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Customer Review

206 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Widescreen vs. 35mm for Strangers on a Train, January 21, 2000
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This review is from: Strangers on a Train (DVD)
It's important to note two things about this edition of "Strangers on a Train." First off, the description on Amazon.com's page is incorrect. This DVD is not in widescreen. The second thing is, to you widescreen buffs out there (including myself) -- Relax! This film was never shot in widescreen. In fact, prior to 1953 (The Robe), there was never anything bigger than 35mm! This is why this film (and you'll be surprised to hear), many, many classic films will never be produced in widescreen. They don't exist. You should buy this DVD because of the video quality and the extra "goodies." Gone with the Wind in widescreen? Nope, never was, even though it was blown up to 70mm and cropped horribly in the 1968 re-issue. What's out there on DVD on Gone with the Wind is standard 35mm "TV semi-square" framing, because that's the way it was shot. Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Citizen Kane? Nope, never shot in anything greater than 35mm. It's a Wonderful Life? No again. Widescreen is limited to theatrical films issued for the most part, after 1953, when competition with television forced studios to come up with the "panoramic" gimmicks to bring people back into the theaters. This is period (1953-1963) when Cinemascope, Todd-AO, VistaVision, Super Panavision 70 and other widescreen formats were born -- and the most extreme example was Cinerama, which used three cameras and is used to best effect in the DVD version of How the West Was Won. So don't fret, this DVD is good, crisp and clean and formatted as Alfred Hitchcock intended! Tomorrow's movies will be in IMAX (see Fantasia 2000, in selected theaters now).
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 1, 2010 4:40:31 PM PST
J. Evans says:
Hey Mr. Kusumoto,

You are right to admonish widescreen fanatics that widescreen is only good if the movie was shot in widescreen or at least intended to be seen in widescreen (e.g. Kubrick shot films such as the shining in "full screen," i.e. exposing the entire frame, but he did this knowing that the top and bottom of the frame would be cropped, so he was framing his shots for their eventual widescreen form). And it is so unfortunate when films that were shot full frame and intended to be seen full frame are cropped into a widescreen aspect ratio to please idiots who only want to watch widescreen movies, e.g. the new DVD version of the Romero horror classic "Martin," which Romero specifically said should be seen in its full frame aspect ratio.

However, you are confused about what 35mm means, which is evident in the phrase "widescreen vs. 35mm," which exhibits a confusion of categories. 35mm is a film gauge, which may be used to photograph or project movies of any aspect ratio. Widescreen refers to a range of aspect ratios (anything greater than 1.37:1). Film gauge and image aspect ratio are two separate things. While 35mm does have a connection to the full frame aspect ratio in that, if no anamorphic lens is used, and if the image is not cropped, a frame of 35mm film will have the the full frame aspect ratio, rather than a widescreen aspect ratio. However, anamorphic lenses and cropping are commonly used. And so no film gauge can be equated with any one aspect ratio. If someone really wanted to, they could make a motion picture with the aspect ratio of Wyler's Ben-Hur (pretty much the widest of the widescreen) on 8mm film . But it would take a lot of work, and the picture would not be crisp.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2011 12:29:25 PM PST
Fort Knox says:
What about John Wayne's 1930 epic The Big Trail shot in 70mm ? Was that one of the first widescreen movies?

Posted on Jun 19, 2011 5:18:51 PM PDT
Tom Brody says:
The reviewer mentions IMAX. I find the IMAX format to be unbearable and irritating. First of all, I am not certain why anybody would consider BIGGER to mean BETTER. In the IMAX format, theater goers cannot see the entire picture at once, but must explore the center, right-hand side, and left-hand side, separately. Is this an advantage? I don't think so. Even worse, the IMAX theaters have screens with thousands of holes. It was my impression that people go to movie theaters because, at least in part, they want to see a higher quality image than what is available at home. But at the IMAX theaters, the thousands of holes create an images that is inferior, deteriorated, and irritating. Yes, it is true that the purpose of the thousands of holes is to let sound come out from the loudspeakers located behind the screen. But so what? I don't care about the sound, as much as a crystal-clear image on the screen. If I really and truly wanted a deteriorated image on the movie screen, then perhaps I should smear peanut butter over my flat-screen television at home. That was my "IMAX rant."

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2011 3:01:44 PM PDT
Julie Vognar says:
Thanks, people for being so scholarly about this tension-filled movie! 1953. (Assume that goes for all of Europe and India and Russia and China and Japan and Sweden and Canada, too?). A LOT of full-screen movies still came out of the rest of the world after 1953--I know, you didn't say they didn't~

If you sit too close in an IMAX theater, you'll get can--no, you'll lose the depth of focus, and if you even go into the theater, you'll lose an eardrum, even if the movie was relatively quiet to begin with.

I actually prefer it (fullscreen).

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2012 6:55:28 AM PDT
to Fort Knox...

As far as I know, the first film with a "widescreen" sequence was Abel Gance's "Napoleon". He used three cameras, sometimes with different images, sometimes all of the same scene. This obviously anticipates Cinerama.

The first American widescreen films I'm aware of were "The Big Trail" and "The Bat Whispers", both shot in Fox's 70mm "Grandeur" process. The former, though having significant acting and production problems, is one of the most-spectacular films you will ever see. I am not joking.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2012 6:59:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 7:01:47 AM PDT
to Tom Brody...

Perforated / louvered screens have been used since Cinerama to allow the speakers behind the screens to be heard "unmuffled". You would have to sit awfully close to the screen to see the holes. Mr Brody is imagining he can see something, simply because he knows it's there.

In the case of IMAX, bigger is indeed better. The negative is huge, permitting levels of sharpness and detail not possible in any 35mm format. Unless the theater is unusually small, you can sit towards the rear and take in the screen all at once.
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