Okay, so it’s a rubbish photo, but you will be able to see what I’m getting at. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has a great pitch – ‘TCM celebrates landmark films of all genres from across the decades including Midnight Cowboy, Boogie Nights and Apocalypse Now’ – but ruins the films it shows by broadcasting them in the most ridiculous format.
This is Boogie Nights, a film singled out as a TCM highlight. Bizarrely, they broadcast in academy proportions (aspect ratio 1.33:1), while the film is shot wide (aspect ratio 2.35:1). Rather than commit the worst of all crimes – pan and scan – they show the film through a letterbox. The result on a wide screen television is that the film is shown with a massive black border.
With a bit of messing around it is possible to get over the worst of this (cutting off the TCM logo in the process), but if TCM are serious about showing classic movies, it’s about time they started broadcasting films in the correct proportions from the start. With mainstream channels like BBC1 and ITV now broadcasting in widescreen – and even the advertisements are meant to be broadcast wide – it’s increasingly difficult to see the point of TCM.