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Kubrick's last three movies


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 11:02 PM

This is old hat for most people, but for those who still insist that Kubrick's last three films were composed for 4x3, the Kubrick Archives book has an interesting item from "The Shining" -- a still photograph of the Timberline Lodge location with Kubrick's 1.85 framelines drawn over it with the note attached:

"THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1-1.85
Obviously you compose for that
but protect the full 1-1.33 area"
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#2 Algis Kemezys

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 12:10 PM

I thought Kubricks Eyes wide Shut totally made me unsettled with Nicole and Tom. I also think Kubrick admitted in helping fake out the moon landing. Thats why he moved to England. I believe he was a still photographer turned cinematic director. Certainly one of the gods of Cinema...RIP
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 12:16 PM

I thought Kubricks Eyes wide Shut totally made me unsettled with Nicole and Tom. I also think Kubrick admitted in helping fake out the moon landing. Thats why he moved to England. I believe he was a still photographer turned cinematic director. Certainly one of the gods of Cinema...RIP

Dont know where you got all rubbish about fake Moon Landings , yes a very visual director , love the images but no heart . john holland .
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#4 Jason Debus

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 04:25 PM

This is old hat for most people, but for those who still insist that Kubrick's last three films were composed for 4x3, the Kubrick Archives book has an interesting item from "The Shining" -- a still photograph of the Timberline Lodge location with Kubrick's 1.85 framelines drawn over it with the note attached:

"THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1-1.85
Obviously you compose for that
but protect the full 1-1.33 area"


I'm just curious what Kubrick's thinking was in the DVD releases if it was composed for 1.85:1. My copies of his last three movies have these notes:

EYES WIDE SHUT - This feature is presented in the full aspect ratio of the original camera negative, as Stanley Kubrick intended.
FULL METAL JACKET - STANDARD VERSION This film has been modified as follows from it's original version: it has been formatted to fit your screen
THE SHINING - This feature is presented in the full aspect ratio of the original camera negative, as Stanley Kubrick intended.

So, even if he composed for 1.85:1 he wished that the full negative be shown, at least for 'Eyes Wide Shut' and 'The Shining' DVDs. Does this mean Kubrick preferred the 1.33:1 aspect ratio but composed for 1.85:1 because that's what the majority of theatres are outfitted for?

On a side note, I'm undecided on which versions of a movie to watch when both the 'full' and 'wide' versions are offered on a DVD. Almost a full negative is seen on the 'full' versions where the film is non-anamorphic. For example, these screen grabs from 'The Black Stallion' (click for larger image):

Posted ImagePosted Image
Posted ImagePosted Image

Regarding the moon landing, I think Kubrick did a much better job in 2001: A Space Odyssey capturing the moon's essence. But he was working with 1969 video on the 'real' moon landing, so I guess that is understandable.

The real moon landing:

What was really said when Armstrong landed on the moon. (NSFW) :lol:
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 06:12 PM

In general you should watch the DVD version with the intended framing, which is almost always the theatrical version. It doesn't matter if the unmatted version shows you more picture, because it was not meant to be seen. The unmatted versions tend to dilute the power of the widescreen frame. And a pan & scan version is even more detrimental to the compositions.

Even if the matted version seems odd in terms of the heads being chopped off (like in "The Matrix" sequels or "Searching for Bobby Fisher") this was an intended effect.

Kubrick is a unique case because he preferred showing his last three movies on 4x3 TV unmatted (we have no idea if he would have insisted that they fill a 16x9 TV if that became the standard.) The reasons are vague, but the best answer I've gotten is that he just liked the way that looked on TV because it reminded him of the classic 1.37 Academy format. But they were composed for being cropped to widescreen, which is fairly obvious in the video transfer of "The Shining" and "Full Metal Jacket" if you look at the medium close-ups, which all have an excessive amount of headroom. It's not so apparent with the transfer for "Eyes Wide Shut". One theory is that since he was dead when that was transferred to video, he never explicity instructed that they not re-adjust the headroom in the transfer to 4x3 full-frame, so the colorist "fixed" the headroom in the transfer. Another theory is that he framed the movie with 1.85 and 4x3 TV sharing "common top" and had the negative optically reshifted for making the IP/IN for release prints (not substantiated, but a few people think the dupe negative used for the release prints looked like it was done in an optical printer.) I kinda doubt that explanation though.

He hard-matted the negatives of "Clockwork Orange" and "Barry Lyndon" by the way and preferred that they be transferred with the mattes visible (i.e. letterboxed.)
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#6 Mike Williamson

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 06:35 PM

I remember reading that the reason Kubrick insisted his movies be shown full-screen on video had to do with his having seen "2001" on television pan & scanned and feeling that it looked terrible. So instead of having his 1.85 films pan & scanned by someone besides himself, he got control of the process by insisting that the entire frame be protected in shooting and having the transfers shown open matte.

I got the feeling it was a somewhat compromised way of regaining control over the video copies of his films, a decision made during a time when letterboxing was still unpopular with distributors and maybe most viewers. And as Kubrick always had a strong practical streak and wanted his films to be seen as much as possible, he felt that this was the best way to satisfy distributors and still be the person making the decisions about what the final images would look like on TV/VHS/etc.

My theory is largely guesswork, but I feel like it's based on comments he made in an interview in either Michael Ciment's book or the "Conversations with Filmmakers" book. Does anyone recall a reading anything similar to this?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 12:44 AM

I remember reading that the reason Kubrick insisted his movies be shown full-screen on video had to do with his having seen "2001" on television pan & scanned and feeling that it looked terrible. So instead of having his 1.85 films pan & scanned by someone besides himself, he got control of the process by insisting that the entire frame be protected in shooting and having the transfers shown open matte.


Yes, although he didn't shoot his two films following "2001" open-matted -- they were hard-matted to around 1.50 to 1.66. Maybe he saw "2001" on television after that...

I mean, the reason EVERYONE, not just Kubrick, tends to shoot 35mm 1.85 films open-matted and "protected" for 4x3 TV is to make the job of telecine transfer to 4x3 full-frame a little easier, so he's hardly an original thinker on this issue. It's a fairly standard operating procedure.

It's just that some people insist that Kubrick actually composed these movies for 4x3 and it's the widescreen theatrical projection which is compromising his intent, which makes no sense to me.

Now, as 16x9 becomes more and more the norm for TV, there will be a smaller difference between the TV version and the theatrical framing, especially for 1.85 films. So not only will "protecting for 4x3" be less necessary, shooting in 4-perf altogether will become less necessary (except for 2.35 anamorphic films.)
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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 04:43 PM

So, even if he composed for 1.85:1 he wished that the full negative be shown, at least for 'Eyes Wide Shut' and 'The Shining' DVDs. Does this mean Kubrick preferred the 1.33:1 aspect ratio but composed for 1.85:1 because that's what the majority of theatres are outfitted for?

---More likely he didn't like letterboxing on TV, nor having the sides of his compositions cropped.
Showing the full frame on TV for a 1.85/1 movie used to be the standard. Since a print was being broadcast, not a tape.



Regarding the moon landing, I think Kubrick did a much better job in 2001: A Space Odyssey capturing the moon's essence. But he was working with 1969 video on the 'real' moon landing, so I guess that is understandable.

'2001' was 1967, before the moon landing.

The real moon landing:

What was really said when Armstrong landed on the moon. (NSFW) :lol:


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#9 Jozo Zovko

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 03:52 PM

Hello -
Thanks for bringing up "The Black Stallion" Jason.

That?s one of the films I ONLY watch in 1.33 - regardless of what the filmmakers intended. I hope one day to ask Mr. Deschanel if they did compose for 1.33 since the film is just stunning in that frame, or at least more so then the 1.85 since it is amazing in any frame.

It will be a sad day when 1.33 is cast away. I love the frame and hope it lives on at least as long as i am around. Who can imagine Bergman's "Persona" or Tarkovsky's "Mirror" or most films made before the 1960s in any frame other then a nice square? I can't thank Gus Van Sant and Harris Savides enough for the last 2 films they've made together. I just hope more follow down the path.

Have a nice day,
Joe Zovko
AC - IA 600
LA, CA
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 04:57 PM

I'm also quite a fan of 1.33:1. I'm also a huge fan of 2.40:1, it's just the ones in between I don't particularly fancy.

When I shoot commercials or music videos I always get into the nonsense of matting for 1.85:1 when the intended product is a 4x3 TV to make it look "cool" and more "like a feature". It's a bit like adding grain to video to make it look more film like - who do they think they're fooling, you know?. But, as David pointed out, the world is turning to 1.78:1 (if ever there was format invented by a clueless committé, this one's it), so I won't have to have that fight much longer now. But then they're going to matte the 16x9 video to 2.40:1 to make it look "cool" and more "film like", so the whole circus starts all over again. There won't be any shortages of fights to fight in the format war in the future, that's for sure.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 02 December 2005 - 05:02 PM.

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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 07:01 PM

But then they're going to matte the 16x9 video to 2.40:1 to make it look "cool" and more "film like", so the whole circus starts all over again.


Perhaps another trend to pop up in commercials after 16x9 is the norm for TV sets will be to pillarbox them to 1.33...

I like all the aspect ratios as long as the compositions are interesting. Scope has long fascinated me though, as has 1.37 Academy, so it's harder to feel sentimental about 1.85, it seems so meat-and-potatoes for theatrical features. But I've seen many "flat" widescreen movies with fantastic compositions, from "Barry Lyndon" to "The Piano", etc.

But use of 2.35 has been so much on the rise lately that we are seeing a lot of indifferently composed 2.35 movies out there, taking some of the uniqueness out of the format.

Although it's funny because at the post houses where I'm currently working on "Akeelah and the Bee", people act like anamorphic photography is strange and exotic. "Wow, this footage is already squeezed..." "what do you mean, that's the whole negative, there's no cropping?"

I went to a dinner at the ASC, and at least two DP's sort of scoffed at the notion of shooting with anamorphic lenses when I brought it up: "it's so limiting -- you hijack the whole production to serve the lenses rather than the other way around", "Super-35 looks just as good", "there's never a good reason to shoot in anamorphic", etc.
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#12 Stephen Williams

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 07:01 AM

Although it's funny because at the post houses where I'm currently working on "Akeelah and the Bee", people act like anamorphic photography is strange and exotic. "Wow, this footage is already squeezed..." "what do you mean, that's the whole negative, there's no cropping?"

I went to a dinner at the ASC, and at least two DP's sort of scoffed at the notion of shooting with anamorphic lenses when I brought it up: "it's so limiting -- you hijack the whole production to serve the lenses rather than the other way around", "Super-35 looks just as good", "there's never a good reason to shoot in anamorphic", etc.


David,

The problem with many Post Houses is the people working there are very young, with no background in film.

Had the 2 ASC members ever shot a film in Anamorthic?

Stephen
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 02:07 PM

Kubrick is a unique case because he preferred showing his last three movies on 4x3 TV unmatted (we have no idea if he would have insisted that they fill a 16x9 TV if that became the standard.) The reasons are vague, but the best answer I've gotten is that he just liked the way that looked on TV because it reminded him of the classic 1.37 Academy format. But they were composed for being cropped to widescreen, which is fairly obvious in the video transfer of "The Shining" and "Full Metal Jacket" if you look at the medium close-ups, which all have an excessive amount of headroom.
<< It's not so apparent with the transfer for "Eyes Wide Shut". One theory is that since he was dead when that was transferred to video, he never explicity instructed that they not re-adjust the headroom in the transfer to 4x3 full-frame, so the colorist "fixed" the headroom in the transfer. >>


---Not that long ago, I was watching the DVD of 'Eyes Wide Shut' and compared the framing of the feature with the frame grabs in the Scene Selection menu. The frame grabs had more side information than the feature itself. So it is a pan and scan transfer.

********
David,

The problem with many Post Houses is the people working there are very young, with no background in film.

********

I used to work in neg prep at a lab that vaulted a lot of mgm/UA and Columbia features.
The lab hired a number of people from a local art school's 'music video business' program.
Many of them winding up in timing, where they would time, cold, new prints and I/Ps of classic features.
These people had no concept of day for night. So we'd see shoots of folks waving torches or sitting around campfires in bright daylight.

---LV
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#14 Christian Appelt

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:45 PM

More about Kubrick and the moon landing:

Dark Side of the Moon (fake documentary)

Wikipedia entry

:rolleyes:
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#15 Mei Lewis

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 09:35 AM

I recently watched Eyes Wide Shut, not sure exactly what version or transfer but the aspect ratio certainly seemed to be like standard def TV.

At first it felt odd, but I gradually realised that it complemented the story and the rest of the artistic decisions very well. It felt like I was watching a secret TV channel, or CCTV footage, which added to the uncertaintly of what was going on.
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#16 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 11:44 AM

More about Kubrick and the moon landing:

Dark Side of the Moon (fake documentary)

Wikipedia entry

:rolleyes:


People love these conspiracy theories. I'd check out "Mythbusters" who showed very nicely that the moon images match reality. There are a number other documentaries that demonstrate the same thing. Anyway the USSR would've been the first to complain at the time if they thought it was fake.

BTW You don't see stars in the Moon photographs because it's bright sunlight and star light is very faint, perhaps the most you might catch would be Venus or another planet (just as you'd see on Earth during the daytime).
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#17 Mark Dunn

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 03:27 AM

The first UK showing of 2001 was by the BBC in about 1979 and they made a wretched job of it, filling up the letterbox with fake stars and even pushing some shots to the bottom of the screen, with fake stars above. If Kubrick saw that he must have blown a gasket. Perhaps that experience, shall we politely say, informed his later practice of overseeing his own transfers.
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#18 George Ebersole

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:07 AM

I saw "Full Metal Jacket" in the theatre, and it was matted. The DVD shows the full unmatted frame. It is a bit different. Kubrick framed for the widescreen with that film, or so it seemed. I'm not too sure about the others.
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#19 Freya Black

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 06:28 AM

This is old hat for most people, but for those who still insist that Kubrick's last three films were composed for 4x3, the Kubrick Archives book has an interesting item from "The Shining" -- a still photograph of the Timberline Lodge location with Kubrick's 1.85 framelines drawn over it with the note attached:

"THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1-1.85
Obviously you compose for that
but protect the full 1-1.33 area"



I can never believe that people get into disagreements over the aspect ratio of the Shining.

It never ceases to amaze me that people will believe any old s***.

I first saw The Shining as a 4:3 transfer on video. The OPENING shot of the film is a helicopter based shot following a car along a road. You can VERY clearly see the shadow of the helicopter following the car in the 4:3 version.

As such when I first saw this film, I thought there was some sinister agency following the car and it skewed my whole viewing of the film. I was really confused when I saw the whole film and realised that the helicopter shot didn't seem that relevant and it was never explained who was following him. I guess for those who had already seen the film in its correct aspect ratio didn't feel weird about this as they already knew the helicopter wasn't relevant as they had already seen the film without the helicopter shadows.

It seems clear to me that the helicopter shadows shouldn't be there and should be matted out. If that is not the case then we have the following two options.

1) The helicopter shadows are supposed to be there. The helicopter is following the car and there is some sinister agency at work, powerful enough to have it's own helicopters and that they have possibly made Jack Nicholson take this job at the hotel Jonathon Harker style. The trouble is that there is very little in the film to back up this supposition.

2) Mr Kubrick was the kind of filmmaker who either wasn't really that bothered about the quality of his work or couldn't afford to reshoot the expensive helicopter shoot so had to keep it Ed Wood style. In this version of reality we have to either accept that Stanley is either the new Ed Wood or he is just a careless and sloppy filmmaker who couldn't be bothered that the VERY FIRST shot in his film had serious problems in it. I ask you to consider those 2 aspects for a moment and to see if these ideas seem to match the information you may already have about Mr Kubrick at all.

For myself it is clear to the point of being OBVIOUS that the helicopter shadows should not be there and that they probably ruined my first viewing of this film. It seems to me that a lot of people just seem to believe whatever the first thing they are told is.

People may scoff at the idea that Kubrick helped fake the moon landings but quite frankly, for me at least, no matter how little evidence there is for the faked moon landings, there has to be a lot more than there is for the idea that the Shining should be 4:3 and yet it continues to be an issue!???

For me this just sums up the fact that there is something seriously wrong with certain parts of humanity.

We don't even need a piece of paper written by Mr Kubrick saying that the aspect ratio should be 1.85:1 because it is transparently clear even without it but I'm sure the fact we have one will continue to be ignored by those who have invested in a reality that is contrary to this.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 20 April 2010 - 06:32 AM.

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