Sep 28, 2008
Letterboxing Education on TCM
TCM on cable here in Australia is showing a nice mini-documentary between movies which educates the audience on showing films letterboxed rather than pan and scan as they've previously shown them. People like Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, Michael Mann and the late Sidney Pollack explain why pan and scan is in a sense re-directing a classic film and why letterboxing is giving the entire picture. Good on them. The education process is important. They demonstrate this using both versions of films like the '56 Ben-Hur, Gigi, My Fair Lady and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. The fact that TCM is now showing letterboxed versions where available is also deserving of credit.
Back when I was working for Foxtel, the local cable tv provider, we used to get old ladies (and invariably old ladies) who called up to bitch about the black bars above and below the picture when they watched movies. Much time, effort and many imaginative analogies were used to educate them about letterboxing. Nice to see TCM doing the right thing.
And how fucking cool is Rod Taylor in The Time Machine? (Which is on right now, letterboxed.) He essays the perfect philosopher-warrior-scientist in cinema. The second best one is Aaron Eckhardt in The Core a movie with sometimes ridiculous science but which I enjoy immensely in spite of this, partly for the great ensemble cast (Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Hillary Swank, et al) and the wondrously silly audacity of the plot.