by Tom Stockman
From the silent movie era into the early 1930s, the standard aspect ratio of Hollywood films was 1.33:1, a ratio developed by cinema pioneer Thomas Edison. Early in the “talkie” era, when the soundtrack was added to the side of the film frame, the width of the image was reduced even more, creating a more square-shaped picture. Since the early 1950s, most movies have been filmed in a process where the width of the visual frame is between 1.85 to 2.4 times greater than the height. This means that for every inch of visual height, the frame as projected on the screen is between 1.85 to 2.4 times as wide. This results in a panoramic view that can add a greater breadth and perception of the environment and mood of a movie. The rise in popularity of television is credited with inciting the motion picture’s move to the widescreen systems that flourished throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Today, with widescreen and large format TVs, moviegoers are hardly expected to get excited about seeing a film in ‘widescreen’, as most DVDs are presented in the same aspect ratio they were originally screened. The folks at the Webster University’s Film Series are beginning a featured series this weekend they’re calling Taking it all in: Classic Widescreen Cinema where they are showing, on their big screen at Winifred Moore Auditorium, nine classic films that once impressed audiences with their outstretched images.
All nine films are shown at Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium.
$6 for the general public
$5 for seniors, Webster alumni and students from other schools
$4 for Webster University staff and faculty
Free for Webster students with proper I.D.
The Webster University Film Series site can be found HERE
West Side Story
Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise, 1961, USA, 152 min.
Sunday, January 20 at 7:30 pm
The winner of 10 Academy Awards, this 1961 musical by choreographer Jerome Robbins and director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music) remains irresistible. Based on a smash Broadway play updating Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the 1950s era of juvenile delinquency, the film stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers from different neighborhoods–and ethnicities. The film’s real selling points, however, are the highly charged and inventive song-and-dance numbers, the passionate ballads, the moody sets, colorful support from Rita Moreno, and the sheer accomplishment of Hollywood talent and technology producing a film so stirring. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim wrote the score.