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68 of 101 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are the DVD releases cropped inappropriately? (original title of review: Beware - False Advertising - Video is Cropped), February 16, 2009
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This review is from: The Mel Brooks Collection (Blazing Saddles / Young Frankenstein / Silent Movie / Robin Hood: Men in Tights / To Be or Not to Be / History of the World, Part 1 / The Twelve Chairs / High Anxiety) (DVD)
DISCLAIMER: Other than changing the title of this review, I am leaving the text exactly as written in the original publication. However, I must now preface the original review with the following disclaimer: I did check all the DVDs in this box against my old VHS tapes, and the results are exactly as stated below. However, it appears likely that my conclusions may be wrong. For an interesting and informative discussion on different ways movies may be cropped for theatrical, VHS, and DVD releases, read my original review, but also read the comments which follow it. - D.Auer, original reviewer, 11/9/12. ORIGINAL REVIEW FOLLOWS:

Fox should be ashamed of what it has done to these movies! All eight of these movies are presented as being "wide screen". However, for most of them this is achieved by removing the top and bottom of the old full screen image.

I compared all eight of these DVDs to the VHS releases, and found that five of the movies have been cropped to make them appear "widescreen". The VHS formats are in a 16 x 12 ratio (the proportaions of the old-fashioned standard US TV screen). Fox has removed the top eighth and bottom eighth of each movie to make them fill the new 16 x 9 ratio widescreen TVs. The following five movies in this set have been cropped: Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, Robin Hood. The DVDs in this set present only 3/4 of the image that was shown on the old VHS releases.
The other three (Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, History of the World, Part 1) appear to be true wide-screen releases. The DVDs show the full picture from the VHS releases, but wider.

When will studios understand that what most buyers want is the full image of the original movie, regardless of its proportions? Cutting part of the image to make it appear to fit your TV screen is butchering the original product. Please do not promote this practice with the purchase of this set; wait for a proper release.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 26, 2009 3:23:28 PM PDT
Blade Boy says:
This is how almost all 1.85 movies are shot. They are shot 1.37 then matted to 1.85 for theatrical presentation. 1.85 is the proper presentation of these films, and reflects the framing that Mel Brooks wanted.

VHS releases of such movies just remove the matte, and reveal more of the image on the top and bottom and slightly less on the sides.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2009 10:03:44 PM PST
Wayne says:
The parts that show up on the top and bottom are not very crucial. Often, they end up with strange artifacts because when the scenes are reviewed, it's the wide screen matted part that gets the attention, since that's what the audience sees at the theater. It's the VHS customers who get "extra" that's mostly just filler. The advantage is that the studios don't have to "pan and scan" the wide screen version to get it to TV (back in the pre-HD days) or to VHS tapes when they made them. So the customer loses nothing. Nothing gets cut off on the left or the right. But the customer gets to see more of the floor and the sky.

With the wide screen version, the viewer is not distracted with things that were never meant to be there in the first place. Yes, some things are "missing" just as a person's body is missing when there's a close up of the person's face in any movie. But if those parts are left out, you should not miss them.

Posted on May 16, 2010 2:53:59 AM PDT
FunnyGuyDC says:
Blade Boy...

You MAY be right, but you MAY be wrong. Yes, it is true about the way many films are shot with extra footage on the top and bottom, and then matted for theatrical presentation. However, when they are shot that way, the parts on the top and bottom that are lopped off, are not INTENDED to be seen...EVER. At least, not by an audience. Often times, they have things in the shots such as markers, equipment and the like. They are used as an over-scan, and are never shown on TV, VHS, DVD, etc...

When a movie would be matted for VHS, or TV in the traditional 4:3 format of standard-def television, those original over-scans were not what was used. Instead, the SIDES were lopped off of the original matted widescreen presentation to fit on your old TV. They called it pan-and-scan, because they often had to artificially pan the image from side to side to highlight different parts of the movie that were not being seen, because it was edited for aspect ratio.

If the OP claims that he compared these DVD's to his old VHS tapes that were full screen/pan-and-scan, and that they are identical, only with more info removed from the top and bottom, then they are indeed, exactly what he said... edited BEYOND what the director intended.

So, to sum up:
original filmed overscan: not meant to ever be seen by audience (and never is).
widescreen theatrical presentation: IS meant to be seen by audiences.
everything else: a butchering of the director's original intentions.

NOTE: Most movies before the early 1950's were shot in 1.37:1, which is very close to the old television ratio of 1.33:1. Also, many low-budget films and documentaries since the 1950's are still shot in that format. But the above post is referring specifically to movies filmed with the intention of a widescreen presentation.

Posted on Sep 8, 2010 5:47:09 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 12:00:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 12:04:12 AM PST
Timmy K. says:
Actually FunnyGuyDC it is you who are not completely correct. The scenario you describe for how they created 4:3 "full screen" versions of movies is only ONE technique, and used mostly for movies shot in true widescreen with anamorphic lenses. Those movies had their sides lopped off (dubbed "pan and scan") to fit an old 4:3 TV, but many movies shot with standard non-anamorphic lenses on 35mm used a different technique where in they just opened up the matt (dubbed "open matt" or "full frame") and used the entire frame of the 35mm film for the 4:3 presentation. This actually did reveal more image on the top and bottom of the screen than a matted widescreen theatrical and or DVD release would show.

A perfect example is the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure. In the scene where he is locking up his bike and appears to be pulling his never ending chain from the "saddle bag" compartment on his bike, well on the old VHS and TV version you can clearly see the chain is being pulled through a hole in the bottom of the container, ruining the illusion. But in the theater and widescreen DVD the bottom part of the image is matted off and the gag is not ruined. This was just a flub in the framing of the image when the scene was shot, but was not visible until the full frame version was later used for video/TV showings. This technique was used by many directors in the time of 4:3 televisions specifically to avoid having their films cropped "pan and scan" style. Stanley Kubrick for instance was infamous for shooting his last movies (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut) with a clear frame so as to not have any marks, crew members, boom mics etc in frame at all. The movies were cropped down for theatrical widescreen showings, but shown "full frame" on TV and on video exactly because he did NOT want them cropped "pan and scan" style. That is also why those movies were originally released on DVD only in a "full screen" version rather than wide screen. Just looking at my old "The Shining" DVD it literally says on the back "This feature is presented in the full aspect ratio of the original camera negative as Stanley Kubrick intended". It wasn't until recently when widescreen TVs became the norm that they actually rereleased those his films on DVD and Blu-ray finally in their original theatrical widescreen presentation. This "full frame" instead of "pan and scan" practice was MUCH more common than you would probably think, and it would not surprise me one bit if the old VHS versions of the Mel Brooks movies in this set were indeed open matt full frame versions, and NOT actually "pan and scan" cropped versions. If that were the case then it actually would look like some of the image had been cropped off for these Blu-rays, BUT that would also be the way the films were originally intended to be seen in theaters. I can tell you that the situation I just described there is infinitely more believable than the idea that they cropped the films for a "pan and scan" 4:3 image, and then ALSO cropped them even more for this blu-ray release. For one thing the HD transfers would certainly be totally new ones made from original film prints. Old TV and VHS transfers were done in SD and so simply could not be used for a new HD release, so a Blu-ray transfer would require going back to original film elements. So cropping them twice as you describe would have to be totally intentional, would be totally pointless, AND would require even more effort than simply doing them the right way. So basically the likelihood of it happening is anywhere from infinitesimal to "never going to happen ever anywhere for any reason".

So basically you are only partially correct, and the original reviewer is in one instance partially correct and in the other completely wrong. The old VHS tapes they looked at might indeed have had more image on top and bottom, but that doesn't mean that is the way the movie was originally intended to be seen in the theaters. The "cropped" image is the one people saw in theaters and the one that the director intended to be seem. The reviewer (and probably you) should do some more reading and get a better understanding of things like aspect ratios and the various techniques used to transfer films to video. It would definitely help avoid misunderstandings like the ones we have here.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 6:36:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 6:54:23 PM PST
D. Auer says:
Well, right or wrong, I'm glad I started this thread. The responses have been interesting and informative regarding a subject that many (myself included apparently) know too little about.

I must point out that my review is of the DVD releases (Amazon tends to link these reviews to different versions of a product); I have NOT seen the Blu-ray version. So I'd be interested in hearing the answers to a couple of questions from you, Timmy K.:
1. In what ways (if any) does this information change the ideas and opinions stated in your above response?
2. Since it is still possible to release a movie in 4:3 format, is there any way (short of seeing a film in a theater) of determining what aspect ratio was used for the theatrical release of any given film?

Thanks, D.Auer (original poster).
P.S. - I am editing my original post somewhat, given what you have said in your response.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 8, 2013 2:28:33 PM PST
Bill Z. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 29, 2015 10:27:41 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 29, 2015 10:30:33 AM PST]
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