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Meek's Cutoff


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Has anyone here seen Kelly Reichert's film Meek's Cutoff? It was beautifully shot by Chris Blauvelt. Reichert and Blauvelt chose the Academy aspect ratio to keep us from seeing the land before the characters because they had no idea what was up ahead either. The squareish frame keeps us focused on the people and not as much on the terrain.

 

I thought the night scenes were particularly noteworthy. I liked that they were barely lit. It was a look that I rarely see in films. On the other end of the spectrum, the day scenes conveyed the oppressive, overbearing desert sun.

 

The women always wore bonnets and the men were wearing hats. How do you generally light faces in such situations? Do you use reflectors to fill in the faces?

 

Does anyone know how the 35mm prints were printed? Were they true Academy prints or was the Academy image reduced to within a 1.85:1 area or possibly a 'scope print?

Edited by Ravi Kiran
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The women always wore bonnets and the men were wearing hats. How do you generally light faces in such situations? Do you use reflectors to fill in the faces?

That’s what I would do, more or less. But there’s a whole school of Western film lighting devoted to that, and I’m sure some people here have quite sophisticated methods which they might want to share or not. :)

 

Does anyone know how the 35mm prints were printed? Were they true Academy prints or was the Academy image reduced to within a 1.85:1 area or possibly a 'scope print?

Probably – this is how most 1.33/1.37:1 films are printed nowadays, even when they’re primarily intended for festival distribution. But I’ll be able to tell you for sure in a couple of weeks.

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I saw Meek's Cutoff tonight for the second time. It was projected digitally which pretty assures the audience that at least the correct aspect ratio will be employed. It was quite an experience seeing a modern-day arthouse film in the 1:37:1 but can't help but wonder if might have been more satisfying, for me at least, to see this film at least in 1:85:1, especially a western where almost every scene takes place in the wide open desert. I totally understand the filmmaker's motives for the academy ratio, but started missing the extra part of the screen.

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It was projected digitally which pretty assures the audience that at least the correct aspect ratio will be employed.

Actually it's very easy for the digital projectionist to choose an incorrect AR. Most systems aren't automated in this respect; they still rely on the projectionist to check the correct AR and setting it in the projector. I've seen mistakes happen where a 1.85:1 film is being shown in Scope, cropping the top and bottom.

 

I totally understand the filmmaker's motives for the academy ratio, but started missing the extra part of the screen.

One reason for that might be that in modern theaters, the screen masking isn't adjustable to Academy width. So you get a screen framed with black velvet in the 1.85:1 shape with a narrower Academy image inside it, which leaves some blank white screen on both sides. These things can have a psychological effect, so that you may begin to miss the "missing" image…

Edited by Antti Näyhä
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  • 2 weeks later...
Does anyone know how the 35mm prints were printed? Were they true Academy prints or was the Academy image reduced to within a 1.85:1 area or possibly a 'scope print?

I just checked, and at least the print they sent to our festival is actually true 1.37:1. That's really rare nowadays, more so with an American film…

 

I don't know if they made separate 1.85:1-reduced prints for wider domestic distribution (therefore losing some resolution and adding grain, but preventing projection in a wrong AR).

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