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Thread: Brief Encounter

  1. #101
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    In our brief chat he confirmed that not may modern cinemas have the masking and lens configuration to show an Academy ratio film in its full aspect ratio. Owen used to work in the West End before joining the Curzon group, he points out that there is just no real demand for an Academy aspect ratio in modern cinemas, something I think we all knew so it would be a case of making sure the cinema you intend to view an Academy film is properly equiped to show this format
    I'm glad you're finding this useful (and even happier that you've finally been persuaded that it is indeed the case that most current cinemas can't screen Academy ratio), but my original question about the framing of the digital print of Brief Encounter remains unanswered.



    Not that it matters - because I couldn't get a definite answer, I'm off to see The Simpsons instead. There, at least I can reasonably guarantee that it'll be shown properly!

  2. #102
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    I'm glad you're finding this useful (and even happier that you've finally been persuaded that it is indeed the case that most current cinemas can't screen Academy ratio), but my original question about the framing of the digital print of Brief Encounter remains unanswered.



    Not that it matters - because I couldn't get a definite answer, I'm off to see The Simpsons instead. There, at least I can reasonably guarantee that it'll be shown properly!
    Yes, I guess I found the notion that cinemas cant really show the Academy format very hard to believe and didn't want it to be true! But yes it is true as you have found out by viewing a terribly cropped version of Casablanca and thats a bit shocking to me and a bit dissapointing . I can kind of understand the logic if there is no real demand for the format which went out of fashion in the fifties when cinemascope arrived.Thankfully there are a a number of cinemas in London that can show the Academy ratio but they are few, and thats all right if you are in London but I wouldn't imagine a regional multiplex or local cinema out of town would have the facility, well I guess we will have to wait and see what kind of viewing format "Brief Encounter" is going to be presented in I have an awful feeling it could be the dreaded cropped to 1.66 version, lets hope not.

    Enjoy the "Simpsons", I hear it has good reviews and good performances.........

  3. #103
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    This seems very much like the discussion we had on Blow-up last week elsewhere in this forum.



    Cheeky Bob's explanation is very good and I agree all along the line. Industry terminology is always changing of course and the practice of distinguishing 'flat' and anamorphic prints is relatively recent, I think. The standard terms after the introduction of 'Scope are as Cheeky Bob suggests.



    Just a couple of points to try to answer the original question.



    Most of the British films showing on Tuesday nights this summer are on digital prints as this is part of UK Film Council's whizzo idea of central advertising for 'one-off' shows. This way, they argue, smaller cinemas with a digital projector benefit from extra marketing. I'm not sure they are right, but we'll see.



    There are two potential dangers I see. The first is where a digital projector (installed with support from public money) has gone into a multiplex. The multiplex screens might be shaped to fit only widescreen films. The screen is not tall enough to take Academy. The only option is to shrink the image to fit the screen, but without tabs/curtains this will mean an unattractive white space either side of the image, which I doubt the management would allow. Consequently, it will be cropped. I remember this with a re-release of Snow White in an old tripled Odeon and a screening of a German silent film in an old ABC. I don't want to malign multiplexes, but it would be wise to enquire beforehand if the screen can accommodate Academy. If they don't know what you are asking, I wouldn't go to that cinema. Your best bet is to go to a cinema that regularly shows pre-1953 films, especially silents. In Bradford we are lucky to have the National Media Museum where everything is projected in the original ratio.



    The second problem that might occur is a projectionist selecting the wrong ratio for a digital print. The way the system works is that the digital print is loaded onto the projector (i.e. from a portable hard drive onto the projector's hard drive) and a computer then controls the presentation. The projectionist effectively compiles a computer menu for the film. A range of aspect ratios can be selected (and changed) at the flick of a switch, including 1.37:1, I believe. What ends up on screen is then a combination of the ratio of the digital print itself and the ratio selected for the computer. As long as they match and the screen is the right shape, Brief Encounter should look better than at any time since 1945. If they don't match, Celia and Trevor could be cropped or squeezed.



    I have to say that of the now significant number of digital prints I have seen in Bradford, Cornerhouse Manchester and Vue The Light, Leeds, only one was seriously faulty as a presentation and that was Moliere (but we decided this was a fault in the colour grading of the original print rather than the final digital print or the projection, since the 35mm print had the same problems).

  4. #104
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    There's a cinema in Edinburgh that doesn't actually have adjustable masking -- the screen is 2.35:1 and narrower films are simply projected into the middle of it. But you don't get distracting white stripes down the side, because when the lights are out, the screen is dark. So you get a film in the middle and darkness all around. The edges of the film are sift, fading into the dark, which isn't ideal, BUT -- any projectionist could shrink an academy ratio film to fit a wide modern screen, with no need to tilt up and down to keep action in frame.

  5. #105
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    Industry terminology is always changing of course and the practice of distinguishing 'flat' and anamorphic prints is relatively recent, I think. The standard terms after the introduction of 'Scope are as Cheeky Bob suggests.
    To be fair, 'flat' and 'Scope' have been around for some time too. In fact, I instinctively wrote 'Scope' in one of my earlier posts, but changed it to 2.35:1 because I didn't want to cause any more confusion.



    Most of the British films showing on Tuesday nights this summer are on digital prints as this is part of UK Film Council's whizzo idea of central advertising for 'one-off' shows. This way, they argue, smaller cinemas with a digital projector benefit from extra marketing. I'm not sure they are right, but we'll see.
    It's a perfectly sound idea in theory, and full marks to them for at least trying. I'm a huge fan of digital formats in general, because although I completely agree that a projected nitrate copy of a black-and-white film is one of the wonders of the era, that doesn't do much to increase access. DVDs have had a phenomenal impact on availability of titles that were pretty much completely inaccessible a decade ago, and if similar economies of scale can be achieved through digital prints, I'm all for it.



    There are two potential dangers I see. The first is where a digital projector (installed with support from public money) has gone into a multiplex. The multiplex screens might be shaped to fit only widescreen films. The screen is not tall enough to take Academy. The only option is to shrink the image to fit the screen, but without tabs/curtains this will mean an unattractive white space either side of the image, which I doubt the management would allow. Consequently, it will be cropped.
    Alternatively, shouldn't it be possible to frame the image at 16:9 and pillarbox the Academy picture with black bars at the sides? (I may be betraying my ignorance here, as I know absolutely nothing about digital projection in cinemas, so I'm grafting my knowledge of home cinema onto it!)



    The second problem that might occur is a projectionist selecting the wrong ratio for a digital print.
    Indeed - and that happens a worrying number of times on BBC4 as well! I remember one time the aspect ratio was corrected about ten minutes in, but it shouldn't have been wrong in the first place.



    The way the system works is that the digital print is loaded onto the projector (i.e. from a portable hard drive onto the projector's hard drive) and a computer then controls the presentation. The projectionist effectively compiles a computer menu for the film. A range of aspect ratios can be selected (and changed) at the flick of a switch, including 1.37:1, I believe. What ends up on screen is then a combination of the ratio of the digital print itself and the ratio selected for the computer. As long as they match and the screen is the right shape, Brief Encounter should look better than at any time since 1945. If they don't match, Celia and Trevor could be cropped or squeezed.
    That's extremely useful - thanks for that. I've only ever seen two big-screen high-definition digital projections to my knowledge, and one of them was less than perfect (there was a glitch in the subtitles), though The Simpsons last night was flawless. And I've yet to brave one in Academy, but there's a first time for everything...

  6. #106
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    Sorry everyone - I may have missed the point but isn't it supposed to be about the script, performances, suspension of disbelief? I saw Brief Encounter on Tuesday and I have not the remotest idea what ratio it was shown in, nor do I care particularly - it was on a big screen, the lights went down and I lost myself completely in the experience - great script which even now barely creaks at all, strong performances, atmospheric direction. Ironically, based on comments earlier in this thread, I saw the Simpsons the week before and they started the film with the wrong screen size selected and had to adjust the screen width about five minutes in! D'oh!

  7. #107
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    Sorry everyone - I may have missed the point but isn't it supposed to be about the script, performances, suspension of disbelief? I saw Brief Encounter on Tuesday and I have not the remotest idea what ratio it was shown in, nor do I care particularly - it was on a big screen, the lights went down and I lost myself completely in the experience - great script which even now barely creaks at all, strong performances, atmospheric direction. Ironically, based on comments earlier in this thread, I saw the Simpsons the week before and they started the film with the wrong screen size selected and had to adjust the screen width about five minutes in! D'oh!
    Of course it is, it is about all those things and more, and the point of this forum is that we are prone to discuss all aspects of a film including visual ones such as lighting , photography,set design, location etc... and more technical aspects of film projection. Cheeky Bob was raising a question and concern that films like Brief Encounter and Casablanca were being shown on a cinema screen with a loss of the original image area at the top and the bottom and he, like me, would much prefer not to view a film in a cropped format, and would prefer to see the whole image as the director and cinematographer intended.As I consider myself reasonably visually aware with a huge interest in photography as probably cheeky bob and others are, I would consider those kind of issues to be important, I agree that they are not the be all and end all but at the end o fthe day a Film is a photographic visual medium as well as a dramatic one and I think it is important to address these isssues.

  8. #108
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    Sorry everyone - I may have missed the point but isn't it supposed to be about the script, performances, suspension of disbelief?
    ...as well as staging and cinematography, which can be equally crucial. Especially when you're dealing with a director like David Lean, who generally worked with top-notch cinematographers and was very precise about his framing.



    I'll give you a very good example of why picture composition can be crucial for the way a scene comes off: Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West contains a blinding shot in which we see Henry Fonda walking in the distance from right to left. "Aha!" we collectively think, "I know how this works - Charles Bronson is going to move from left to right at the same distance, and the two are going to meet in the middle!". But instead Leone has Bronson appear on the extreme right of the frame, in startlingly gigantic close-up, and it's so unexpected that it almost makes you jump.



    However, when this was screened on television, the picture was literally cut in half, and so the dreaded pan-and-scan machine had to follow Fonda across the frame, before scurrying back to catch Bronson. But because of this additional movement (in the original, the camera is absolutely still), the impact of the original conception was diluted to the point where it's almost lost entirely.



    (I brought up this particular sequence because I recall it vividly, but I'm sure you can find very similar instances in the work of David Lean - Lawrence of Arabia undoubtedly contains several examples).



    To be fair, this isn't always so important, and Leone's films are an extreme example - I doubt you'd do significant damage to Ken Loach's work if you cropped it, since he's really not that interested in visual matters. But David Lean was a very strongly visual director, so it's important that his work be watched in the shape he intended.

  9. #109
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    ...I may have missed the point but isn't it supposed to be about the script, performances, suspension of disbelief?
    That may be what Film, TV and Theatre all have in common, but there are differences which take the various artforms into different areas.



    Theatre is about dialogue and performance of the script. Whereas in the Movies, where dialogue is often one of the least important aspects, it is about the experience of image and sound combined (often it is said that film is about 'action'... but that word can be misunderstood because of the genre). I would say that sound is also crucial to the movies... but that's another matter for another thread.



    The projected image is crucial to film as an art form. If the image is cropped or pan and scanned, then the cinematography, staging and camera movements can be seriously affected and often for the worse (Pan and Scan can result in apparent camera movements which do not exist on the actual movie). This might not affect the casual viewer, however Cinema is both a casual entertainment and an artform - depending on the attitude of the individual watching the movie.



    It is also dependant on that same attitude whether or not it matters if a movie is cropped or in its original intended aspect ratio. If simple entertainment is required, then so what if the image is cropped... however for those who wish to have the chance to relish the full experience of the art, then cropping the image destroys this because it alters the art.



    As an art form, a movie is much much more than script, performances and suspension of disbelief. Those are merely parts of the art. A movie is about photography, story, acting, scoring, sound design, sets, colour (even if black and white or tinted)... a multitude of things. However, a movie is more often than not required to be entertainment for the masses.



    A well-made movie is both art and entertainment. A well presented viewing of a movie should cater for both art and entertainment also... and this can only mean that the movie be in the ratio it was intended to be shown in. Uncropped - placing it once again upon the attitude of the individual viewer.



    I wouldn't be so rude as to say you missed the point, because in a certain sense or perspective, you have not missed the point at all. However, you may be seeing only a small part of the big picture. Hopefully, I may have helped to un-crop your mind a little in this matter (my appologies for my sense of humour)

  10. #110
    Senior Member Country: UK Brief Encounter's Avatar
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    I'm wondering - was it a commercial success when released? How was it perceived by audiences at the time?

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    I seem to remember reading somewhere that Lean and co. gave an advance screening of Brief Encounter in Rochester whilst filming Great Expectations. It seems that the crowd wasn't attuned to the tortured romance of BE and laughed at Alec's agonised attempts to get Laura into bed.



    Critics seemed to be more impressed, though. Both Celia Johnson and David Lean were nominated for Oscars, and the film picked up gongs in Cannes and New York. Whether or not this critical success was mirrored at the box ffice I don't know.

  12. #112
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    I heard a story that Roger Livesey was offered Trevor Howard's role in Brief Encounter. Does anyone know if that is true??

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevie boy
    I heard a story that Roger Livesey was offered Trevor Howard's role in Brief Encounter. Does anyone know if that is true??


    According to a Trevor Howard bio I'm reading at the moment by Terence Pettigrew, Noel Coward "had no clear cut choice for Alec, but believed that Roger Livesey would do an excellent job". David Lean couldn't see Livesey as a romantic hero and wanted an unknown. Lean spotted Trevor Howard, by chance, during a screening of a rough cut of The Way to the Stars. When Lean re-screened the film for Coward, Noel stopped the film after Howard's character was killed off and said "well done, let's look no more".

  14. #114
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    BRIEF ENCOUNTER played well in Guildford, but was not booked to cinemas in working class areas (known as 'industrial halls'), where they prefered Frank Randle .



    The Carlton DVD has a good doc on the film's reception, with an interview with Ronald Neame.....

  15. #115
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    I just had to find the topic on this film.... Caught this on tv recently and got hooked. It also made me fall in love with Rachmaninov's concerto #2.



    I did wonder at the end of the film though - how much do you think Fred really knew? "Thank you for coming back to me" could be interpreted all sorts of ways.

  16. #116
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    I can't wait for the Blue Ray to be released in the next couple of months in the UK. A must buy for me.

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
    Both Fred and Laura appear to be from middle class families...
    That's like saying that the Pope appears to be a Catholic!

  18. #118
    Senior Member Country: UK Windyridge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yorksshirepud View Post



    The scenes in the tearoom are wonderful with Joyce Carey behind the counter and Stanley Holloway as Albert the Porter .Love some of their dialogue
    "Hi"m h'afraid h'i can't stand here wasting mai time with h'idle gossip, thankyouverymuch. Berr-ill!"

  19. #119

  20. #120
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    Wonderful film....I've always loved it!!

    It reminds me of an England that sadly no longer exists!!

    Josie x
    Last edited by Josie52; 15-12-10 at 03:04 PM.

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