Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ratio Ruckus

Okay, I understand giving director/cinematographers plenty of latitude in preparing the home video presentations of their films. But this is the second time that Vittorio Storaro has clipped his own wings and recomposed a film for DVD. Apocalypse Now has never been available in its proper ratio; and now, it looks like we’ll never see a correct Region 1 presentation of The Last Emperor, either. The just-released (and eagerly awaited) 4 disc set of The Last Emperor comes in at a 2.00x1 aspect ratio, far short of the 2.35x1 that the film was originally shot in.

Mine is still bound in plastic, but check out DVDBeaver for screen grabs that compare this version to previous editions

The DVD transfer was "supervised and approved by cinematographer by Storaro". Why does he feel the need to do this? Why do directors like Coppola and Bertolucci allow this to happen? I’m sure others will disagree, but I’d much rather have a so-so color transfer of this film than lose a not-insignificant portion of the image. And boo to Criterion for not stating this fact on the packaging – they used to be justly proud of presenting films in their original theatrical format, now they’re just hoping nobody will notice. They ought to be honest and run the same disclaimer prior to the feature that TNT and TBS run – “This film has been formatted to fit your screen”