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Helicopter Blades

adolfwolfli · 24 · 5785

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Reply #15 on: February 08, 2004, 08:04:24 AM
haha mogs, u are the Punk'n master :!:
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Reply #16 on: February 08, 2004, 08:14:33 AM
what'cha gonna do? someone's gotta represent fo da kids.

i have no clue what i'm talking about. chuckhimselfo, i'm a lying bastard.


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Reply #17 on: February 08, 2004, 09:53:40 AM
context, context, context.


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Reply #18 on: February 08, 2004, 12:25:21 PM
Quote from: mogwai
the kubrick estate will digitally correct all the mistakes so that no errors will be seen on the next stanley kubrick deluxe dvd box set special editon 2.0.

Does anyone else think that this will make Kubrick roll over in his grave?  Like, a lot?


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Reply #19 on: February 09, 2004, 10:12:10 PM
there was a while where i was reading a lot of books on directors and my gut tells me that Kubrick spoke about the helicopter blades in an interview.......however, i have no clue where or when it was done
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Reply #20 on: February 16, 2004, 08:55:47 PM
This also goes back to how the bone and the spaceship don't line up perfectly.
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Reply #21 on: February 25, 2004, 09:43:45 PM
1/ I noticed a helicopter shadow in The Shining, is this a mistake?

"This is probably the single most often-asked and most irritating question to recur over and over again on alt.movies.kubrick.

The opening titles of The Shining consist of long, dreamlike, sweeping shots of the Rocky Mountains, as Kubrick explained to Michel Ciment (1): "It was important to establish an ominous mood during Jack's first drive up to the hotel -- the vast isolation and eerie splendour of high mountains, and the narrow, winding roads which would become impassable after heavy snow."

The helicopter footage was filmed by Greg McGillivray and Kubrick was apparently very pleased with his work: "He spent several weeks filming some of the most beautiful mountain helicopter shots I've seen." While the grace and scope of these shots is hypnotic, there is a moment, just before a low fly-by pass of the yellow VW car, where the shadow of the helicopter filming the scene is clearly visible in the lower right hand corner of the picture.

So, why is this such a hot topic on the newsgroup? Kubrick has a reputation as a perfectionist, and this is something of a very apparent gaffe. It's generated no end of commentary, mostly facetious, as to why Kubrick had "clearly" left the shot in. Some say that, if the film was projected through a widescreen gate (2) - as it would be in a cinema - the shadow would not be visible, although members of amk have refuted this. For instance Mark Ervin noticed the shadow on The Shining's third showing at Mann's Chinese Theater May 23, 1980 and he has "never failed to see it since."

AMK is lucky to have as an occasional contributor Gordon Stainforth. Gordon was an assistant editor on The Shining (he took over from Ray Lovejoy when he became ill) he actually cut the title sequence. Here's what he has to say.

"I want to try and put at rest the interminable [helicopter shadow] debate re. an apparent mistake in The Shining. I cut the title sequence, so I speak with some authority. I've said quite a lot about this before, so I hope this really is the last time!
While I did the first cut, it is just possible that Ray Lovejoy made some alterations to the picture when he was finalising the front titles and credits - I have a distinct recollection of him asking me for the trims - but I think not. But I do have a recollection that at one stage in the movie some of those cuts were going to be dissolves. It is just possible that when we changed that mix to a straight cut we went back slightly beyond the centre point of the dissolve to get the absolute maximum length out of the shot. Musically and emotionally I remember we needed absolutely every usable frame of that first long shot with the titles.

OK, some key facts:

Although The Shining was shot with the full academy aperture, it was designed and composed entirely for the 1.85:1 ratio, and that is the only way it should be projected in the theatre.

All the Steenbecks in the cutting rooms accordingly had their screens marked, or even masked off, with the 1.85:1 ratio. The 6-plate Steenbeck in Stanley and Ray's main cutting room was masked off with black masking tape, because you cannot cut a movie properly unless you can see the frame exactly as it will appear in the cinema.

However the helicopter shadow IS almost certainly visible for about 4 or 5 frames at the edge of the 1.85:1 masking. But it was NOT visible on any of the correctly marked-up Steenbecks, or in the main viewing theatre at Elstree, at least, not as the first version of the film left Elstree in 1980. I think now that this mistake may have crept in very late during the editing of the movie when the first caption-title 'The Interview' was shortened by 8 frames on 23 April 1980 and the Main Title/credit sequence was lengthened accordingly by 8 frames, since the music could not be shortened. (This information is based on my original cutting room notes)

Every one of the show prints of the first 6 interpositives for the American release of The Shining was personally checked in the viewing theatre at Elstree by Stanley himself. IF the helicopter shadow was fleetingly visible, either Stanley did not notice it, or it was so trivial that it did not bother him.

Unfortunately the masking and racking in many theatres is incredibly inaccurate. [...] I therefore suspect that people who have seen this "awful" shadow for any length of time on the cinema screen must have seen it projected at completely the wrong ratio (probably 1.66/1!), or incredibly badly racked, or both. Or of course they've seen it on the video, where it's visible for just over a second!

Incidentally (or not so incidentally!), Stanley was NOT at all bothered by the vague shadow of the rotors at the top of the frame in the last shot of the main titles."


The notion that dramas should aim to suspend our disbelief goes right back to Aristotle's "Poetics," where it was first articulated. However a similar jarring "mistakes" were deliberately employed as effects by the playwright and drama theorist Bertolt Brecht (3) in the 1930s. He even had a name for them: 'alienation effects,' (Verfremdungseffekten) and they crops up in many of his plays. Brecht used alienation effects because he wanted shatter audiences suspension of disbelief, so that they would think about the issues raised by his plays dispassionately, instead of merely being swept away by the drama.
So is the helicopter shadow a Brechtian alienation effect?

Well, to assert that we'd have to identify other points of similarity between Brecht and Kubrick. And as it happens, there are a few: Brecht was accused by his critics of being cold, and intellectual (sound familiar?) and there are examples of many 'alienation effects' in Kubrick's films. For instance, in Lolita 'Quilty,' played by Peter Sellers, refers to Kubrick's previous film when he says: "I'm Spartacus. Did you come here to free the slaves?" and in Full Metal Jacket. there is a sequence of a film director (who physically resembles a young Kubrick) filming one of the battle scenes. So it seems fair to say that a Brechtian sensibility is detectable in Kubrick's filmmaking, and furthermore not outrageous to suggest that, if he had seen the shadow, he might have left the it in. This is not to say he DELIBERATELY CONTRIVED the helicopter shadow to be there: just that he wasn't concerned enough about concealing the artifice in his art to reject such an amazing shot.

I think the bottom line of this whole debate is that it says more about Kubrick fans than Kubrick himself. The myth about his absolute perfectionism is pervasive, but like every myth about Kubrick, it can't ever be the whole truth.


(1) Kubrick interview on The Shining by Michel Ciment available on-line at The Kubrick Site.  (back)

(2) See question 11 (note) for an explanation of aspect ratios  (back)

(3) An excellent account of Brecht and his work can be found in, "Brecht: A Choice Of Evils" by Martin Esslin  (back)
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


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Reply #22 on: May 07, 2005, 02:24:03 PM
in the kubrick Canon thread there was some discussion re: Taping full metal jacket for 1.85 - here's some more insight into this ongoing debate:

It seems to have been Kubrick's preference for his films to be shown in the 4:3 or "full frame" aspect ratio, because, according to his long-standing personal assistant Leon Vitali, that was the way he composed them through the camera viewfinder and if it were technically still possible to do so, he would have liked them to be shown full frame in cinemas as well. As Vitali said in a recent interview (2): "The thing about Stanley, he was a photographer that's how he started. He had a still photographer's eye. So when he composed a picture through the camera, he was setting up for what he saw through the camera - the full picture. That was very important to him. It really was. It was an instinct that never ever left him. [...] He did not like 1.85:1. You lose 27% of the picture, Stanley was a purist. This was one of the ways it was manifested."
The decision to release Kubrick's back catalogue as full frame only has been very controversial. The problem for Vitali and other defenders of the Kubrick legacy is that Kubrick never publicly voiced the preference now being attributed to him, so they are always open to the charge of over zealousness in protecting his legacy or even outright betrayal of that legacy. But this seems excessively harsh, Vitali' has been given the Hobson's choice of remaining true to his employers wishes no matter how anachronistic they seem (or may seem in future given the recent advances in home entertainment technology). Like a devoted acolyte, protecting his masters life work his position he will not yield to the clamour of criticism but will remain intractable in his resolve because he is not fighting for himself or defending his personal opinions, but those of the person he devoted half his adult life to serving. Ironically no one will ever know what would have happened if 16:9 widescreen TV sets became commonplace before Kubrick died -- he could might rethought his films one more time and chosen to transfer them to that widescreen ratio, or offered consumers the choice. Who knows? But one thing is certain, as long as his loyal staff and family still have a say in the matter, we will only being seeing his films in the format he wanted them to be shown in before he died.
DP - David Mullen (NorthFork) re: Aspect Ratios

"2001," was Super Panavision and should be shown in 2.20:1 in a 70mm print. "Spartacus" was Super Technirama, which was 2.35:1 in the 35mm prints, but might have been cropped to 2.20:1 in the 70mm prints.

"Barry Lyndon," was released theatrically in 1.66:1, even in the U.S. since Kubrick insisted on 1.66 hard mattes being sent to the various theatres showing the film (1.85 is the common "flat" widescreen ratio in the U.S.).

"Dr. Strangelove," was released in home video in Kubrick's preferred "multiple aspect ratio" but there is no way it could have been shown that way theatrically since you cannot change projector mattes in mid-screening (although it could be shown in Academy 1.37 and various hard mattes could appear in the image, cropping it to 1.66 at times -- however, Academy 1.37 had pretty much become obsolete as a projection format in most theatres by the 1960's.) I saw it projected to 1.85 at the Cinerama Dome and the framing looked fine; it was a little "tight" so I suspect that 1.66 would look perfect.

"Clockwork Orange," probably should only be shown in 1.66.

"The Shining," Steadicam operator Garrett Brown has claimed that he was asked to frame for 1.85, but Kubrick since then has preferred that the home video versions be full-frame TV (basically Academy 1.37).

I think that "The Shining" and "Full Metal Jacket" would all look fine if projected at 1.66, even though I suspect that the original U.S. releases of both shown in the 1.85 format.
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Reply #23 on: June 09, 2005, 02:58:30 PM
On  visual-memory.com there is a section claiming one of Kubricks innovations was:
Designing a film for the Steadicam
The Steadicam was first used in Hal Ashbury's Bound For Glory in 1976. But The Shining (1980) was arguably the first film that could not have been made without the device. Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Steadicam, developed special modifications to his camera for the film, such as the "low mode" that enabled Kubrick to capture Danny's tricycle rides around the Overlook Hotel in such a memorable way.

The kubrick archive proves this to be only a partially true statement. The film wasn't originally designed around the steadicam.

There is a letter from Jan Harlan writing to Stanley during Pre-Production of The Shining, telling him about the steadicam - included is a picture on set with garret brown (with steadicam) and director haskell wexler. In the letter Jan describes the rig and says that we may be interested in aquiring one for the Shining.  

You get the sense that the film was designed and moving forward without the Steadicam and Jan is pretty much saying - this may be an easier and more cost effective way of executing tracking shots.

It's debatable however - One could argue that hte modifications and design of the shots could be imagined but not aquired with out the Steadicam - furthermore, Kubrick very well may have changed his plans once having learned such technology exisited.
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