Wider, Better? Dept.


I was a little skeptical about a movie version of the manga Priest, but the more I hear about it, the more I like it — especially since it's from the same director bringing us the angel's-war movie Legion.

Mr. Beaks And Director Scott Stewart Talk LEGION, PRIEST And The Hording Of Anamorphic Lenses!

Mr. Beaks: You're done with PRIEST now.

Stewart: We wrapped PRIEST right before Thanksgiving. ... I shot the movie in true anamorphic with old C-series lenses from the '70s, and I'm like, "Wow. This looks so great." I'm so happy. It looks like the movies I grew up loving.

Right there Stewart made a potential fan out of me. A big part of what I miss in the movies lately is six-sprocket 70mm or at least 35mm anamorphic widescreen, both of which used that much more of the film to create its image. The current Super 35 process just blocks off the top and bottom of the frame to create the proper aspect ratio, which means you're putting that much more picture onto that much less film.

I suspect there's more use of the full 35mm frame in Japan, as many of the tokusatsu pictures use 1.78 or 1.85 instead of 2.35 as their aspect ratio. Many movies from the Sixties and Seventies also used anamorphic widescreen (e.g., the samurai classics like Samurai Rebellion or Kwaidan), but there doesn't seem to have been as much aggressive adoption of Super 35, and I wonder if that's because a) the film stock used there doesn't really support it or b) the production culture there has rejected it because it creates a movie that looks that much grainier and less colorful. Gojoe, for instance, was done in 1.85 or so, and even in the not-very-good U.S. DVD edition the colors pop out at you.

I've long disliked the trend towards a wider screen at the expense of detail or color depth. The original Blade was 2.35 and didn't look bad, but Blade II (Guillermo del Toro!) was 1.85, and it showed: the reds looked red. Yeah, you had less space on the sides of the screen, but good shot composition will more than make up for that.

Speaking of Red, I just hope the current push towards digital doesn't come at the expense of such things. I was impressed with the way District 9 and Gamer looked, and only found out after the fact they were shot digitally. But there's a part of me that's always going to love film for the same reason you never get tired of looking at the brushstrokes on a Rembrandt.


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