We know for a fact, that the intended aspect ratio of HBND is 1.85:1. I know the difference isn't large between 1.85:1 and 1.78:1, but it's still a difference. Does no one else find fault with the Disney and many other distributors handle aspect ratios on Blu-Ray?
I hate to tell you but technically Disney already did that.
For HBND the 1.78:1 probably shows you MORE of the picture because the source negative was 1.66:1. A 1.85:1 version in this case would be cropped or zoomed slightly more. Having looked at the Little Mermaid in 1.66:1 & 1.78:1 I have to say the old 1.66:1 DVD is more natural looking especially during the "Under The Sea" musical number. Differing choices for changing times I suppose!
Widescreen doesn't always mean you see more of the intended image but for HBND the IMDB now says the 1.85:1 theatrical version is the INTENDED ratio.
With Disney this isn't always clear and I have been bullied elsewhere for pointing out exactly what you said in your post.
Other distributors do generally leave their back-catalogue alone. It is rare for a film-maker to request an aspect change but it does happen (Stanley Kubrick settled on 1.66:1 for Doctor Strangelove although the film has portions shot in the 1.37:1 Academy Format).
There was a 20 year period between 1961-1981 where Disney's animated classics were prepared for more than one theatrical release format. Many smaller theatres and Drive-Ins in the USA did not have the necessary set-up for widescreen at that time.
Disney Widescreen movies (1961-1981) would generally be 1.66:1 (Mary Poppins) or 1.75:1 like the widescreen versions of animated films directed by Wooly Reitherman - including the suspiciously cramped WS version of The Jungle Book. Having said that, I must stress not all of them wound up in WS on VHS, DVD or BD. 101 Dalmatians has always been released in 1.33:1 (negative ratio 1.37:1 Academy Format). Conversely for The Aristocats the older VHS & DVDs were legitimately presented in 1.33:1 (negative ratio 1.37:1) before getting the Special Edition treatment on an equally valid (but severely cropped) theatrical Widescreen format of 1.75:1 since this was ONE of the ways the film was originally presented to the public. For Blu-ray Disc of The Aristocats Disney tries a compromise at 1.66:1 and therefore fewer instances of noticeably missing details we are use to seeing in-frame or poorly framed/cropped/zoomed shots concentrating on one central event or character.
You've got the negative ratio of 1.66:1, the theatrical ratio (cropped, reframed and blown-up under the directors' supervision) of 1.85:1 (also used for the SD DVD releases of HBND1) and then the 16:9 TV (and current Widescreen HD standard) native aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
The Little Mermaid got an initial DVD release in 1.66:1 (as animated) but was non-anamorphic. But it's original theatrical version was 1.85:1. Future DVDs etc. from 2006 onwards have been 1.78:1 anamorphic (16:9 Full-Frame i.e. no black bars in line with current TV standards).
Beauty & The Beast is another 1.66:1 film released in 1.85:1 theatrically but is now 1.78:1 for home viewing.
In short, a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen release for all the 1989-2000 Disney Renaissance movies would be welcomed especially considering that 1.66:1 was for many years Disney's own Family-Friendly Widescreen format.
Let's not talk in great detail about Sleeping Beauty since I have put up with a myriad of abuse on the subject. I will say that the new 2008 onwards 2.55:1 version faithfully recreates the intentions of Disney and his staff (Super Technirama 70). The 2003 DVD did feature a 2.35:1 version that was true to the version people will have seen in Widescreen in the '50s. Both are valid but obviously the 21st century 2.55:1 version is best (negative ratio). Having seen them side by side the epic scope of the beautiful backgrounds really does help immerse you in the environment of the film. Simply fantastic!
Owning The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, HBND1, etc. in more than one aspect has allowed me to make an informed choice regarding Disney animated movies.
Hi there, Thanks for the very detailed answer - I'm sure it'll be useful to anyone who didn't already know all/ most of the above. I find DVDizzy invaluable when sorting out the different versions of Disney movies. However, I was looking more for a personal discussion of the pros and cons of open-matting or incorrectly hard-matting movies on Blu-Ray - as it has sometimes been the case with Disney films. While it is true that the image of HBND in all likelihood shows more picture than had it been 1.85:1, it does however compromise the intended framing of the movie - and not everybody knows how to crop a Blu-Ray disc - that means that most people will be watching a (marginally) different aspect ratio than the director (or animation's equivalent of a Director of Photography) intended.
OK. I'm sorry if I come across in the wrong way. I honestly believe in respecting the ORIGINAL vision or intent of those talented people involved in these productions.
At least Joss Whedon is always up-front with his fans. The film we call Marvel's Avengers Assemble (2012) was compromised by Disney as he'd specifically worked on the last forty minutes with 1.85:1 in mind (HULK). I certainly do agree with everything you have said. Sadly Fox did the same thing to Whedon's Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series in seasons 4-7 were matted to 1.77:1 on DVD except in the USA for R1 which retains the 1.33:1 ratio all seven seasons were planned for and contained a personal message from Joss Whedon in the s4 set detailing the rather obvious reasons.
While thinking of Disney let's not forget the advent of post-converted 3D versions of films has a similar irksome feeling of altering a pre-existing example of the cinematic arts (Avengers Assemble, Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, etc.). It's just not right!! Modern DVNR techniques and alterations to the colour balance, saturation or brightness of a scene/film is also heavily abused by Disney (The Sword in the Stone).
There may come a time when our favourite films are almost unrecognisable and a change made by somebody in marketing becomes established as the accepted version with the original meaning or composition lost forever (worst case scenario).
Like I tried to say ALL the original versions created by the film-makers at the time for the intended original method of exhibition are valid but Disney should have placed both (where applicable) on a BD50 rather than pairing the USA films and their sequels, prequels, etc. I'd buy that and then we would have the choice. We may then have been given more multi-disc Platinum or Diamond editions as a result.
In terms of Disney Animated Classics really as long as the original credited directors are involved they can market it as an approved version.
I really do question if The Jungle book was ever meant to be widescreen at all since the scenes leading up to and including the I Wan'na Be Like You sequence are missing such beautifully detailed (and funny) character animation for the monkeys. the whole film just seems tailor-made for an open-matte 1.33:1 release. Sadly I'll have to live with a washed-out less vibrant old DVD or just go with the accepted norm of widescreen. Worse still is when you get previews/trailers for upcoming releases that appear in the other ratio.
You and I appear to have the same dislike for any alterations to pre-existing films to conform to the format of the moment. I do not support the idea of DVD, Blu-ray or official Download copies re-framed to a 16:9 TV's native 1.78:1 but don't mind so much if companies provide BROADCASTERS with them.
Apologies again for misunderstanding your original post (I have Asperger's).
All the best to you.
Many thanks for your reply.
BTW, your comments the fact that not everyone knows how to (presumably selectively & cautiously) crop really is something I can relate to. I watch anime and now own two Funimation 16:9 cropped releases of the series Dragon Ball Z. The DVD orange brick sets (the basis for our UK PAL DVD version) and recent more carefully thought out Blu-ray versions are not a patch on the 4:3 1.33:1 original aspect used in the Dragon Box re-masters where the framing and colours were intact!