March 17, 2018
How Filmmakers Use Aspect Ratios to Tell Better Stories
Everything within a frame tells a story…even the frame itself.
Aspect ratios may not be the most exciting or sexy thing to talk about in regards to the aesthetics of cinema, but they are important. As the exhibition of films evolved from early peep-show machines to contemporary movie cineplexes so did the size and shape of the cinematic frame, with the square 1:1:33 ratio stretching to 2:40:1 anamorphic.
But despite the close link between aspect ratios and the time period in which they were used, there are actually many stylistic and narrative reasons filmmakers choose particular aspect ratios, whether it’s to convey a sense of claustrophobia or to add context to the story that’s unfolding within the frame.
In this video from Fandor, Jacob T. Swinney explores the many ways some of the most highly regarded filmmakers have used different aspect ratios as a storytelling device.