Movies change over time. In some ways it’s neat to go back and look at how that’s happened.
As far as aspect ratios, it’s not. Not for me. The different shapes and sizes of movies change so much so often. It brings out my OCD and makes me nuts.
Aspect ratios are expressed length:height of the picture you see on the screen. Modernly, we have either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 at the movie theaters. Everything’s widescreen today, but the latter is known as “anamorphic.” The picture is more than twice as long as it is tall. In the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, this was known as CinemaScope. Example: Ben-Hur. Before and during that time, most movies were 1.33:1, which is a squarish, full screen TV size of the past. Oh but it gets more radical. There’s 2.75:1. Panavision.
Is all this confusing? Simply put, it looks terrible on a TV today if it’s not 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. If those black bars on the sides or too and bottom distract you, you can stretch the picture to fit the screen, which means the characters look too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, and blah blah blah. Given how many movies I’ve watched in god knows how many formats, I’m sick of the black bars and stretching. Why do we have to watch movies with black bars? Movies like Napoléon bear as much as a 4:1 aspect ratio. Four times as long as it is tall. How the hell do you watch that on a modern TV and expect to be able to see the characters, when the black bars are bigger than the actual picture, or the characters look squeezed anorexically to fit your screen?
And in Europe, the standard aspect ratio is 1:67. That differs not much from the American standard 1:85, but it’s still a considerable difference.
Am I just nuts? Or does someone else on this planet see a problem with how movies have changed? Should all movies just be projected onto walls or projection screens, rather than viewed on TVs, so to avoid the need for black bars and stretching? Should I give myself a more theatrical viewing by covering the black bars with red velvet curtains?
What’s your take on this madness (and yes I am talking about the vastly different aspect ratios throughout movie history, not my own OCD)? Leave me a comment.