Eros Plus Massacre 2:35:1
Marketa Lazarova 2:35:1
Pierrot Le Fou 2:35:1
Last Year at Marienbad 2:35:1
Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? 1.85:1
Give me a frigging break with these wild generalizations. Yawn.
Green Gold (Starci na chmelu) 1964, 2.55:1
Whatever one thinks of Guernica, I think that it could be agreed upon that the framing ratio of that painting has nothing to do with the success of the work, and the same could be said for waterlillies. The Last Supper on the other hand is composed completely around the size of the frame, or maybe the frame was designed around the composition, but I find it to be too distant for my own personal taste.
Now, in the hands of a master, anything is possible. My favorite film, RAN, was shot in 1.85:1 Andrei Rublev is in a very widescreen, and in the hands of a true master, great things can be done with the ratio. That being said, there are some things that are just harder to do in the very wide screen ratios, and I think that the shots from Pierrot Le Fou, Eros Plus Massacre, and Green Gold are good examples of that-Ben-Hur as well, minus the chariot sequence.
It is somewhat misleading to use Napoleon as an example. Over 90% of the film was shot in 1.33:1, and the 4:1 ratio was only used for the last 20 minutes or so, when we are outdoors and Napoleon is surveying and commanding his army-situations in which a super-widescreen frame is very beneficial.
Maybe I approached it the wrong way, but what I am trying to do here is have a discussion of the benefits and defects of the different ratios. I think that the shots from Pierrot Le Fou and Green Gold are good examples of the difficulty of shooting in widescreen. I think that widescreen framing creates a necessity of spreading everything in the composition out, and thus creates a flatter look to the composition. It is very hard to create circular compositions in wide screen, while a nearly square frame is much more conducive to that kind of framing. There is also less triangular composition that can be done in widescreen because the frame is so stretched.
Also, in some of those screenshots above, the films labelled as 2.35:1 all have different measurements, and so either they have been distorted or cropped. If it is distorted, than it will look good no matter how much it is distorted because the original composition was solid(unless you distort it so much that people no longer resemble themselves). It is easier to crop a single picture into that photo’s own perfect frame, but it is much harder when you have to shoot an entire film’s worth of photos and sequences in the same frame. Perhaps the best solution is to simply shoot different scenes in different ratios.
I’d rather have a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the different framing ratios than just post pictures without words. There are reasons why some shots are successful, in one particular frame, but not as successful in another ratio.
Somewhere in his writings, Eisenstein suggested the use of “dynamic framing,” meaning changing the aspect ratio of the shots as the film went on, depending on the needs of an individual scene or dramatic situation. It sounds highly impractical but imagine the implications.
One could shoot a scene where the protagonist is in prison in 1.33 and then expand the screen when he’s released to 1.85. It would be taking the NAPOLEON to the nth degree, for the entire length of the movie.
Yes, I’ve had that very same inclination before. I think that it could be done nowadays by digitally cropping and then printing.
Also, square format of the films are not the only ones . Many movies are presented in circle formats (shoot using the fish-eye lenses).
Late Night Talks with Mother
Bezruc, I don’t know what movies you are watching, but very few films are sot with fish eye lenses.
Bezruc, the only film I have ever seen “in a circle format” is Late Night Talks With Mother, and even that film is not entirely shot using the fish eye lens, so I would argue that the film is pressented in 4:3 with a circle insidie throughtout the shots in which the fish eye lens is used, which is through a lot of the film but not in its entirety.
On the topic of 4:3 in general, I completelly agree that a lot of the best looking films are 4:3 or some sort of variant on that aspect ratio. Yes, we all know that there are also great looking films shot on widescreen, but in these days of widescreen abuse, where the only tv format you can buy is widescreen, same with laptops, and even the simpsons are being made in widescreen now, it is only natural that we will complain about widescreen and reclaim 4:3.
The new widescreen fashion is so ridiculous that my new camera, Canon XLH1A, which i got to replace my broken XL1s, only films HiDef on widescreen, so if you want to film 4:3, which is the format I rather film on, you are screwed, you can only do so in standard quality.
There is a very simple reason why I think 4:3 looks better. I realized when I first started making films and I shot one of my short films in widescreen (for the first time ever). I found that it looked so profesional, I was really glad I could produce something that looked so good with such small means. But I also realized that if I shot on widescreen, everything looked profesional, no matter what i pointed the camera at, it would look good right away. Widescreen is too lazy. It requires no effort or skill. Of course, if you have the skill you will make something much better than those with little or no skill, even on widescreen. But on 4:3 you actually have to work a bit harder and have to be more skillful in order to get aesthetically pleasing shots.
It is very easy to find eye pleasing compositions on 2:35:1. Too easy.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the best looking films were all shot in 4:3, but i do think that when shot in a square format, they had to put more effort when deciding what to film and often it shows in the final product. It is easy to become lazy and careless when everything you point the camera at looks good.
To give an example using Godard, althought Pierrot le Fou is a great looking film, compare it with Vivre Sa Vie or A Married Woman and it will quickly become obvious that the shots in Pierrot are less stricking.
Whatever you think about 4:3 and widescreen, in these times when widescreen is being imposed on everyone (it wouldnt be the first time a friend with a widescreen tv forces me to watch a 4:3 film stretched because they don’t want to have to see the unpleasing black bars on the sides or just becuase they dont know how to set it to the right format or cant be bothered! I even watched a fat Gallo in Buffalo 66 once! and I dont have to argue that black bands on the sides are a lot more annoying than above and below ever were!) anyway, as i was saying… in these days when widescreen is being imposed on everyone, we should all rebel against it, filmmakers should shoot all their films in 4:3 unless there is a good reason to do otherwise (just the way it always was until the last decade or so) and everyone else should demand 4:3 Tv sets when purchasing new ones. Wouldn’t you all agree that the black bands on a 4:3 Tv are aesthetically pleasing why the ones on a widescreen Tv are just annoying?
Only last week i visited some friends who owned a ridiculously big widescreen tv and we watched Laurel & Hardy, they wanted to watch it stretched so as not to see the bands on the sides (I can only imagine how fat Hardy would have been!), I insisted that we couldn’t watch it stretched (by the way, these people I’m talking about are all filmmakers!!! What the hell!!!!! if filmmakers watch L&H or Gallo stretched how can we expect Joe Schmuck over there to bother watching our films in the correct format? Sad days for cinema),we finally changed the Tv to the correct aspect ratio, guess what? The bands on the sides were pink. PINK!!!!!!! WTF!!!!
In fact, the best looking films are scope black and whites.
Widescreen pictures (around 16:9) are being closer to the way the human eye views the world around us.
@Bezruc: Although widescreen is certainly closer to the field of human vision that the Academy format, the total field of view for most people is actually about 180 degrees. Even from a binocular POV, it’s about 140 degrees.
If filmmakers wanted to represent the human eye’s field, that would probably represent a Cinerama-style screen for most movies!
FRANK: Exactly, that’s why everything from 1.88 – 2.95:1 is more natural, aesthetical then 1.33:1.
i haven’t read the bouleau book but this is a classic
“le nombre d’or”
matila c. ghyka
BEZRUC: ‘Natural’ is not the same thing as ‘Aesthetical’ – they are often opposed in fact. Approximating natural human vision as accurately as possible is not necessarily the ideal of beauty – otherwise nobody would find beauty in monochrome images, which are obviously artificial.
It would be interesting to discuss the full frame v widescreen debate with reference to Stanley Kubrick. His later films, such as Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, were shot full frame, but intended to be cropped in projection and seen wide in cinemas. Until recently DVDs of these films were full frame (as were TV broadcasts of the films before widescreen TVs became widespread). Now they’ve been re-released wide. So the varying editions of these films provide unusual opportunities to compare full frame to widescreen without having to compare different films.
Personally, I would still prefer to project the 1.33:1 versions anyday.
Birdpaula: Thanks for the reference.Like other good books on aesthetics, Le Nombre d’or is expensive — $94 used on Amazon.com — but I’ll try finding it in a library and freshen up my francais.
“The new widescreen fashion is so ridiculous that my new camera, Canon XLH1A, which i got to replace my broken XL1s, only films HiDef on widescreen, so if you want to film 4:3, which is the format I rather film on, you are screwed, you can only do so in standard quality.”
Canon cannot make a camera that shoots 4:3 HD video because there is no 4:3 HD video format to store it in. All HD video is 16:9.
IOSU: If you are looking for an HD camera that shoots 3:2 HD video, get a Pentax K-7 (1536×1024).
I believe that Kubrick composed his later films for full screen, but so that the heads wouldn’t be chopped off when they cropped it for the theater.
want to see if this works.. the exclamation point thing.