MindHarp's DVD Addict Page

 I've become a DVD addict! This happened innocently enough when we set up our new computer which included a DVD-ROM. Once you have watched your first movie in this new totally digital environment, there is NO turning back. Our home is slowly turning into a DVD heaven.

My favorite DVD feature is the Commentary Audio Track, in which directors, actors, producers, screenwriters, special effect supervisors, and cinematographers, among others walk you through the movie. I've catalogued my reaction to this feature in our own DVD library, as well as other spectacular DVD extras

MindHarp's Widescreen DVD Aspect Reality Chart

(or what's on the box isn't always what you get!)

With widescreen TVs on the horizon, we recently acquired a portable DVD player which literally allows us to watch DVD movies from our pocket any time and anywhere we want in its widescreen (16:9) format, but we can also plug it into our standard (4:3) TV for a more comfortable viewing. We also watch DVD movies on our DVD-rom for a full digital experience, but have found the aspect labeling on DVD boxes to be both inadequate and confusing.

Since DVD players let you toggle your widescreen viewing aspect (16:9) for standard TV play (4:3), why are some companies producing letterboxed movies in a standard-only format (i.e. "Chaplin," "Evita") and passing them off as "widescreen DVD"?

You can't always tell from the DVD box if you are getting a "real" widescreen movie or a letterboxed movie on a standard screen. The descriptions in many cases are identical for both (compare "Apollo 13" and "Legal Eagles," "Pretty Woman" and "Sleepless in Seattle", "Evita" and "The Fifth Element"). We've sorted the screen aspects in our DVD library, to show how they appear on our portable widescreen DVD player.

My favorite example of this identity crisis is the "Lethal Weapon" movies. They got it right, then they got it wrong, then they got it right again. As widescreen TVs become more prevalent, this aspect/enhancement issue will become critical. All companies need to interpret "widescreen" as including 16:9 enhancement NOW.

(Aspect/enhancement graphics pictured below are for a widescreen TV.)

Widescreen DVD Aspect Reality Chart

Movie Title 16:9  
Aspect Ratio, Enhancement 
Listed on Box
Air Force One   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen/standard
All the President's Men X    
matted widescreen enhanced
Amadeus   X     Flipper letterbox widescreen enhanced
Apollo 13   X       2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
Austin Powers X       X 2:1 letterbox widescreen enchanced /standard
Basketball Diaries     X     widescreen version
Body Heat X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard
Chaplin     X     1.85:1 matted widescreen
Contact   X       letterbox widescreen enhanced
Dave X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard
Demolition Man   X     X letterbox widescreen enhanced /standard
Dirty Dancing     X   X 1.85:1 matted widescreen/standard
Evita       X   2.35:1 widescreen
The Fabulous Baker Boys     X   X matted widescreen/standard
Fargo     X   X 1.85:1 matted widescreen/standard
Fiddler on the Roof   X       widescreen enhanced
The Fifth Element   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen
First Knight X       X 1.85:1 letterbox widescreen enhanced/standard
The Freshman X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard
The Fugitive X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard
Grosse Point Blank     X     1.85:1 widescreen
In the Line of Fire   X       2.35:1 widescreen
L.A. Confidential   X       letterbox widescreen enhanced
L.A. Story     X     matted widescreen
Legal Eagles       X   2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
Lethal Weapon X       X 1.85:1 matted widescreen 
16:9 enhanced /standard
Lethal Weapon 2       X X letterbox widescreen enhanced /standard [Note: It is not enhanced]
Lethal Weapon 3   X     X letterbox widescreen enhanced /standard
Little Women X         1.85:1 widescreen
The Manchurian Candidate     X   X widescreen version/standard
Midnight Cowboy     X   X 1.85:1 letterbox/standard
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil X         matted widescreen enhanced
Moonstruck         X standard only 
My Best Friend's Wedding   X     X 2:35:1 widescreen/standard
My Stepmother is an Alien X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard
The Net X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard
Only You X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard
Outbreak X       X matted widescreen 16:9 enhanced/standard
Outland       X X letterbox widescreen enhanced 
[Note: It is not enhanced]
The Pelican Brief   X     Flipper letterbox widescreen enhanced
Philadelphia X         1.85:1 widescreen
The Player X         1.85:1 letterbox widescreen enhanced
Point of No Return X       X letterbox widescreen enhanced
Pretty Woman     X     1.85:1 widescreen
Pure Country X       X matted widescreen enhanced
Red Heat X X 1.85:1 matted widescreen/standard
The Secret Garden X X matted widescreen enhanced
Sleepless in Seattle X 1.85:1 widescreen
Stargate X Flipper letterbox
The Terminator X 1.85:1 widescreen
Terminator 2 X 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen,
16.9 enchanced
Thelma and Louise X X letterbox widescreen/standard
This Is Spinal Tap X videoscope (original aspect ratio)
Tomorrow Never Dies X X widescreen enhanced/standard
Total Recall X X widescreen/standard
Twister X X 2:35:1 letterbox widescreen,
16.9 enhanced/standard
U.S. Marshals X X matted widescreen enhanced
WarGames X widescreen
While You Were Sleeping X 1:85:1 widescreen
The Wild Bunch X Flipper letterbox widescreen
Wolf X X 1:85:1 widescreen/standard
The Year of Living Dangerously X letterbox widescreen enhanced
Zero Effect X X matted widescreen enhanced


Email address: mindharp@mythirdage.com

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