I admit that my comportment during the recent online debate concerning the aspect ratio of Stanley Kubrick's 1975 Barry Lyndon and its new Blu-ray version was not always entirely pleasant or reasonable, or that it yielded entirely reliable findings. This is the sort of thing that can happen when one allows one's (entirely understandable, I'd say) desire to tweak Jeff Wells to override concerns of etiquette and/or common sense. I did try to employ due diligence in my research and turned up some documentation supporting a 1.77 or so aspect ratio, and I did ask for other citations that would demonstrate otherwise.
And now I have a document that should clear up quite a bit with respect to Kubrick's desires and intentions: a letter to projectionists signed by Kubrick. It came to me through the courtesy and kindness of screenwriter and critic Jay Cocks, who writes: "I knew Stanley pretty well for a while, but at the time of the Time Barry Lyndon cover I was in LA beginning preliminary work on Gangs of New York. So I had no hand in the Time cover, but still managed to let Stanley know how great I thought the movie was. He replied with his usual gracious, funny note and enclosed this letter, because he thought I'd be interested. Bet you will be too."
Indeed. I thank Mr. Cocks. And I reproduce the letter below.
I shared this document with a representative of Warner Home Video, who responded, "We stand firmly that we are 100% in compliance with Mr. Kubrick's wishes and edict" and that "the letter from Kubrick to projectionists was the reference for our 1.78 aspect ratio call."
UPDATE: Playing Hardcastle to my McCormick, Jeff Wells tracks down Kubrick aide de camp Leon Vitali and receives a detailed response that's well worth reading; check it out here. Nice work, Jeff.