>>> Jeffrey Kane <[log in to unmask]> 4/30/2007 9:14:46 PM >>>
As for school pull-down screens, they're invariably not the right aspect
ratio but will work fine. Most are 4:3 (NTSC aspect ratio). If you watch
full-screen DVDs, that'll be fine. Most movies are in 2.35:1 superscope and
thus will only fill a part of the screen.
Actually, widescreen apertures like 2:35:1 have only been around since the 1950s. Prior to that, most films used the 4:3 ratio (also known as "Academy Aperture"). For more on the history of widescreen processes (there have been many) check out www.widescreenmuseum.com
Academy Aperture can seem cramped, and a pulldown screen or the small screens that many repertory theaters have will emphasize it's box-like qualities. But a good 35mm Academy Aperture print projected properly onto a large screen can be dazzling. Last weekend I went to see PORTRAIT OF JENNIE at the Loews Jersey ( www.loewsjersey.org ), a restored movie palace built in 1929 located in Jersey City, NJ. This theater is one of the few anywhere that uses the once-standard carbon arc projection system, which achieves superb detail and resolution, even when the throw has to cover a 50 foot screen, as it does at the Loews. Projecting an old film is not unlike playing back a 78 rpm disc. If it's done properly, the results can be wonderful. If it isn't done properly, the results are often dismal.
Home theater is a wonderful thing, and it's done a lot rekindle interest in older films. My hope is that as audiences get used to larger screens, filmmakers will start to compose frames again, and stop relying so heavily on close-ups to make their points, and there'll be more great cinematic experiences to be had in theaters. Most recent films have been shot with television screens in mind, not theatrical screens, and it shows.
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