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How's this for contrast? On the one hand, there was the dispiriting experience of a recent screening of Steven Speilberg's Lincoln at a local multiplex. After realizing that the 2.35:1 aspect ratio film was being improperly projected at 1.85:1—resulting in truncated actors and titles—this writer twice notified the staff, but the error was never corrected. On the other hand, there is this month's ongoing series of classic widescreen cinema at the Webster University Film Series, where diligence for the integrity of the projected image is always paramount.
Throughout January, the featured series—titled “Taking It All In”—has been showcasing a sumptuous program of artistic triumphs and crowd-pleasing entertainments from the 1950s through 80s. Presenting classic features on a big screen has been a dependable programming move for both Webster and film series across the country. The Museum of the Moving Image in New York, for example, has had success in the recent years with their “See It Big” series, curated with Reverse Shot. Webster, however, has elected to focus on a particular visual niche with “Taking It All In,” presenting films that take maximal advantage of aspect ratios of 2.20:1 and wider.
This weekend is the final set of films in the series, and it's an impressive slate: Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974) on Friday, Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) on Saturday, and Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) on Sunday. One suggestion, having seen the Moore Auditorium's retrofitted widescreen panels put through their paces at a screening of A Fistful of Dollars in December: Sit in the middle.
Screenings take place at the Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster University Campus (map here). Admission is $6 general admission, cash only. For more information, call 314-968-7487 or go to webster.edu.