11 thoughts on “Gotta Run, There’s a Thing”

  1. You’re interviewing the ghost of Stanley Kubrick? Cool! Ask him if he rolled over in his grave when Warner Bros. shaved a sliver off the top and bottom of Barry Lyndon to crop it from 1.66:1 to 1.78:1 for the Blu-ray. 🙂

  2. As it happens, I’ll be talking to Leon Vitali, so hopefully I’ll get an answer … though I suspect that answer will be something along the lines of “Shut up, it fills the frame.”

    Is it terribly nerdy of me that all I want to do is ask aspect-ratio questions of an authoritative source? (Don’t answer that. We both know it is.)

  3. Sadly, I wouldn’t consider Vitali authoritative about anything technical like this. He’s contradicted himself on this aspect ratio issue over the years. He used to say that Kubrick wanted everything 4:3, then it was 1.66:1, and now he’s defending Warner’s choice of 1.78:1 for Barry Lyndon.

    Back in the early part of this decade, he also made some shockingly ignorant statements about Kubrick never wanting any of his movies to be anamorphically enhanced on DVD. Vitali clearly didn’t understand what the term meant (he seemed to think it was somehow like changing a camera lens after the movie was already completed), but argued defiantly about it anyway.

  4. Meant to add that Barry Lyndon is the movie where Kubrick famously demanded that every theater playing it be equipped with 1.66:1 matte boxes for the projectors, even though that was never a standard in North America. Of all of his movies, this is one where we can be absolutely certain of his aspect ratio preference. It’s weird that Warner cropped this one, when the Blu-rays for both Lolita and Clockwork Orange are pillarboxed to 1.66:1.

    With all the said, the Blu-ray looks perfectly fine at 1.78:1. But I doubt anyone is the perfectionist that Stanley Kubrick was.

  5. Aspect ratio is all well and good; I’m more concerned about the fact that Barry Lyndon’s latest release has no additional features other than a trailer. Kubrick scholars are crawling out of the woodwork and Lyndon was apparently a difficult shoot. Isn’t there somebody involved willing to talk about it? Jan Harlan maybe? Or Ryan O’Neal, if he gets parole?

  6. Well, it can be argued that Kubrick himself didn’t like “behind the scenes” details about his films to be known to the public. He thought that sort of thing ruined the illusion of cinema.

    Kubrick made the Criterion Collection recall its first Laserdisc edition of Dr. Strangelove because the disc included an early draft of the script that differed from the finished movie. The disc was reissued without that extra. The only supplements that Kubrick authorized were contextual information about the Cold War. (Likewise, the Criterion LD for 2001 only offered features about the space race, but nothing about the actual making of the movie.)

  7. @Josh- Point taken. But the supplements for The Shining and even Full Metal Jacket were so rich with outside commentaries, I was hoping we’d get something more for Lyndon. It met a decidedly lukewarm reception upon first release, but has grown in stature, you’d think somebody would have wanted to take a crack at that phenomena…

  8. Heresy though it may be, Barry Lyndon bores me senseless. It’s the only Kubrick movie I just don’t like at all.

  9. Glenn Kenny, who was also at the press day, asked Vitali about the “Barry Lyndon” aspect ratio head-on, and writes about it here:


    Also of potential interest, Vitali says that Universal’s hideous BD of “Spartacus” is the one disc in the collection with which he had nothing to do, since Kubrick distanced himself from the film in the early 1990s.

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