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November 2006

I almost was convinced that there is indeed proof of a supreme being when I heard that the remake of Revenge of the Nerds has been canceled. Then I remembered that Michael Bay is still busy working on the live-action Transformers. So much for proof.

Reiterating My Position

Unfortunately, every now and then someone comes along who proves that reading through the web site, including past commentaries, cannot be a realistic expectation. Allow me to reiterate my position once again.

I do not blindly advocate black bars.

Although the initial idea for this web site was to explain the dreaded “black bars”, it has since progressed to the preservation of movies in both historical and creative contexts with a firm protection of the preservation of the intended original aspect ratio (OAR). Any deviation from that, whether from the pan-and-scan process or adding black bars where they don't belong, reduces the image to “modified aspect ratio” (MAR).

To be clear, I am firmly against MAR as well as the modification of any historical media for politically correct reasons.

As would be expected, the reduction of any movie from an intended wide, aspect ratio qualifies as MAR. I have numerous, indisputable examples on this site of movies that lose a great deal of information, some of which includes critical plot information, when presented in a MAR format. (From what I've been able to determine, my Lord of the Rings examples created quite a pro-widescreen stir on numerous message areas.)

But just because a movie has the dreaded, black bars doesn't mean that I automatically support that version.

Two years ago, if I recall correctly, the first season of the original, Kung Fu television series was to be released on DVD in anamorphic (16:9 enhanced) format. The problem is that the series was filmed in a standard, 4:3 format. In what I'm sure came as a surprise to many, I pounced on Warner Bros. for this because it was the wrong thing to do.

Similarly, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut was intended to be shown in 4:3. Unfortunately, modern movie theatres are incapable of showing movies in this format without pillarboxing. (“Pillarboxing” is similar to letterboxing except that the black bars are on the sides on the screen.) The movie instead was shown in 1.85:1 theatrically due to this technical restriction. When released on DVD, Eyes Wide Shut was only available in “full screen”. Even though that is a very annoying and disingenuous term, it is the way that the movie should be seen. I don't ever expect to see nor would I support a supposedly widescreen version of Eyes Wide Shut, The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, or other such movie that was never meant to be seen in anything other than 4:3.

At this rate you can probably expect me to have to reiterate this position every year or so because of people not bothering to read through previous commentaries. C'est la vie.

Prepping For The Podcast

Believe it or not, I'm actually getting excited about doing a widescreen.org podcast. (As I stated last month, an iPod is NOT required. In fact, you don't need an MP3 player at all!) I've found myself rehearsing in the car several times on my 2.5-hour, round-trip commute to work, and I've been looking into the various types of equipment and options to use in order to make the podcast. I've even managed to secure the rights to the music that I want to use!

I'm still targeting January for the first official podcast, but I will likely do a dry run or two before then. More on this as the day draws closer.

PAL Laserdisc...

For those who use the PAL standard, I have a laserdisc of Disney's Toy Story in PAL format that I can't use. A friend of mine in London sent it to me many years ago to see if the laserdisc player that I had acquired could play PAL discs. As was expected, my laserdisc player was NTSC-only. So, if anyone wants it, all that I ask is that you pay for shipping and handling. I'll ship it anywhere in the world except to those countries where such shipments are prohibited by U.S. law. It's not like this laserdisc is doing me any good just sitting here.

Giving Thanks

Because this is the weekend after Thanksgiving here in the U.S., I want to give thanks to all of you who have shown your support for widescreen.org over the years. It's hard to believe that I've been running this site either as widescreen.org or other incarnation for over ten years. But because of your e-mails of thanks and in some instances admittances of conversion, the future for widescreen and respect for the teams of people who make movies is going strong.

I also want to go on a tangent and offer my thanks to a group of people who have nothing to do with movies, but yet without whom I probably would not be able to talk to you about movies and widescreen. These people have a courage that I never will have and a sense of honor to themselves and all of us that should make all of us humble. So, to those people I say this:

Regardless of where you are and what you are currently doing, I offer my heart-felt thanks to our men and women who defend and protect not only the U.S. but all of the citizens of the world. You have been vilified and demonized by lesser men, even those who once served with you; but I know better than to listen to their arrogant shrillness and bitterness. You live in conditions such as those that most people will never understand and you face dangers that are almost incomprehensible to the average person. You do all of this to fight those with evil in their hearts who want nothing more than to do harm to the world. A lot of people hate you due to their own ignorance, but many of us have nothing but respect for you. For what you do and the risks into which you put yourself daily, I offer a heart-felt and humble “Thank you” and I raise a glass to you in hopes that you'll come home soon.

Until next time..!