Re: Letterbox vs reformatted

Jeffrey Pearson (
Sun, 22 Mar 1998 12:44:39 -0800

What you are usually missing out on is one or more of the actors, not to
mention the directors' artistic statement if he/she is trying to make one.

As film librarian for an academic library I always buy letterboxed videos
because that is what the film faculty wants. I notice that letterboxing is
becoming more common for videotape (as compared to just laserdisc) and I am
buying that too. Personally, I am thrilled to see a letterboxed image, even
on a dinky TV. There is, however, a letterbox "bandwagon" that distributors
are hopping on that may result in defeating a director's intent. I read an
interview with the Coen brothers where they were suprised when an
interviewer informed them that a letterboxed version of "Raising Arizona"
was being released on laserdisc, stating that they did not shoot it wide
and had no intention of it being see that way. The idea that distributors
are masking films just to sell more product is just as bad as pan and scan.

-Jeff Pearson
Wayne State University Libraries in Detroit

At 01:52 PM 3/20/98 -0800, you wrote:
>Please help me here. Don't most people own normal TV sets? As an
>individual, nothing is more irritating to me than to rent a movie and
>get it home and find out it is "letterbox." I want my whole screen
>filled up with picture. What am I supposedly missing out on?
>Oh, we don't purposely order any titles in Letterbox here at CSUS.
>Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998 13:40:45 -0800
>From: Myles Jaeschke <>
>To: Multiple recipients of list <>
>Subject: Re: Letterbox vs reformatted
>I just joined this list and already interesting topic! When a video is
>available both ways, I don't even consider "pan and scan". Our system
>is medium-large--23 branches and 1 central library. When I order
>videos, some of the other branches attach to my order so, they too get
>what I order. (Widescreen) If a title is "letterboxed" our catalogers
>specify in the record if the title is "letterboxed". If it is not
>letterboxed then no notation is made.
>In short, educate the public, buy "Widescreen"!
>Hope this helps,
>Myles Jaeschke
>Film Librarian
>Tulsa City-County Library

Jeffrey Pearson
Collections Librarian
Wayne State University
David Adamany Undergraduate Library
Detroit, Michigan 48202
(313) 577-4480 (voice)
(313) 577-5265 (fax) (email)