Widescreen composition and film

Finding ways to compose for the new shape

As we discussed in the previous chapter, the widescreen format was promoted as a new visual experience. Following on from Cinerama, Twentieth Century Fox introduced CinemaScope, and head of production Darryl Zanuck repeatedly reminded his directors that they should take full advantage of the screen width by staging action all the way across the frame – in his words, ‘keep the people spread out’. He wanted the audience to experience the full width of the new screen shape. Initially it was the technology that was being promoted rather than story or stars.

There had been a fashion in Academy ratio black and white films to stage in depth with tight groups in the foreground ...

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