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Stanley Kubrick’s Projection Memo For ‘Barry Lyndon’; David Lynch Wanted ‘Mulholland Drive’ Louder

Stanley Kubrick's Projection Memo For 'Barry Lyndon'; David Lynch Wanted 'Mulholland Drive' Louder

In case you’ve missed it, there has been a minor storm of controversy brewing over Warner Bros.‘ recent release of Stanley Kubrick‘s masterful “Barry Lyndon” on BluRay. The bone of contention is that the current release crops the picture with a 1.77 aspect ratio, which Warner Bros. insists complies with the wishes of the late Kubrick. However, Glenn Kenny has unearthed the smoking gun as it were, receiving a copy of the instructions Stanley Kubrick sent to projectionists insisting on a screen format of 1.66 “and in no event at less than 1:75.” Meanwhile, Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere has also been furiously digging into this whole aspect ratio conundrum, and got a lengthy response from Leon Vitali, Kubrick’s friend, assistant and expert on all things regarding his films and…you should just read it for yourself.

For the rest of us, is it a bummer that Warner Bros. screwed the pooch on the release? Yes. Is it an egregious abortion of Kubrick’s film? Not really. We’re talking a pretty marginal amount of visual information that we’re not sure most people would notice, but yes, Warner Bros should probably correct it on future pressings. Anyway, you can check out the full memo in full below.

Not really related at all, but still kind of interesting Ray Pride has posted a memo that was sent to him from a reader circa the release of David Lynch‘s “Mulholland Drive.” It’s pretty standard except he asks that the volume be turned up exactly by 3 decibels. No wonder that soundtrack felt like it was pummeling us (in a good way). Check out both sets of instructions below.

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Kubrick wisely liked squarer compositions. Super widescreen is ****. The Barry Lyndon bluray looks too cleaned up and the cropping is an abomination to anyone intimately familiar with the film. Minor trimming? Nope, it destroys the painterly shape of the frame.


Hopefully one day they’ll be a boxset of ALL his movies in the correct aspect ratios.


1.66 was the European projection standard at the time, which was easily adjustable to the American standard (1.85) by the projectionist. Starting with “The Shining,” Kubrick shot 1.33 full frame (in order to protect the image for its inevitable VHS release), but composed the frame for 1.85. Most of this info has long been available in the Tachen book, “The Kubrick Archives.” It’s a shame Warner’s didn’t pay enough attention…

Katie Walsh

Yeah, David Lynch is a stickler for sound– I heard he went into the projection booth at Cannes when “Wild at Heart” was playing and had them crank the volume.

Nik Grape

Well…that sucks. Will Warner actually release it as it was intended?


Kubrick should have just shot everything after 2001 in 1.85, but no, he had to be different didn’t he :P And now that he’s six feet in the ground and every new DVD/Blu-ray release gets it all wrong, it seems so bittersweet. But it was different back then, this was before widescreen home tv’s and when pan-and-scan VHS was the hot potato of the day.

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