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Soderbergh's The Good German


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#1 danny young

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 03:17 AM

I happened to catch part of Soderbergh's 2006 feature The Good German the other night on IFC. It was broadcast in 1.33 so at first I assumed that it had been cropped, which seems unfortunately too often the case with IFC these days. However the compositions appeared so compatible to 1.33 that I began wondering what the original aspect ratio really had been. As it turns out, according to wikipedia and imdb, the film was composed and released at 1.66!

So my question is this: How was the release accomplished in the USA where 1.85 and 2.40 release formats rule?

Also, another point of confusion is that David Bordwell claims the film was released at 1.85. Bordwell writes "...shots are closer and compositions less compact than in the sort of 1940s film that Soderbergh seems to be mimicking. These factors are probably due to the fact that he had to shoot in 1.85 and couldn’t stick to the 1.33 proportions of the newsreel-montage credits."

http://www.davidbord....net/blog/?p=66
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:49 PM

So my question is this: How was the release accomplished in the USA where 1.85 and 2.40 release formats rule?


Some theatres can show 1.66. Others would have no qualms about showing a 1.66 movie at 1.85.

When i was a kid and in high school most of the theatres around here projected in 1.66/1.

the last movie i saw at my neighborhood theatre before the owners burnt it down was 'Fitzcaralldo',
which was shot with a 1.85 hard matte and projected at 1.66. So yes, the edges of the hard matte showed on the screen.
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#3 Keneu Luca

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 06:52 PM

Some theatres can show 1.66. Others would have no qualms about showing a 1.66 movie at 1.85.

When i was a kid and in high school most of the theatres around here projected in 1.66/1.

the last movie i saw at my neighborhood theatre before the owners burnt it down was 'Fitzcaralldo',
which was shot with a 1.85 hard matte and projected at 1.66. So yes, the edges of the hard matte showed on the screen.


The owners burnt down their own theater? How could they do such a thing? Bunch of inglorious basterds...
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#4 danny young

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:42 AM

Some theatres can show 1.66. Others would have no qualms about showing a 1.66 movie at 1.85.

When i was a kid and in high school most of the theatres around here projected in 1.66/1.

the last movie i saw at my neighborhood theatre before the owners burnt it down was 'Fitzcaralldo',
which was shot with a 1.85 hard matte and projected at 1.66. So yes, the edges of the hard matte showed on the screen.

I was sort of wondering if the 1.66 made it more difficult for domestic distribution. While the theatres might have had no problem projecting with a 1.85 mask, I wonder what the director/cinematographer would have thought about that.

I suppose if you're going to burn down your theatre, Fitzcaralldo would be a fitting final film. I think that hard matte was a good idea; I was in France some years ago and went to see an early Hal Hartley film. The projectionist had the 1.66 mask in and for a good part of the showing, the microphone was visible. It was awful. (But the film was good!)
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:07 AM

I was sort of wondering if the 1.66 made it more difficult for domestic distribution. While the theatres might have had no problem projecting with a 1.85 mask, I wonder what the director/cinematographer would have thought about that.

Well, most theaters in the US are only able to project 1.85 flat or 2.39 'scope, so yes 1.66 does complicate distribution. As Leo says, most theaters would simply project the film with a 1.85 mask since they do not have a wider lens or ability to move the projector back in order to fit 1.66 on their screens.

I'm sure Steven Soderbergh was well aware of all that before he decided to go with the 1.66 aspect ratio. As I recall, "The Good German" did not get a very wide theatrical release, so that probably factored into his decision. At least it would be shown in the intended aspect ratio at film festivals and art house/independent cinemas.
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#6 danny young

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 07:09 PM

The budget was $32,000,000. So for that price wouldn't you think they'd have planned a full theatrical distribution in the planned aspect ratio? I don't see how you can compose for 1.66 with the idea you're going to let it go off in 1.85. Well, maybe I can. It's not so distant after all. I was also wondering if they might have tried releasing with the 1.66 embedded in a 1.85 or scope release so that the full frame height could have be guaranteed.

From what I saw on IFC, it looked right for 1.33. Though Bordwell says it looks like it was staged and composed for 1.85. But then Bordwell isn't a cinematographer, and neither am I. Well not yet anyways.
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