[f_minor] Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

Robert Merkin bobmerk at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 31 12:53:31 PDT 2012

We're straying from our Comfort Zone of remarkable musical expertise into somebody else's realm, motion picture directors and cinematographers.

The short answer is that theatrical release movies (and precious little art-house cinemas) are designed entirely for the rectangular height/width ratio of the "big screen." 

Television began to appear in households in the early 1950s. Ever since, moviemakers have tried everything imaginable to get people off their living room sofa and back into the movie theaters. Some visual gimmicks came and went quickly, but a half-dozen were popular enough to endure and leave many theaters -- particularly in big cities -- with their characteristic big aspect-ratio screens.

But what's common to all movie formats is that they all suffer badly when the original "shape" of the movie is compressed, chopped and distorted to fit the little TV box. Yes, in the last decade, home TVs have become larger and fancier (and you pay a spectacular price for them). But the best and most serious movie-makers make their movies for the theatrical-release movie theater screen. That's the canvas directors and cinematographers dream of. They regard subsequent TV broadcasts as an ugly little fact of life that's unfortunate, but not their concern.

The classic answer to respecting a visually good movie when it's squeezed into the TV screen format is Letterboxing: top-and-bottom black borders which shrink the film, but maintain the original theatrical-release aspect ratio.

But mainly, if you admire a film -- a subtle arte-house cinema or a superspectacular sci-fi space opera -- do yourself a favor and see it on a theater screen the director and cinematographer intended it to be shown on. No matter how big and fancy your home TV is, it can't reproduce the visual experience the moviemakers intended.

btw I love "Thirty Two Short Films ...", saw it originally in my town's Arte House, but it doesn't suffer badly on TV, because it's not a visual movie, it's an actors' and playwright's movie. (If I remember correctly, no high-speed car chases through Toronto, no shootouts.) "My Dinner with Andre" is also fine for home viewing, nothing is lost.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lancaster, Mark T 
  To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. 
  Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 2:43 PM
  Subject: Re: [f_minor] Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

  I'll take the black bars and the full picture as intended by the director over a chopped off picture that fills my TV every time. I've never understood what bothers people about the black bars. Why zoom in on the full picture and leave things unseen at top and bottom, or on the sides? (that's meant to be a rhetorical  question, unless someone does care to speak to why arbitrarily filling a given televisions screen is more important than seeing the picture the creator intended).




  From: f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org [mailto:f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org] On Behalf Of Carl D. Patterson
  Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 4:47 AM
  To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
  Subject: Re: [f_minor] Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould




  I own a copy of the Columbia Tristar version of 32 that I bought from Amazon.com in 1995. The disc is a little strange in that it is double sided. Side A has the 1.85:1 version and Side B is the 4:3 version.


  I've just looked at a section of the film and have taken a few photos:




  It looks as if the film was made in 4:3 ratio and that the 16:9 ratio version is just the 4:3 zoomed in. If you watch the full 'widescreen' version you'll be missing parts of the top and bottom of the frame. If you watch the square 4:3 version you'll be seeing the full frame, as the director intended, but you'll have black bars.


  At least with the copy that I have you have a choice. We'll just have to see what the re-issue is like.





  On 29 Mar 2012, at 12:51, Pat wrote:

  Hi all


  I can confirm that 32 will see a european release, the movie is now available for preorder at Amazon Germany:




  Release date is April 13th, price is 16 Euros.


  One aspect that irritates me is the aspect ratio. Let us hope these specs are incorrect. 4:3 or 1.33:1 are outdated really and might look quite ugly on newer TV sets and it would be a crying shame if a "critically acclaimed cult movie" would be released without visual and sonic updates adjusted to the 21st Century.



  From: Pat 

  Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:15 PM

  To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. 

  Subject: Re: [f_minor] Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould


  Hi all

  I was able to track down the press blurb on the swiss site of Sony Music:



  Unfortunetly GoogleBing does not allow me to find this DVD in the context of sonymusic.com but you will get the idea.


  This means 2 things: If it is on the swiss site, then there must be a european release as well (Code 2) which gives me the opportunity to say YAY ! European DVD premiere after whatsmany years !

  (But if this should end up as another import without extras then I think I will be very cross and dissapointed)


  The scan on the site of Amazon is incorrect, the new cover looks closer to the CBC box set. I wonder what is on that re-release and hope they added a few extras and improved image quality. That low US price makes one susupcious however and Sony CH doesn't cough up a local price for a comparison yet.


  Since 32 was rarely shown on TV and the subsequent DVD release was sold for prices close to a bank bailout, I urge those of you who never had a chance to see 32 to get a copy now.


  Despite its age it is still worth watching and while it may have its flaws 32 is much more enjoyable than some of the recent releases about GG if I may add my grain of salt here.




  From: DJ Were-Panda 

  Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 7:19 PM

  To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. 

  Subject: Re: [f_minor] Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould


  Mark, I think the subject floated by a few weeks ago, but it's always good to have reminders. :) Thanks for the heads up!










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