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May 23, 2011


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As an aside, I'd long noticed the porcine-themed 'Animal Farm' poster behind Takeshi Kaneshiro in 'Chungking Express' but only just now has it struck me that the other actor in this scene is called... PIGGY Chan.

Michael Dempsey

Very happy to learn that the sublime "Barry Lyndon", Stanley Kubrick's supreme achievement and my own favorite film, has come through the Blu-Ray process undiminished.

As for Leonard Rossiter, I think his characterization of the twisted, cowardly, weirdly intense Captain John Quin (aptly summarized in the frame above) is fantastically witty but also, at moments,("I never was more in earnest") genuinely affecting.

Scott Nye

Thanks for clearing this up, Glenn, and for being the bearer of good news. I don't know where the other screencaps came from, but I'd be dishonest if I said they didn't send me into a mild panic. I'd be buying the Blu either way, because I'm not terribly predictable in how I spend my money except where Terrence Malick and Barry Lyndon are concerned, but it's good to know I'll finally have the version I've been waiting the better part of a decade for.

As long as we're here, how's the image look? Your photos are encouraging, but as these things go, I know they don't tell the whole story.


Smoke, meet gun. Nicely done, sir.


In reference to our website, you seem to have overlooked the fact that you have posted a thumbnail of our article, used as part of our lay-out. If you would have carefully examined the article, you would have noticed the full screenshots near the bottom of the article - these have not been cropped.

Furthermore, the aspect-ratio on this release is 1.78:1, and I don't see any way to dispute this - certainly not by posting blurry photos of a television set.

Kind regards,

A BluBrew administrator.

The Siren

Just popping in to say this was hilarious.

And beating a hasty retreat, before someone challenges you to plasma screens at twenty paces and I get named as your second. Blu-Rays for two, breakfast for one...

Glenn Kenny

To a BluBrew administrator: Some commenters on the Criterion Forum have been using the thumbnails for reference as well, which may be where some misunderstanding comes in.

"I don't see any way to dispute this—certainly not by posting blurry photos of a television set." Wow, that hurt. Except one actually watches discs on a television set, is the thing. And if I get out my tape measure, I can mark off the points of the borders wherein the picture is recessed, in the manner of the "Chungking Express" disc. If the "Chungking Express" disc, too, is 1.78:1 rather than 1.66 as advertised, then we've got something to take up with Criterion. Kind regards right back to you.


I too have the disc to hand and can confirm what Glen is saying. God god knows what Wells and BluBrew are going on about.

Pinko Punko


I'm not sure you know the answer to this. Is the J. Wells we see revealed now, well since ~2008, the same J. Wells as always, only it just wasn't apparent, it is this an evolution of J. Wells?

I'm not being facetious. Do you even know? As the go to in the contrarian Wells contrarianism- and there is clearly a version of him in your head that for which you imagine responses to various things- I mean who doesn't- sandal wearers, loud laughers, party elephants, people walking exceptionally duck like, troll-like statements of absolute truth about obviously subjective stuff, hyperbolic language- they all bring JW to mind- what is the deal on him? Can you at least jokingly in your mind conceive of a Premiere Arnold-style full disclosure non-hit piece "hit piece" about JW?

An audience of a few dozen (or more?????) would be fascinated.

The Fanciful Norwegian

Comparing the full BluBrew capture of the duel shot to your photograph, the BluBrew image is actually less cropped -- the difference is especially noticeable on the right side, but the frame in your photo is missing information on all four sides. Does the shot have a zoom or dolly that would explain the framing differences between the two pictures? If not, the only other explanations are a) BluBrew actually has a different disc with a different encode and different framing (theoretically possible if they have a review copy, but not likely), or b) there's a calibration issue here. BluBrew's captures would've been taken directly from the actual video stream as encoded on the disc, so the framing in their caps is definitely an accurate representation of what's on their copy.

Glenn Kenny

@The Fanciful Norwegian: The shot is stationary. It's the opening shot of the film, depicting the duel in which the title character's father is killed. The set is a Hitachi 50-inch plasma display with...aha, two different "16x9 standard" aspect ratio settings, one and two. I had it on the first for the shot. In the second setting there's a bit of a zoom-out effect, that is, more picture information is revealed. However, the actual framing remains the same.

Joel E

Glenn, you're always going to be asking for it from the AV nerds if you're posting this photos of your TV as some sort of proof of the aspect ratio. They're not even in proper perspective, and honestly I can't see what you're trying to illustrate by showing various stills from various discs. No offense, but the photos are so dark and lo-res I can't really tell if there's any difference in aspect ratio between the examples.

Regardless, I went over to BluBrew (seriously guys, who came up with that site name?) and their screen grab (http://blubrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/barrylyndon1.jpg) definitely measures to 1.78:1 and it appears to be cropped similar to your example, so it certainly looks like the BluBrew reviewer is correct.

But seriously, "BluBrew?"

Glenn Kenny

Well, Joel, as I said, I'm not gonna mark up the front of my display with crop marks. The shots are not AV-nerd quality, no, and that's kind of the point; they're off of a screen, as one might actually see if one were watching a disc on a display. I don't have much of a problem discerning the "Raging Bull" still as slightly wider than the two shots intended to be illustrative of a 1.66 frame, but maybe I've been looking at them too long or something. I'm saying two things: as seen on my personal display, the picture of a disc that was erroneously labeled as being 1.85 matches up perfectly, framing-wise, with a disc that is I presume accurately labeled 1.66. Now there are different ways of achieving the 1.66 ratio. There's the one cited by Williamson, which centers the image. That's what the "Lyndon" disc looks like to me. There's black space surrounding the frame that isn't there on the left and right sides of the screen when playing the 2.35 disc of "The Holy Mountain" on one hand, and isn't on the tops and bottoms of the frames of the 1.33 (as opposed to 1.37 ratio) disc of "Diabolique." The arguments of the BluBrew guys are compelling, and I'm always paranoid about making a strong statement and then being proven definitively wrong, but I know what I'm seeing. "Lyndon" is NOT a 1.85 image as Wells states without even having looked at the disc, that's a certainty. I eagerly await the DVD Beaver review (and yes, I know that won't necessarily please everyone either).

James R

All I care about is that someone at Warners finally realised that, since they managed to reissue A Clockwork Orange at 1.66 anamorphic, there was no reason why they shouldn't finally do the same for Barry Lyndon. Hopefully, though, they've also seen fit to make it 1) separately available and 2) on DVD as well as Blu for the HD-incapable (and sceptics) like me.

Homer J

The bluray of Barry Lyndon is heinously cropped to 1.78, even though Kubrick expressly specified a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The compositions are irretrievably harmed by the cropping - just look at the your first photograph, the top of the solider's hat is missing on the left.

Overscan on your TV set is covering up the blackbars on Chungking Express, etc - this doesn't mean that the bars aren't there. This simply isn't the way to handle screengrabs. BUT if you really want, then why not try comparing to the Barry Lyndon DVD and you will soon see how much is missing.

This is an arbitrary and disrespectful move by Warners and leaves me with no desire whatsoever to purchase the Bluray.

david hare

Barry Lyndon was shown on HDNet in 720p at 1.66 ratio over a year ago. I had assumed this was the same telecine Warner is using for the BluRay, but I dont have a copy of the BD yet. I would be amazed if they cropped it but standards at Warner HV have sunk to an all time low, viz the debacle with the forthcoming Kane BD which includes Ambersons as an SD afterthought. In any case I can post caps of the HD broadcast if you want. Glenn, can you give a timeline for the grab of the soldiers above?

Wells has a serious attention deficit problem. And I hope this is the issue here, but the guys from Blubrew have me worried.

Jeff McMahon

Heaven save us from the aspect ratio queens and their hysterics. You guys do understand blu-rays are a privilege and not a right?

Gordon Cameron

>Heaven save us from the aspect ratio queens and their hysterics. You guys do understand blu-rays are a privilege and not a right?

I suppose in a sense all home video is "a privilege and not a right" (at any rate, I can't find anything about it in the Constitution), but I don't see how that in any sense invalidates a general desire to be able to watch movies in the highest possible quality and as close as possible to how the director would have liked them to be seen (allowing for the intrinsic complexity of this concept in certain instances).

Michael Brooke

Glenn, I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, and I'd love it if you were right about this...

...but the sad fact is that my own copy of the British Blu-ray, which I assume is identical to the US Blu-ray, is 100% definitely framed at 1.78:1/16:9. I've checked and triple-checked my display settings, and I'm afraid there's no doubt about this. 1.66:1 films play with unmistakable black bars at the sides, and this one doesn't.

The one smidgen of upbeat news is that framing it at 1.78:1 is only half as destructive as framing it in 1.85:1 would have been - but there's no doubt that it should be 1.66:1. In fact, it's just about the only post-'2001' Kubrick where there's no serious debate over the aspect ratio.

The Fanciful Norwegian

On a hunch, I dug out my own copy of "Chungking Express" and checked it out on my own calibrated display. I'm pretty sure I found the exact frame photographed above (not the easiest feat in a handheld shot like that), and...hate to be the bearer of bad news, Glenn, but your setup is cropping the picture. In this comparison the left and right sides look the same, but your shot is missing a little bit on the bottom and the top is heavily cropped, with two small light bulbs almost entirely cropped out (you can see a tiny remnant of one along the edge of the screen). If you're serious about getting the full image as actually encoded on the disc, you should look into having your gear professionally calibrated, because as it stands you seem to be losing a decent chunk of the picture.


There is no humanly discernible, remotely give-a-shit difference between 1.66, 1.78, and 1.85. There just isn't. Movies that aren't shot in Scope might as well just be on HBO filling my TV screen entirely, because it's not like a movie shot in 1.85 or anything squarer has any particular eyes on the prize of GREAT COMPOSITION.

Dudes, at that point IT'S A BOX. Oh, look REPULSION's in 1.66 and not 1.33, I can see one extra quarter-inch sliver of geography!

If it's not in 2.35:1, it's a BOX and it doesn't matter, might as well be 1.33.

Zardoz has spoken. And Zardoz, of course, is a movie in a REAL aspect ratio with beautiful competitions. Not half-assed, hackville 1.66, which DESERVES to be compromised.

Account Deleted

I'm glad i've held onto my remastered Kubrick DVDs from 2001 (the year, not the film). I don't know if it's just me but Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut just look right to my eyes in those versions, especially The Shining as it's 'Presented in the full aspect ratio of the original camera negative, as Stanley Kubrick intended.'

Can't go wrong there.


I seem to remember Vilmos Zsigmond, on 'The Deer Hunter' DVD commentary, offering an avuncular and intelligent argument that, if he had his way, every movie should be shot in 2.35:1.

Lex, you're no Vilmos Zsigmond.

Michael Brooke

Has Lex ever seen a film by Sergei Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, Yasujiro Ozu or Orson Welles? I always thought they were pretty good when it came to image composition, but clearly that's just me being deluded. As indeed were they for not jumping at the chance to shoot wider than 4:3 when CinemaScope was introduced.

(Not that Eisenstein had much choice, but the others did).


Glenn, we'd like to thank you for your rectification.

Looking back, we were a bit too harsh in commenting on your findings.

Kind regards,

The Blubrew team (yes Blubrew, seriously)


Glenn Kenny

@ Blubrew team: No, you guys were right. I was coming on like a bull in a china shop and I was wrong, so I earned the slapdown. I hear reckoning is on its way from Wells, too. THAT I will not stand...


Sir, the Barry Lyndon aspect ratio is not Kubrick's preffered aspect ratio. The tops and bottoms are cropped, the sides expanded.


"There is no humanly discernible, remotely give-a-shit difference between 1.66, 1.78, and 1.85."

So wrong Lex. Check how crappy The Shining looks on bluray...



LYNDON is 1.59:1 - and no, it's not okay to crop artists hard work just to fit fuckin' homescreens (while it was okay with the last 3 Kubricks - since those were composed primarily for 1.85:1)

Homer J

Glenn, yes, you must get comment from Vitali on this issue! And, if possible, an undertaking to take it up with WHV.

As for folks like 'Lex', I find it amazing that one still has to make the case for OAR in 2011! The OAR of Barry Lyndon is and always has been 1.66:1, WHV screwed up, the disc needs to be withdrawn and re-issued, case closed.

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