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Letterboxed Video

35mm "Academy" Films
Something's Fishy With
The Old Man and the Sea

Conventional widescreen 35mm films are generally composed to accomodate aspect ratios varying from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1, the difference being that the "narrower" ratios use more of the vertical area on the film.

Old Transfer
Letterbox Version

As seen in the film titles, the additional side information is pretty inconsequential. In the 1.85:1 letterbox version, the titles appear to be confined in a claustrophobic frame. A transfer at 1.66:1 would probably have been a better choice.

Old Transfer
Letterbox Transfer

Other than producing a somewhat smaller image, there isn't a lot that the letterboxed version provides that isn't in the older transfer. The decision to letterbox at 1.85:1 may not have created an unwatchable film, but at 1.66:1 we'd get to use a few more lines of resolution.


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Martin Hart, Curator