Full-screen Dvd's Shouldn't Even Exist!


I picked up a movie tonight that I’ve wanted to own on DVD for a while. I’m very selective about what movies I choose to purchase, as I generally will only watch a film once a year or so even if I really love it, so I can always just rent it or get it from Netflix.

When I espied the movie in the store, I grabbed it and examined it - “Collector’s Edition,” blah blah blah - and bought it.

Came home, ripped it open, popped it in - and IT’S FULLSCREEN. I look over the cover, and in grey print on black it says “Full Screen.”


Of course I can’t find the receipt. Even if I could, most stores will only allow you to exchange opened DVD’s for the exact same thing, so I probably couldn’t even exchange the fucking thing if I had the receipt!


Fullscreen DVD’s SHOULD NOT EVEN EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! The only reason that they exist is that many consumers are too stupid to realize that the black bars are not “blocking” parts of the picture that they would be seeing otherwise, and that the exact opposite is true - “Full Screen” (talk about a fucking semantic game!) DVD’s chop off the sides of the picture and then resort to awkward, jittery pans when this is a problem (approximately every seven seconds).


When you go to buy a new CD, the racks aren’t cluttered up with a bunch of Mono editions because people are too stupid to tell the difference between mono and stereo. Books don’t default to large print and regular print, leaving the customer to determine the difference when choosing. It’s FUCKING STUPID that DVD’s are often available in both regular and screwed and chopped editions.


I refuse to buy fullscreen DVDs. The Silence of the Lambs and The Big Lebowski catch my eye everytime I browse the DVD racks at Target, but they only stock the fullscreen versions. You have to be really careful at Target, actually; there have been a couple times where I’ve picked up an armful of DVDs only to set them all down upon finding out they’re fullscreen. It’s now part of my normal routine to check on the back.

I once lost a little bit of respect for a friend when she said that she hated widescreen movies because they waste the upper and lower bits of her TV. I personally don’t understand why fullscreen DVDs are made, although there seems to be a market for them among the great unwashed masses. Am I a snob? Sure. Am I also a film student? Yes. :stuck_out_tongue: :cool:

It was Lebowski, and at Target, that caused this!!!

The thing is, I don’t even consider it being a “snob” - shouldn’t it be the NORM to want to see the full picture of a movie, which is a moving picture? To buy a fullscreen DVD would be like purchasing an apple with half of it missing, or to buy a book with no covers. It just doesn’t even make sense to do so.

Hah! No kidding! I guess you really do have to be careful at Target.

My snob comment was actually referring to me losing some respect for my friend after she had said that. (The weird thing is that she’s an artist–a violist, as well as an amateur in many types of visual art. Why is she so indifferent about altering/ruining another artist’s vision?)

Here in Australia, they rarely have fullscreen even available at all, let alone the default version. It’s pretty much all widescreen, all the time.

Unless they don’t come in widescreen anyway, like older movies.

Even odder, some movies are only available in Pan & Scan versions. For instance, Last Night, a terrific movie I’d love to have in my collection if I could see it properly. And, for Pete’s sake, Forbidden Planet; the best science fiction movie of the 1950’s, shot in (if I recall) Cinerama, is only available in a bare-bones Pan & Scan DVD. (Why haven’t they produced a really good edition, with special features and whatnot?)

Actually, I wish the DVDs would be labeled “Pan & Scan”; “Fullscreen” makes it sound like you’re getting more instead of less.

While we’re on the subject – why the Hell doesn’t HBO show movies in widescreen? Their own series, like “Deadwood”, are shown that way, so why not the movies?

With the popularity of wide-screen tv’s, I hope that this problem will go away.

Who was supposed to give VC03 his valium this today?

Well, while I agree with your premise, it’s your own fault for not looking carefully.

I’ve decided that was needlessly snarky. Though you really MUST look carefully. as I too hate pan & scan, I assume that any DVD I’m renting may be recorded that way and check each one. It’s the same principle I use to avoid Martin Lawrence movies.

Does anyone know how DVD’s display on the new TV screens with the widescreen aspect ratio? Do they have bars on the sides for pan-and-scan pictures?

All I want is whatever I’m watching to be presented in the way it was originally released or broadcast. For movies these days, that means widescreen in any number of aspect ratios. If I’m getting Citizen Kane or Casablanca, that means academy. If I’m watching Dr. Strangelove, I’m expecting the format to change throughout the movie. If it’s the latest release of The Simpsons, again I expect 4:3. If it’s Stargate SG-1 or something from HBO, I expect it in widescreen. If I’m getting a foreign film, I want the original language with no overlays or similar tricks (anime releases used to be really bad about this) and good subtitles as well as the original aspect ratio. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Count me as one of the backwards luddite freaks who doesn’t like the obnoxiously large black bars at the top and bottom of the picture. I don’t buy a movie to see the “full movie”, I get it to see a show - and if that can be accomplished in a full-screen format that makes full use of the viewing area of my TV screen, then GOOD. :slight_smile:

Some of us can’t afford (or don’t want) to buy a wide screen TV just for the sake of watching movies on. I submit the possibility that the full-screen movies are a legitimate response to this significant portion of the public.

Also, it’s pretty annoying when I watch a wide screen DVD, those black bars are a visual reminder that I’m not doing enough to support my country’s burgeoning trade deficit by engaging in mindless consumerism like a junkie. About the only thing they’re good for, IMNSHO, is a place to put subtitles into.

I’ve done it at Best Buy. I just came in (with receipt, though) and said I bought this dvd, but intended to get widescreen and I didn’t notice until I cracked it open. They were cool with it and let me go get the widescreen version. Did you pay with a debit or credit card? If so, Target should have the purchase in their system so you can give that a try.

I feel you pain, brother.

In response to the “it’s your fault for not checking,” I can only say, I hope you never make a mistake, because, if you do, you’ll have no right to complain, after all, it will have been your fault for not doing “x.” Even when it’s silly for you to have to do “x.”

Sometimes the movies in your collection are not movies that you actually purchase. Here in 2006 we have this custom called gift giving. We roll it out at least twice a year (more if you’re married, have sired or borne offspring, etc.). My mother and my wife, bless both their generous souls, know very well my movie tatstes and so, when the time comes, they try to get me DVDs they know I will like. What they are not as attuned to is the difference between full and widescreen formats. It sucketh verily to receive as a gift a movie you really want in a format you really don’t, only to realize it after openinng it in your excitement. My sudden disappointment was palpable.

On a related note, my TV has a 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s my understanding that most movies are filmed in a 1.8:1 aspect ration. My DVD player will “make the movie fit.” There is no panning, even if a bit of the movie has been trimmed, it’s not enough to require panning. My question: has my movie been clipped at the edges or has it been “stretched”?

Do I have to call you a luddite freak? That seems really mean, and I’m trying to be 20% less evil today.


I don’t buy a movie to see the “full movie”, I get it to see a show - and if that can be accomplished in a full-screen format that makes full use of the viewing area of my TV screen, then GOOD. :slight_smile:

The thing is, a lot of movies–any well-shot picture, I’d say, to leave out flicks directed by Chris Columbus–lose a great deal in pan & scan. To name a fairly mediocre flick for which this is true, check out Men in Black. The scene near the end, when the giant bug is sneaking up on Jay and Kay, doesn’t make a bit of sense in pan & scan; the scene is so constructed that, in the proper aspect ratio, you can see the bug but can understand why the agents cannot.

Any movie constructed on a large scale looks better and is more comprehensible in widescreen.


Within something like the next 6 years, all t.v. will be broadcast in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Get used to those bars.

I am a big fan of widescreen editons, and have been for quite awhile. It did take me a little time to get used to the boxes, but it was well worth it. I have learned to check whenever I buy a movie. My favorite dvds actually offer the choice of both.

Roger Ebert gave a wonderful illustration of what a viewer misses with the pan and scan variety of video. He used a clip of a fight scene from Spartacus to illustrate what was missed with a full screen edition. He then used clips from various other movies to back up his claim. The loss of perspective was amazing. Characters who looked like they were talking to nobody, were suddenly having conversations with other characters, and we got to see their facial responses to what was being said. With the Spartacus clip, an entire conversation with two other characters was completely cut out, when the pan and scan fixated on the fight in the background. That can be alot to miss.

On a widescreen TV you can pick whether you want side bars, or zoom, or stretching. Some offer lots of different ways to stretch. My parents have this huge widescreen TV and they always watch TV on it with all the people squished. Drives me nuts. My dad refuses not to use every piece of real estate and they say there’s no difference. Aaargh!

If he’s using “all the real estate,” the people should be strecthed not squished. Anyway, that applies to a 4:3 signal coming to a 16:9 tv.* That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about an 1.8:1 to a 16:9. This “making it fit” is done by my DVD player, not my tv.

  • when you watch a movie in letterbox on a 4:3 tv, you’re seeing a 4:3 picture, it’s just that a lot of it is black. When you watch a movie in letterbox on a 16:9 tv, the same thing happens, and you stretch it to fit (in a variety of ways – I think my tv has five options). BUT, my dvd player is giving my tv a 16:9 picture, much the same way an HDTV broadcast does. Everyone is in proportion – no stretching. Thing is, HDTV is filmed at 16:9, movies are not.