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criterion paths of glory cropped?

Old 05-14-11, 01:07 AM
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criterion paths of glory cropped?

looking at the screen grabs of the full frame dvd vs. 1.66 criterion, at http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDRev...thsofglory.htm

isn't a lot of the impact of the photography lessened by the cropping? it seems they are cutting a 1.66 image out of the 1.33 picture. for a movie with some of the best photography ever, why did they do this?

it says the Leon Vitali approved this change, however, Kubrick was a great photographer himself, why would he want his movie released like this, when clearly the 1.33 composition looks way better and more striking.
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Old 05-14-11, 01:12 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

they said it was released in theaters that way and that kubrick only approved 1.33 on home video since widescreen TV's didnt exist back then. however you can't deny, the 1.33 looks way better, the 1.66 still looks cut, like reverse pan and scan
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Old 05-14-11, 01:47 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

...why didn't you just edit that bit of info into your op?

Also...I'm going to have to disagree, the OAR looks better leaving out useless information in the frame. Look carefully at the screen grabs for comparison at dvdbeaver and other sites I prefer the OAR of the 1.66:1. I respect SK's decision for it. It's what he wanted, so that's what we'll have...and it's fucking SK...I'm sure he had a damn good reason for it as his OAR.
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Old 05-14-11, 01:49 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

just looked it up seems this whole thing is a can of worms with long history. basically most of his blu-ray releases are butchered/cropped. in an interview with DVDtalk in 2003 leon vitali said, regarding kubrick's later movies:

"Stanley had marks on the camera lens so he could see where the 1.85 lines. He composed his shots for 1.66, which is the full screen, but he wouldn't be hurt by going to 1.85 if he had to do it."

what a headache
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Old 05-14-11, 01:52 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Not exactly a headache if you're prepared for AR switching in various formats for presentation. He was prepared. Made it easier in the end.
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Old 05-14-11, 02:12 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

but still as an artist, if one is his preference then thats the one I want to see, not the one he settled for due to theaters' limitations, or made 1.85 so joe 6 pack can get his widescreen TV filled (reverse pan and scan debate). plus if you compare the stills the compositions look way better

in early 2000s WB brought the first DVD box set which released them all in the way he preferred:

"A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon were shot and released in most theaters in the matted 1.66 : 1 widescreen ratio, and The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut were shot open-matted (or full-frame) and framed for a theatrical release in the American standard ratio of 1.85 : 1.

However, Kubrick preferred on all these films that they be transferred to home video fullscreen (a ratio of about 1.37 : 1). Had he remained alive to see the rising popularity of widescreen and high-definition TVs, he may have eventually changed his mind about these films."

Somewhere along the line WB changed their stance... gee I wonder why ($$$$). They should have all given us both versions. us purists who want the one Kubrick preferred, will only be able to have 2001, Dr Strangelove, and Clockwork Orange. the rest we have to settle on the crappy dvds from 2000
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Old 05-14-11, 09:03 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Looking at those screen shots most of them look better in the 1.66:1 ratio. Some of them are a bit too tight (hair being cut out of the pics), but the others look MUCH better with the tigher framing.

I might have wanted the ones with the hair/top of the head cut off to be re-framed a tad higher (scrolled up just a bit), but other than that I like the new framing. I don't have the blu ray on this one, but I'll have to play with the framing of the DVD and zoom in and scroll to see how the framing looks on my HDTV.
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Old 05-14-11, 09:42 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Clover, there is no can of worms and this isn't exclusive to Kubrick.

A frame of 35mm film is "squarish". 99% of all feature films are shot using 35mm film, including Paths Of Glory. If the film is shot with no mattes for the top and bottom of the frame in-camera, then the entire negative image area is exposed. That top and bottom image area is cropped when projected in the theater. This is a very general explanation as there are lots of other processes, but this one (35mm shooting with spherical lenses) is the most common. This has been the case since the mid-50's or so.
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Old 05-16-11, 10:51 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Kubrick shot his movies the same way almost every other filmmaker shooting for "flat" (no anamorphic lens) projection does. A frame of 35mm film has a negative aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Movies intended for flat projection are shot full-frame and then matted during projection to either 1.85:1 (North American standard) or sometimes 1.66:1 (an old European standard).

Storyboards for The Shining have notes on them that explicitly say the movie is to be composed for 1.85:1. This is the OAR Kubrick chose for that movie.

Back in the Laserdisc days, Kubrick had most of his films transferred in "full frame" 4:3 format rather than letterbox because he was a black bar hater. It's really as simple and unfortunate as that. Had he lived a few years longer to see the transition to 16:9 HDTV, he may have come around on the issue. William Friedkin also used to be a big black bar hater who wanted all of his movies transferred full frame, but eventually changed his tune.

That does not mean that 4:3 was ever the "OAR" for these movies. The open matte transfers really screw up Dr. Strangelove (which fluctuates in aspect ratio because some scenes were shot with hard mattes over the camera gate) and The Shining (which exposes helicopter rotors and a shadow in the opening sequence that wouldn't have been visible at the proper matted ratio).

Paths of Glory was made before the home video revolution. The movie was made for theatrical projection. Kubrick composed it for the aspect ratio that it would have been projected at, not for TV.
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Old 05-16-11, 11:13 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
plus if you compare the stills the compositions look way better
No offense, but this is a terribly ignorant argument. We're talking about a narrative film, not a series of still photos. The object of the cinematography is not necessarily to create some arbitrary aesthetic appeal to 'some guy on the internet'. There are all sorts of storytelling reasons for shot composition to be designed in all sorts of ways. If the "feel" of the framing seems "wrong", that's often the product of an intentional effort. In other words, for it to feel "right" might actually be the last thing the filmmakers want! This isn't exactly a light and fluffy 'feel-good' movie, BTW.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:13 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

As others have posted, soft-matting the film frame for a theatrical screening, then opening up the matting for a 4:3 home video version is a terribly common occurrence throughout the history of widescreen cinema. Nearly every 1.66:1 or 1.85:1 film had some amount of open-matting in the 4:3 version. It still goes on today, where films shot on Super35 or digital cameras for 2.35:1 presentation are open-matted to 1.78:1 for home video.

See this on how film is transferred to video:
http://www.modeemi.fi/~leopold/AV/FilmToVideo/

Also, I consider OAR to be the original aspect ratio the film was shown in. Thus, the OAR for all of his films are widescreen, since they were shown in theaters first. There are times when a director may later change the aspect ratio to a "preferred" one (see Criterion edition of Robocop), but that's not the OAR.

Finally, in comparing the Paths of Glory shots, I personally prefer the WS crops, and think they're more aesthetically pleasing. However, deciding which aspect ratio is "better" is a purely subjective matter, and doesn't indicate either way which is the one the film was originally intended for.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:38 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
Storyboards for The Shining have notes on them that explicitly say the movie is to be composed for 1.85:1. This is the OAR Kubrick chose for that movie.

Back in the Laserdisc days, Kubrick had most of his films transferred in "full frame" 4:3 format rather than letterbox because he was a black bar hater. It's really as simple and unfortunate as that. Had he lived a few years longer to see the transition to 16:9 HDTV, he may have come around on the issue. William Friedkin also used to be a big black bar hater who wanted all of his movies transferred full frame, but eventually changed his tune.

That does not mean that 4:3 was ever the "OAR" for these movies. The open matte transfers really screw up Dr. Strangelove (which fluctuates in aspect ratio because some scenes were shot with hard mattes over the camera gate) and The Shining (which exposes helicopter rotors and a shadow in the opening sequence that wouldn't have been visible at the proper matted ratio).

Paths of Glory was made before the home video revolution. The movie was made for theatrical projection. Kubrick composed it for the aspect ratio that it would have been projected at, not for TV.
how come Leon Vitalli said this then (coincidentally in an interview with this site!):

"Q: If full frame was so important why didn't Kubrick release them theatrically that way?

A: After Barry Lyndon, more and more theaters were showing films 1.85 or in Cinemascope even if it wasn't shot that way. He had no control. He couldn't go around every cinema and say "You show this film in 1.66" as you could with Clockwork Orange, because then the projectors had 1.66 mask. With multi-plexes things are different and so they only show a film in 1.85 or in 2.21, the Cinemascope. You know? You cannot put a mask in 1.66 as it should be for Clockwork Orange. You can't put a 1.77 in as it should be for Barry Lyndon and that's what Stanley understood with The Shining onwards. He realized that his films we're going to be shown in 1.85 whether he liked it or not. You can't tell all the theaters now how to show your movies. They say it's 1.85, that's it. Stanley realized that masking for 1.85 would far outweigh having 1.66 projected at 1.85. We did a re-release of Clockwork in the U.K. and it's 1.66. It's composed for 1.66. It's shot in 1.66, and the whole shebang. Well, you know, they had to screen it in 1.85. I can't tell you how much it hurt that film.

That must have been awful.

It's horrible. It's horrible. It's heartbreaking. I mean, it's heartbreaking. You realize that when we got to The Shining, this was after the release of Barry Lyndon, this is how it was all being done. He realized that the best thing he could do is to at least do it so that he understood that beside the 1.85 frame line, they were going to have the composition that he would want you to see. From The Shining and Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley had marks on the camera lens so he could see where the 1.85 lines. He composed his shots for 1.66, which is the full screen, but he wouldn't be hurt by going to 1.85 if he had to do it."

so regarding barry lyndon through eyes wide shut, 1.66 is how they are meant to look, that was his preference, otherwise he would have composed the whole thing only as 1.85 ... 1.85 was only done by the limitation of the theater so they wouldn't have a disaster like they had where clockwork orange was butchered by theaters. BUT IMO at least they could have given us both choices.

then regarding paths of glory, so it was filmed to be screened in 1.66, not full frame? then how come paths of glory looks so much better full frame? while it is subjective, if you ask any photography professor, they would say the full frame one is better, more balanced photography, you get more of his philosophy in framing everything at a very symmetrical distance

PS now THE KILLING is coming on criterion and guess what that is 1.66 too, will that be cropping them again?
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Old 05-16-11, 05:44 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

where are the defenders of Kubrick's PREFERENCE?

Originally Posted by Doctorossi View Post
No offense, but this is a terribly ignorant argument. We're talking about a narrative film, not a series of still photos. The object of the cinematography is not necessarily to create some arbitrary aesthetic appeal to 'some guy on the internet'. There are all sorts of storytelling reasons for shot composition to be designed in all sorts of ways. If the "feel" of the framing seems "wrong", that's often the product of an intentional effort. In other words, for it to feel "right" might actually be the last thing the filmmakers want! This isn't exactly a light and fluffy 'feel-good' movie, BTW.
Not at all, Kubrick was a photographer, he started out as one, and is probably the best photographer, in film history. I want to see what he preferred.
it is just speculation saying that he would have wanted them released as 1.85 on blu-ray, then how come he composed them all as 1.66, and kept 1.85 as protection.... if he wanted 1.85, he would have composed them only for 1.85 all along. He wouldn't have cared about 1.66... I believe they said Europe showed them as 1.66, so both if versions are theatrically legitimate, why do we conveniently only get the version to fill the whole widescreen? (it is an economic decision no doubt).
Furthermore, the composition/photography is paramount, to the impact of his movies, I will post some screen shots soon as proof of why these look way better.

Last edited by CloverClover; 05-16-11 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:48 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by Strevlac View Post
Clover, there is no can of worms and this isn't exclusive to Kubrick.

A frame of 35mm film is "squarish". 99% of all feature films are shot using 35mm film, including Paths Of Glory. If the film is shot with no mattes for the top and bottom of the frame in-camera, then the entire negative image area is exposed. That top and bottom image area is cropped when projected in the theater. This is a very general explanation as there are lots of other processes, but this one (35mm shooting with spherical lenses) is the most common. This has been the case since the mid-50's or so.
I see, so they are all filmed as squares and cropped to fit 1.85/1.66 for screening in theaters. that means they had options for the future, like snake said. but 1.66. That is the image Kubrick himself preferred, as you will see in the interview that Leon Vitalli himself said this in that interview above. he preferred 1.66 but chose 1.85 out of having no choice. he could live with either of them, and considered both legitimate displays of his movie, but there can only be one winner.

I still believe it is a complicated issue. I know you are all happy to have these movies on blu-ray, which stretch your whole screen, but I think they are much better the way they were meant to be seen, where the imagery is most powerful and distinct.

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Old 05-16-11, 07:34 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

looks like my instinct was correct, and I won this argument-- though I appreciate the argument that everyone should have the movie how it was originally screened in theaters, I prefer what Kubrick, the artist preferred. here is yet another direct quote, from Leon Vitalli:

11/ Why are Some Kubrick films only available in the "full frame" aspect ratio on VHS video, DVD and Laserdisc?

"The thing about Stanley, he was a photographer that's how he started. He had a still photographer's eye. So when he composed a picture through the camera, he was setting up for what he saw through the camera - the full picture. That was very important to him. It really was. It was an instinct that never ever left him. [...] He did not like 1.85:1. You lose 27% of the picture, Stanley was a purist. This was one of the ways it was manifested."

Then I wonder why Leon Vitalli approved criterion cropping them to 1.66 and WB to 1.85 ... probably again it was a financial decision... no one wants 'full frame' these days. and they can use the excuse that these movies were screened theatrically this way. I for one will only use the DVDs because that is Kubrick's true vision and preference.
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Old 05-16-11, 08:27 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
how come Leon Vitalli said this then (coincidentally in an interview with this site!):

"From The Shining and Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley had marks on the camera lens so he could see where the 1.85 lines. He composed his shots for 1.66, which is the full screen, but he wouldn't be hurt by going to 1.85 if he had to do it."
You realize this disproves your OP, right? He composed Paths of Glory for 1.66:1, and the Blu-ray is in 1.66:1. So it's the correct aspect ratio.

The difference between 1.66:1 and 1.85:1 is one of countries/regions: USA typically matted to 1.85:1, while Europe typically matted to 1.66:1. This meant that when films made in one region were screened in the other, they may have been matted incorrectly. This could've been due to ignorance of US projectionists of what the correct aspect ratio was, or they simply didn't have 1.66:1 mattes for many projectors. For example, with Barry Lyndon, Kubrick actually sent the correct mattes (1.66:1) with the prints of the film to each theater in the US:
http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/faq/#n1s11
"Barry Lyndon," was released theatrically in 1.66:1, even in the U.S. since Kubrick insisted on 1.66 hard mattes being sent to the various theatres showing the film (1.85 is the common "flat" widescreen ratio in the U.S.).
However, in the case of the Shining, there are storyboards from Kubrick's Archive, and at least one of them explicitly mentions a 1.85:1 aspect ratio:
DSC00005 Storyboard from The Shining, Kubrick Archive

Note the text on the storyboard, specifically:
THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1-1:85
Obviously you compose for that
but protect the full 1-1:33 area.
Note the line I've bolded.

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
then regarding paths of glory, so it was filmed to be screened in 1.66, not full frame? then how come paths of glory looks so much better full frame?
It doesn't. It looks better in 1.66:1

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
while it is subjective, if you ask any photography professor, they would say the full frame one is better, more balanced photography, you get more of his philosophy in framing everything at a very symmetrical distance
Actually, from a photography angle, most would say that 1.33:1 is a bad aspect ratio to shoot in. This is why most photography is shot at 6x4 (1.5:1) or 5x3 (1.66:1). In fact, I read once that Kubrick preferred 1.66:1 specifically because it matched the aspect ratio of his photography.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-ku...6.photogallery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley...k#Aspect_ratio
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Old 05-17-11, 01:06 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
how come Leon Vitalli said this then (coincidentally in an interview with this site!):
Unfortunately, Leon Vitali is not a reliable source of information about technical matters or about Stanley Kubrick's wishes. Back in 2001, Vitali gave an interview with DVDFile to promote Warner's DVD editions of Kubrick's films. Here's an archive version:

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

In that old interview, Vitali defended the choice of 4:3 DVD transfers for movies like The Shining and Full Metal Jacket that today he says should be 1.66:1. He's contradicted himself about what Kubrick's intentions were for the aspect ratios of these movies.

At the time, he was also asked why Clockwork Orange was issued on DVD in a non-anamorphic letterbox 1.66:1 transfer, even though an anamorphically enhanced transfer at the same aspect ratio would have provided better detail and clarity. He stated that anamorphic enhancement "alters perception" of the movie and that Stanley Kubrick never wanted his movies to be presented on DVD with anamorphic enhancement. It's very clear that Vitali had no idea what anamorphic enhancement even was. He seemed to think that it somehow equates to changing the camera lens years after the movie was shot and completed. This is complete gibberish.

Last edited by Josh Z; 05-26-11 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 05-17-11, 01:20 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

There have been arguments about Kubrick's framing preference for years.

Here is the deal:

Stanley Kubrick shot 2001 at 2.35:1 widescreen and always intended to be seen that way. Later it was broadcast on the BBC and against his wishes, pan & scanned (maybe even cropped) to 1.33:1 standard television. He was livid and vowed never to have any of his films altered in that aspect agin.

Thus, he began shooting with a 1.33:1 negative aspect ratio with the intention of 1.85:1 for US theaters and 1.66:1 for European theaters. Most US theaters had moved on to newer equipment that could not properly handle a 1.66:1 projection.

This way, when his films were transferred to home video, he would not lose the composition of his vision nor would it be severly compromised like 2001. The idea of letterboxing or presenting a film in the widescreen format was rarely a thought on VHS and only happened on the "enthusiast" Laserdisc format. It was not until DVD that widescreen became acceptable and at that point, Kubrick's original intentions could be seen on home video.

The issue is that it took so long for this to happen that many people mistakenly believe that Kubrick preferred 1.33:1 open-matte when it was actually his way of still being able to control his vision after completing the project.

There are many cases in Hollywood of what is long to be believed the truth, turns out to be myth. Most people still just want to believe the fairytale because they have lived with it so long that the reality just doesn't feel right.
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Old 05-17-11, 01:24 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

So to put it as one whole answer for the OP:

Criterion didn't fuck up w/ the transfer.

IMO:
It looks gorgeous as is. You open up that frame you have a lot of nothing. Everything was put in the framing for a reason. All essential detail is there for the CC BD. Now let's just close this thread.
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Old 05-17-11, 01:43 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by emachine12 View Post
There have been arguments about Kubrick's framing preference for years.

Here is the deal:

Stanley Kubrick shot 2001 at 2.35:1 widescreen and always intended to be seen that way. Later it was broadcast on the BBC and against his wishes, pan & scanned (maybe even cropped) to 1.33:1 standard television. He was livid and vowed never to have any of his films altered in that aspect agin.

Thus, he began shooting with a 1.33:1 negative aspect ratio with the intention of 1.85:1 for US theaters and 1.66:1 for European theaters. Most US theaters had moved on to newer equipment that could not properly handle a 1.66:1 projection.

This way, when his films were transferred to home video, he would not lose the composition of his vision nor would it be severly compromised like 2001. The idea of letterboxing or presenting a film in the widescreen format was rarely a thought on VHS and only happened on the "enthusiast" Laserdisc format. It was not until DVD that widescreen became acceptable and at that point, Kubrick's original intentions could be seen on home video.

The issue is that it took so long for this to happen that many people mistakenly believe that Kubrick preferred 1.33:1 open-matte when it was actually his way of still being able to control his vision after completing the project.

There are many cases in Hollywood of what is long to be believed the truth, turns out to be myth. Most people still just want to believe the fairytale because they have lived with it so long that the reality just doesn't feel right.
The other thing to note about this is that Kubrick died right around the time 16X9 TVs were starting to become more prominent. Had he lived long enough to see them become the norm instead of the exception to the rule, he most likely would have personally signed off on widescreen home video masters, as his intended ratios would finally be able to be presented at home properly.

Of course that's just conjecture, but it does make sense.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:01 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by emachine12 View Post
Stanley Kubrick shot 2001 at 2.35:1 widescreen and always intended to be seen that way.
It was 2.20:1 actually. '2001' was shot on 65mm film.
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Old 05-17-11, 05:57 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
It was 2.20:1 actually. '2001' was shot on 65mm film.
Thanks for the correction.
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Old 05-18-11, 04:09 PM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by CloverClover View Post
looks like my instinct was correct, and I won this argument-- though I appreciate the argument that everyone should have the movie how it was originally screened in theaters, I prefer what Kubrick, the artist preferred.
Unfortunately, you will never know for sure what aspect ratio Kubrick preferred for you to see his films presented in on your particular TV in your home. The only thing we can say with complete certainty is that Kubrick framed his films originally knowing what aspect ratio they would be presented at in theaters, so the theatrical ratio undoubtedly conforms to a ratio for which Kubrick consciously shot. Whether he always protected for other possible presentation ratios or somehow personally preferred a certain ratio different from that which he knew a film would be presented in the theaters is, at best, educated conjecture but is not definitive by any means.

here is yet another direct quote, from Leon Vitalli:
His quotes do not give you the information you need to meet your above stated standard. They only give you Vitalli's memory of what he perceived Kubrick's preferred framing to be. Too many variables there to trust his word, particularly given the contradictory quotes presented in this thread.
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Old 05-19-11, 05:23 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Also, I consider OAR to be the original aspect ratio the film was shown in. Thus, the OAR for all of his films are widescreen, since they were shown in theaters first. There are times when a director may later change the aspect ratio to a "preferred" one (see Criterion edition of Robocop), but that's not the OAR.
Actually I've heard that Robocop was shown in 1.66:1 in Europe, although perhaps not at all European screenings.
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Old 05-19-11, 06:42 AM
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Re: criterion paths of glory cropped?

Originally Posted by Dan Average View Post
Actually I've heard that Robocop was shown in 1.66:1 in Europe, although perhaps not at all European screenings.
That's possible, although that may not have been intentional (see above about US vs European screenings). However, it premiered in the US first at 1.85:1, so that's the OAR.
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