Dueling Video Versions: Plusses & Minuses

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Posted by Sarah on July 28, 1998 at 19:28:17:

OK - so I'm crazy, but curiosity killed the cat and I was curious! After the talk about the video versions, I had to know!

I have in my hand BOTH the "regular" and the "THX" version (just bought the latter).

The opening of the THX version opens with the film trailer followed by a promo for the THX versions (of which there are few -- thank god LOTM is one of them) which says as follows: "Most movies...have been modified from their original theatrical format by a process known as pan & scan. With these ... movies... you are only getting one-half the picture. With the full aspect ratio of the widescreen series, you'll be seeing the complete on-screen action as originally shown in movie theaters without panning or scanning."

While this is being spoken, it shows examples from each version of LOTM side by side, including the example of Duncan and Hawkeye walking along the river together. In the pan&scan version, you see Duncan up close then it scans over to the right and you see Hawkeye in front of him. In the widescreen version, you see both at once. That means you may see more of some of the people, and you may see "action" happening that you might otherwise miss (although I'm not sure of this latter point).

The widescreen version has been remastered and is brighter and the colour is more vivid; and it has better sound (that's the THX part). For example, you can hear the "I will find you" scene much better.

Additional pluses (and these are BIG): 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes trailers, which include scenes of the construction of Fort W.H. , and scenes from the filming (including one "I will find you" scene which must have been reshot because in this behind-the-scenes instance, Cora says, "If the worst happens", and I swear in the real version she only says "The worst happens", which is as the script is written). The behind-the-scenes bit ALSO includes brief interviews with Madeleine Stowe, Eric Schweig, Maurice Roeves, and Russell Means!

Minuses of the THX version: because you see more, often what you see is empty scenery (which is nice, but...) -- sort of like wasted space. The important things seems farther away or more distant, smaller than in the other version. This means you can't see the details as well. For example, when Magua's blood spurts on Chingachgook's face -- can't see the blood as well in the THX version.

All said, I'm probably going to stick with the other version because I may see less but what I see, I see more closely and in greater detail, which is how I prefer it. However, I haven't watch the entire THX version yet (had to skip to my favourite scene beginning with my favourite music, and bring out the hankies), so I'll wait to pass final judgement.

I think I'll just buy another TV and put the THX short interview of Eric on -- on eternal freeze-frame!

Hope this helps.

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