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1974 film 40th Anniversary Edition - Aspect Ratio


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Posted by John Richardson on April 20, 2017 at 03:58:23 user Cantabrigian.

Going up to the Lakes for a long weekend, and staying at Holly Howe. Thought I'd take the 1974 film with me, to continue the initiation of a friend into all things Ransome - (she's been very good and read S&A and Swallowdale already....)

So ordered the Blu-Ray of the 40th Anniversary edition which claims to have been 'digitally restored'.

I don't want to be entirely negative: the film itself is, of course, as faithful and charming as ever, and it's great to see it in such high resolution for the first time. And in widescreen - almost - and here comes the rub...

...BUT: The film plays at full screen on a 16:9 1080p TV. This means it's playing at an aspect ratio of 1.78 - i.e. with no black bars top and bottom. Since it was shot in the (usual) cinema AR of 1.66 this means it's been cropped left and right...

...except it's WORSE: Comparing it with an old VHS I have, which had been panned and scanned for broadcast on TV back in the days when they were all 4:3, the Blu-ray (and presumably DVD) on this addition has ALSO lost content top and bottom.

It looks very like someone has taken a copy which had already been pan & scanned (i.e. cropped left and right) for 4:3 display, and then zoomed a 16:9 rectangle into that to return it to widescreen format - i.e. cropped it again (top and bottom).

And THEN, because presumably they could see they were losing so much, they didn't dare to push it to full wide-screen 16:9 (and lose even more top and bottom) and so have left it with (admittedly quite small) black bars left and right.

Nonetheless, this is absolutely the WORST of all possible combinations of choices. Insult is added to injury by the fact that the blu-ray box states the AR to be 1.66:1 - i.e. as originally shot for cinema. Which it palpably isn't!

Has anyone else noticed this, or have more information? It seems such a pity. I wonder if there is now anyway to see the film as originally shot (short of persuading a cinema to screen a print that hasn't been mucked around with)?

Despite all this I'm sure the blu-ray will enhance a weekend at Holly Howe, but Jibbooms and Bobstays - who were the tame galoots who arsed up the Blu-ray authoring to such an extent?

DUFFERS. You should be DROWNED. Or hanged in chains at Execution Dock. The only reason you won't be is we're all too nice around here.


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