Friday 4 March 2011

An Open Letter To Icon Home Entertainment

Dear Sir / Madam,

The other day I sat down to watch my recently-purchased DVD of one of my favourite films from last year, Buried. It really is very good, I recommend you watch it. I'm assuming you haven't yet because that's the only explanation I can think of for you releasing it IN THE WRONG ASPECT RATIO.

FYI, Buried was shot in 2.35:1 by award-winning director of photography Eduard Grau, who also shot A Single Man ("Every frame is an aesthete's fine-grained high-polish dream" - I imagine he knows what he's doing, don't you? When Buried's director Rodrigo Cortés asked Grau to shoot his film set entirely inside a horizontal coffin, I can't imagine it was a matter of much debate whether to shoot it in what could fairly be described as the coffinesque 2.35:1 or the, shall we say, less coffinesque TV-friendly 1.77:1 in which the DVD version is presented. He probably didn't even need to consult this section of the Cinematographer's Handbook:
I'm also curious as to why there is no Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack on the DVD. Initially I cursed my decoder for its inability to process DTS but then I remembered that pretty much EVERY SINGLE DVD EVER RELEASED has a Dolby Digital track, especially one with such complex sound design as Buried.

Can I recommend a couple of things? First, in future, if you're unable to release a DVD in the correct aspect ratio, don't release it at all until you can. I know you think most people don't care, and you might be right, but it's an insult to those that do and to the artists who created the film to spunk out a panned and scanned travesty of the original vision.

Second, I trust that when a proper video transfer and a Dolby Digital soundtrack are available and you re-release Buried, anyone who wants to can swap their inferior, infuriatingly cropped version for the new release free of charge.

In the meantime, despite having told everyone who reads my award-nominated-but-not-quite-winning blog how amazing Buried is, I'll be advising them not to buy it on DVD or Blu-ray until there's a version out there that does justice to the film, because this isn't it.

Please feel free to respond at this email address.

Many thanks,
The Incredible Suit


  1. I was actually planning on buying it (having not had chance to see it at the cinema). I wont buy it now until it's been released in its true aspect ratio.

  2. Is it panned and scanned or just showing more of the available image on the top and bottom?

  3. Though I should add that the film should be in the aspect ratio of the photographer and director of course, but just interested.

    Gosford Park is cropped on dvd too.

  4. Pan and Scan I'm afraid.

  5. Holy fuck, that's atrocious. I was really looking forward to getting this too- Buried is brilliant. I'll stave it off now though. Bastards.

  6. I saw Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' (1979) Aspect Ratio:
    2.35 : 1 Panavision Anamorphic in the cinema. The film has many beautiful wide shots where the whole frame is used to contain the action in a single shot. There was a long tracking shot of 4 characters in conversation on a walk. The important thing was not the person speaking but the reaction on the faces of the others. To my utter dismay when I saw this movie on TV that shot was presented as a series of panned and scanned two shots left or right and the whole essence of the scene was destroyed. In the cinema I saw an exterior static shot of an apartment with glass walls where you could see characters upstairs and downstairs at the same time. Again on TV this was served up as a series of different panned and scanned shots which ruined the drama and made Woody Allen look like a bad director.

    I was as outraged when I saw that as The Incredible Suit is about Buried.

    The trouble is that some people viewing a letter box on their 1.77:1 (16:9) TV will think that the black areas mean they are being ripped off beccause they are not getting a full screen for their money. Don't even try to explain aspect ratios to them.

  7. Icon will bury your letter; then one day when it is too late someone will read it and say "I'm sorry Suit, I'm so sorry."

  8. Did you contact Icon and ask them about it?

  9. I hate when they do that... there have been a couple of films that have done that. I just reviewed the film on my site the other day, but it was just about the film, not the DVD or specs.

    Thanks for the lookout.

  10. Irritatingly the DVD & Blu-ray releases also don't include the previously announced commentary from Cortés which I'm sure would have been an interesting listen.

  11. Who's up for a petition then? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.

  12. This cropping on DVDs is so serious that the cinema films should have to be renamed for DVD release.
    The Magnificent Six
    One Mule For Sister Mary
    The Dirty Eleven
    Twenty Three Hour Party People
    27 Days
    126 Hours
    100 Dalmatians
    632 Squadron
    2000 A Space Odyssy
    19000 Leagues Under The Sea

  13. Marge Gunderson5 March 2011 at 23:27

    That is so wrong. Thanks for the heads up Mr Suit.