Presented in Widescreen

Now, I like my movies in the format they were intended: widescreen. Most of my family hate widescreen, they see black lines at the top and bottom of the picture as wrong. I’m not sure if it’s some subconscious belief that it’s broken, or that they think they’re not getting their money’s worth as it doesn’t fill the whole screen. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because the picture is smaller (i.e. artefacts within the frame), so they have to strain a little harder to see it. There are a number of different widescreen formats (hat tip: Kottke), but anything that wasn’t shot in 4:3 (i.e. TV ratio), when changed to fit 4:3 loses something. This is often known as Pan & Scan, which basically means that the publishers chose what you see using a 4:3 size frame within the full widescreen version and move it about to try and make sure you get the best bits (read: action).

It’s a horrible system, and I dislike it simply because a) I know I’m not getting the movie I saw in the cinema (and many films are altered for video release, but that’s for another time) and b) I know I’m being shown everything, but what someone thinks is best for me. So do yourselves a favour, buy widescreen.


  1. Steve

    I agree, nothing beats the full panorama view, and accompanied with surround sound it makes viewing a total pleasure!
    One of the recent DVD's I've seen have actually filled the whole of my 16:9 screen (I think it might have been The Rat Race). Videos in 4:3 are horrible in comparison - a square image lurking in the centre of the screen - urgh!

  2. Wayne Warner

    Horsecrap!!!!!! Only those with televisons that ARE widescreen ever fully enjoy widescreen format,if I had a televison that was as big as the Theatre then YES I'd enjoy watching this format at home....I have a 27 inch normal televison and the widescreen format crams the entire picture into a 4 inch viewing area...DO ANY OF YOU THINK THAT IS ENJOYABLE?? Get off it,those of you that *think* you enoy widescreen format either have nice shiny new plasmas,or the latest flat screen.There are a lot of us who do NOT give a rats arse just as long as we can have a decent viewing area of what we PAID for to watch.

  3. Wayne Warner

    Sorry bout the dual post had to edit some errors in first one

    I've removed the first comment ~ Lee

  4. Lee (author)

    Actually, I watch most of my DVDs on either:

    A 21" 4:3 ratio TV,

    My 17" 4:3 monitor, or

    My 12" 4:3 laptop screen

    and I still only watch movies widescreen.

    There are very few movies that are shot at 2.35:1 ratio (super widescreen) which will cause letterbox viewing to that extent.

  5. Jerry Beard

    WIDESCREEN SUCKS, the human eye can only focus on a small area at one time so those of us who don't own a widesreen TV all it means is that your picture is alot smaller. God Bless Samsung for their DVD players that have "letterbox eliminator".

  6. Matt Stilwell

    I'm not sure how much they charge for movie tickets where you guys are (I'm in the U.S) but over here, it's about 8 dollars (that's, what, 4 pounds over there ?)
    Anyway, anybody who prefers to watch movies in fullscreen that weren't made that way are extremely deluded and maybe even a little insane. You pay 8 bucks to see a movie. Then when it comes out on dvd, you pay 15-20 bucks for a fullscreen version. That makes absolutely no sense at all. You pay 8 bucks to see a big, widescreen film then pay two or three times as much for less than half of the picture that you saw in the cinema. That's just dumb.

  7. Simon Vey

    Wide screen is better, no matter what the shape of your TV. Widescreen conforms a lot better to the way you see the world. In the near future all television will be in the digital widescreen format and widescreen TVs will be made more cheaply and therefor cost less. This means all Pan and Scan dvds are going to be obsolete.

    Movies are pieces of art and should not be slauttered by corporations trying to apease their ignorant consumers. If you don't like to view motion pictures in their original widescreen format, you will most likely live a depressing life because widescreen is winning.

  8. brandon

    "Do you know what really gets to me? What for the life of me I can not understand. Why, WHY (are) there widescreen movies? We pay all this money to get bigger tvs, and then they go and cut half of it off with black on top and bottom of the screens... Ya they say you get to see what the director sees and you see more, but why can't I see more and it still take up the whole screen? And I'm pretty sure before wide screen came out I (saw) everything I needed to, to understand the movie. Why do I need to see side junk that is really no use? I go to the movie theatre and before it starts they shrink the screen? And at the movie store I'm always trying to get my movie in full screen, but I have been told they will be starting to no longer make movies in full screen. WHAT IS GOING ON? can someone please explain to me why they are doing this?"

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