I remember going to the video store and seeing tacked to the wall a ridiculous little diagram that explained how much of the shark in Jaws and the T-Rex in Jurassic Park I was missing if I chose to rent my film in the standard, cropped, pan and scan version of most VHS tapes, rather than in the original aspect ratio that the director intended. I may have scoffed off the idea at the time, but little did I realize that not so many years later I would become as much of a hard-liner about OAR's as anyone else.
Sadly, the issue of whether to watch a film cropped or the way it was shot is not as simple as that, as our link of the day, David Bordwell's blog entry Godard comes in many shapes and sizes, makes clear. Bordwell, for anyone not aware, is one of the most respected scholars of film in the world. The conventional way most film students, if not the general public at large, view classical Hollywood cinema is through Bordwell, Kristen Thompson, and Janet Steiger's seminal book The Classical Hollywood Cinema, supplimented by Bordwell and Thompson's Film Art: An Introduction and Film History: An Introduction.
Scholarly but accessible, and refreshingly based in strict observational and descriptive criticism, Bordwell's writing in general and his blog specifically (found here) provide vital ways of seeing, understanding, and, for a critic, writing about cinema. For this particular entry, Bordwell focuses on disputes over correct framing of a captured image in Godard's films, and the finnicky but very important issue of the way a film was captured by the camera and the intention of the director and cameraman for how that image should be projected in a theater or shown on home video. Bordwell gets into a specific and fascinating, albeit technical, discussion about Godard's films and how even minute changing of a film's aspect ratios can upset the focus, balance, and meaning of an image's composition.