Here’s an open-letter proposal addressed to the Academy, Quentin Tarantino‘s New Beverly Cinema and the programmers of the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian and Aero theatres to devote seven days to the glorious 1.66:1 aspect ratio. They don’t have to call it the Hollywood Elsewhere 1.66:1 Celebration Festival, but seriously…who else has stood up for 1.66:1 like I have? Who else has gone mano e mano with 1.85 fascists (Bob Furmanek, Pete Apruzzese) whenever a new Bluray of a 1950s or early ’60s comes out with a 1.78 or 1.85 aspect ratio? Who else has pleaded with Universal Home Video for a 1.66:1 aspect ratio for the forthcoming One-Eyed Jacks Bluray?
The idea would be to schedule this festival sometime in the dog days of August. It’ll create a lingering impression, a kind of stamp upon the bicoastal film culture. People need to be reminded that once there was a realm called 1.66, and that it was one of the most visually gratifying rectangles in the history of 20th Century cinema. Think of it — nothing but 1.66 films back to back for five or seven days straight! Plus a chance to correct previous Bluray mis-croppings (i.e., The Manchurian Candidate and A Hard Day’s Night Blurays presented at 1.75 but easily croppable at 1.66).
The following should be included: (1) Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (easily croppable at 1.66 despite Universal Home Video’s decision to issue the Bluray in a “rape” aspect ratio of 1.78); (2) Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion; (3) Francois Truffaut‘s The Last Metro; (4) Wim Wenders‘ The American Friend; (5) Merchant-Ivory‘s A Room With A View; (6) Elia Kazan‘s On The Waterfront; (7) the first three James Bond films — Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger; (8) Wong Kar Wai‘s Chungking Express; (9) Otto Preminger‘s Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion Bluray presented this 1959 pic within a 1.85 “rape” aspect ratio); (9) John Frankenheimer‘s The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May and The Train; (10) Stanley Kubrick‘s Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, Barry Lyndon; (11) John Schlesinger‘s Sunday Bloody Sunday; (11) Clive Donner‘s What’s New, Pussycat?; and (12) Guy Hamilton‘s The Devil’s Disciple.
Who am I kidding? Nobody cares about this or any other aspect ratio. Or not very much. Ask any top-tier film critic to identify the aspect ratio of a film he/she saw the night before and 85% or 90% will say, “Uhm, I don’t remember.”
God, how I love those slim vertical black bars on the side when I watch 1.66:1 Blurays!