This was a highly informative and entertaining lecture that explored how the cinema (and certain filmmakers) have, over the years, embraced aesthetically and creatively, the possibilities with the wide-screen format. And with the proliferation of wide-screen televisions populating our living rooms over this past decade, the illustrated talk was most timely. It’s amazing to think that wide screen cinema has been with us now for 60 years, ever since the film industry had to act decisively, when faced by the threatened competition of television. This was the era of Cinemascope, an event that first expanded and exploded into theatres in 1953, with the epic “The Robe”. However, moviemakers have been experimenting with all manner of wide screen formats decades before this. Even during the silent era, the French director Abel Gance broadened his canvas with his film “Napoleon” And then in 1930, director Raoul Walsh filmed in 70mm his pioneering western “The Big Trail”, which featured a very young actor by the name of…John Wayne.

Dr Iannone focused on a few directors (both in Hollywood and further abroad) who grasped the possibilities of the new format with a great degree of artistic creativity. He used, for example, certain clips illustrating a number of points that made you look at how the wide screen format of 2:35:1 (getting all technical here) could enhance and enlarge the visual experience.

Among the directors he highlighted included the likes of Frank Tashlin (the humorous opening credits to “The Girl Can’t Help It”) Richard Fleischer (whose work is celebrated at this years Festival) and Jean Luc Goddard. Fleischer in particular used the wide-screen format with great skill during his long career, even splitting the format into 16 segments during his 1968 serial killer thriller “The Boston Strangler”.

Nevertheless, a number of established and successful directors (such as Hitchcock, John Ford, Howard Hawks etc.) resisted utilising wide-screen if possible, or using it very sparingly, and only when the subject required it. But equally, many revelled in its unique possibilities in telling their particular stories for maximum visual effectiveness. One only has to think of the likes of Sam Fuller, Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann and John Sturges, directors whose work used the format with immense stylistic expression.

For me, the one man whose later work used the wide screen to its fullest potential (someone that Dr Iannone concurred with me) was David Lean.
But that’s not to forget individuals such as Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, Michael Mann and Brian DePalma, all who have given the wide screen many of its richest and most visually arresting images.

Lawrence Lettice