Which movies should NEVER be shown in pan and scan?

Okay, I know all films should be shown in their original format, but let’s face it, a lot of films wouldn’t suffer that greatly from having their image cropped. There are, however, a lot of films that ‘lose’ quite a lot in pan and scan format. Examples:

American Beauty. Some of the most evocative use of simple household sets I’ve ever seen. I can’t even imagine a cropped version of the dining room, or the painfully symmetric living room in the neighbours’ house. Hands off this one.

Unbreakable. This film has some of the most beautiful framing in history. Shyamalan (whatever his flaws in storytelling and character building may be) evokes the separate frames of comic books in ways that make me wish Ang Lee had been inspired by this film before making cough Hulk. The pan and scan version is a crime against humanity, and if it had been up to me, I would have returned the video.

Road to Perdition, for basically the same reasons, combined with some simply beautiful sets. “Majestic” doesn’t work well in pan and scan.

These are just a few off the top of my head. Any more that come to mind?

Any of the Wes Anderson films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenenbaums). Anderson arranges each frame so perfectly that it would lose so much to see it in pan and scan.

Films shot in 1:85 ratio are usually soft-matted, where they are actually shot in 1:33 (or TV-sized) and then matted with those “black bars” for theatrical release. These films tend not to suffer too badly when presented in full-frame on video, since you’re seeing all the information intended and then some.

Then there’s the Super 35 format, where again, the film is shot at a 1:33 ratio and then matted down to the “widescreen” ratio of 2:35. These movies, when presented 1:33 on video, tend to look a bit off and not really presented correctly, but again, you’re seeing all the image you’re supposed to see and then some, so you’re not missing out on anything. A good example is “Gangs Of New York”; compare the film on the DVD (widescreen) with the teaser trailer (full-frame) and its apparent that they filmed in Super 35 and chopped the top and bottom of the screen away for a 2:35 ratio.

2:35 anamorphic films are the ones that have to have 2/3rds of their image chopped away in order to fill a TV screen. These films should NEVER be presented in anything other than their original widescreen framing. I love it when people say “I want my whole TV screen filled up” without realizing that they’re losing 2/3rds of the movie in order to do so.

All right, now I’ll answer the question! I think that no 2:35 anamorphic film should ever be panned-and-scanned, simply because of the fact that you’re losing image. 1:85 and 2:35 Super 35 movies, however, can be acceptable in full-frame versions if they’re done properly. I say “acceptable” only because I prefer to have the original ratio whenever possible, but sometimes do settle for the full-frame (American Pie 1 and 2, for instance, actually look more proportionate and balanced in their full-frame versions)

When I was a kid I thought “pan and scan” was a camera technique. I remember watching “Westworld” and thinking, “Wow! How do they move the camera like that?”.

2001: A Space Odyssey


Absolutely. Who would watch Ran in Pan and Scan?

(I’m so sorry. I couldn’t resist :D)

I’d say Kenneth Branaugh’s Hamlet, all the Lord of the rings movies, and any David Lean film.

This is Cinerama. What’s the point?

My answer tends to be “all of them, save perhaps for soft-matted films” as described by Keith Berry.

But the shorter answer is two words: Ben Hur, specifically the chariot race. In its original aspect ratio, it’s magnificent; in pan-and-scan, it’s totally incomprehensible.

Laurence of Arabia


The Shining



(a few will understand)

Blue Velvet

Lion in Winter. The scene between Richard and what-his-name, the boy king of France, SUCKS on video. There is so much back-and-forth and intense personal interaction that you really have to be able to see both parties–and you CAN’T! Dang it.

Yeah! What I want to know is when they’re going to release the wide-screen versions of Casablanca, Citizen Kane, or The Wizard of Oz. Do you think a mass e-mailing to the movie companies would do any good?

LOL good one! :slight_smile:

I really hate watching Lord of the Rings or any Star Wars movie in pan-and-scan. For Star Wars, you get an opening crawl that has to go 2/3 of the way up the screen before you can even read it. And for LOTR, there are 9 rings given to only 5 kings of men.

I’m told that in pan-and-scan, the title of this movie becomes “en Hu.”

Dont’ know about the others (except I seem to recall that petitions in favor of something do no good).

BUT, I’m quite sure that it will be the proverbial cold day when D*sney releases an unedited Fantasia (with the Pastoral scene intact). Rumor has it that even the print given to the Simthsonian is edited to remove the “pickaninney” centaurette.