Abstract

One of the earliest and most persistent standards of the motion-picture industry was the rectangle of projected images with a four-to-three ratio. Related media in the late nineteenth century, such as still photography and the magic lantern, advocated for rectangular borders (rather than alternatives such as circular masking), a trend that motion pictures codified with a fixed technical standard. Industry publications provided a powerful rhetorical justification for this standard by presenting the rectangle as an aesthetic preference, a display of skill, and a means of erasing a viewer's consciousness of borders. This rhetoric—and the (slightly wider) rectangle—still influence twenty-first-century media.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-3905
Print ISSN
0892-2160
Pages
pp. 136-168
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-18
Open Access
No
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