe at the Arclight or the Bridge or the Monica Plex on Second Street is fine, but the Aero feels like yesteryear.
“Last night’s experience was very much like seeing a movie on a quiet summer night in a small town in the ’60s or ’70s. The Aero is a remnant of the modest- sized, personably-managed theatres that you could find in every last small town in America before the plexing boom of the ’80s. On top of which the sound and projection standards at the Aero are superb, and they’re always showing good films there.”
Last night I was feeling so distraught about Criterion’s upcoming 1.85 fascist Bluray of Elia Kazan‘s On The Waterfront that I went on iTunes to buy the special edition 1.33 to 1 DVD version (the one that came out in 2001). So I bought it for $9.99 and…good God! It’s the 1.85 Bob Furmanek version!
It appears that Sony restoration honcho Grover Crisp and Sony Home Video are pre-emptively circulating the newbie in advance of the Criterion, perhaps to familiarize the public with a whacked-down Waterfront as a way of managing an end run around traditionalists like myself.
TCM has allegedly been screening the 1.85 version for several years but you know what I mean…the powers that be are trying to eliminate all traces of the good old boxy version. They can’t send out memory police to physically seize all existing copies of the 1.33 version so they’re focusing for now on iTunes. Pretty soon Crisp and Criterion and friends of Furmanek will be able to say “1.33 Waterfront…what’s that?”
I repeat: Crisp invited me to see the 1.33 version at a Sony screening room (I went with my son Dylan) sometime in the early aughts, and he was very proud and satisfied with it. But then Furmanek and the 1.85 fascists showed Crisp (or people close to Crisp) data about Columbia chief Harry Cohn mandating a 1.85 aspect ratio in all non-Scope Columbia films from April 1953 on, and Crisp capitulated.
But here’s the thing and I don’t mind admitting this, given my extreme distaste for the fascist mandate: director Elia Kazan shot his 1.85 version of On The Waterfront with skill and finesse and a nice sense of balance, and so it’s not that painful to watch. Most (roughly 80%) of the shots look “right” without a sense of vital or interesting information having been chopped out.
And yet (and this is IMPORTANT) the famous taxicab scene with Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger looks quite cramped and claustrophic; ditto that Hoboken bar scene between Brando and Eva Marie Saint. The faces are there and you’re getting what you need to understand the story and appreciate the mood, but you’re not being shown what looks classic and true.
The 1.33 version of On The Waterfront will always look better. It breathes with smoky, smoggy air and all kinds of beautiful headroom, and it shows you more of the Hoboken world of 1953 and ’54 than the 1.85 version does. It looks like life as it was lived and felt and understood at that time, and the 1.85 version look like Furmanek and his pallies are doing a not-unpleasant science experiment.
In the highly unlikely event that Criterion decides to issue its On The Waterfront Bluray with both aspect ratios (1.85 and 1.33), I wouldn’t hesitate for a second in watching the 1.33 version every time.
Bernardo Bertolucci‘s last film was The Dreamers (’03), and then he suffered a series of back surgeries that led to his being in a wheelchair…at age 72! And then he announced last year that his return film, Io e Te (Me and You), based on Niccolo Ammaniti‘s young-adult book about a 14-year-old boy “who hides from the world in his family’s basement, along with his even more troubled 25-year-old sister,” would be shot in 3D. Then he changed his mind about 3D, calling the idea “vulgarly commercial.”
The only lesson I can derive from Bertolucci’s wheelchair existence is that the older we get, the more spiritual we become. Everything is about the body and the senses and obvious hungers when you’re an infant, and then you start to gradually discover the inwardness and the centered-ness of things, and by the time you’re 20 or 22 or so (if you’re not a total Mitt Romney-like asshole, that is) you know that the spiritual is where it’s at. So if you’ve lost your legs at age 72, you at least have that to fall back on — you don’t need to walk to commune with the sublime and the infinite.
But it still sucks. Walking miles and miles is one of the greatest things you can do with your time when you’re not writing or fucking or eating great food and watching perfectly mastered films on Bluray that haven’t been aspect-ratio raped by Bob Furmanek and the 1.78 or 1.85 fascists.
Io e Te has its press screening at Cannes on Tuesday, 5.22, and its press conference on Wedneday, 5./23.