MovieChat Forums > Britannia Hospital (1982) Discussion > 'Anamorphic' dvd heavily cropped top and...

'Anamorphic' dvd heavily cropped top and bottom!


If you still own the vhs of B/H, you'll be astounded about how far Studio Canal zoomed into the picture to create the anamorphic 16:9 version.

There's absolutely loads cut off the top and bottom of the picture.(And some of the sides)

Why do they do this-it IS sacrilige
Although the quality of what you DO see on the dvd is perfect, for the age of the film-you DON'T see the whole film if you're with me.
Two clear examples are :
1) The number plate on the rear of the first ambulance,(VHS shows full numberplate plus more below it, the dvd only shows upper half of numberplate
2)The Donor Unit sign hanging above Graham Crowden's head just before he enters it-the dvd cuts the sign off totally.
If you continue comparing vhs and dvd throughout you'll realise quite early on that the dvd is pretty misleading!

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This is a common misconception about many "widescreen" movies from the late 1970s/early 1980s. Because of the influence of the new home video market, many films in this era were shot protecting the 1.33:1 aspect ratio but the filmmakers actually composed for widescreen within this. They knew the top and bottom of the frame would be cropped out (usually by masking) when the films were shown in theaters and so they composed for the wider frame. This is especially true of older established filmmakers like Lindsay Anderson and Stanley Kubrick - for instance if you compare the VHS of "The Shining" to the widescreen version you will see a lot more image in the top and bottom of the frame exactly as in the "Brittania Hospital" VHS. While the 1.33:1 aspect versions are interesting, the widescreen versions are what the filmmakers intended audiences to see in theaters and better represents their directorial vision.

Letterboxing was very unusual in the VHS era, largely because audiences didn't like it - VHS has very little resolution, TVs were smaller, and people didn't understand why the movies didn't fill the whole screen like regular television. All of this of course became moot with the introduction of higher-resolution DVDs, HD and widescreen TVs.

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