This week saw the DVD and Blu-ray release on the Park Circus label of Peter Greenaway’s 1996 film, The Pillow Book, a twisted romance starring Ewan McGregor and Vivian Wu.
As with all our film releases, be they cinema, DVD, Blu-ray or On Demand, we always take great care in obtaining the highest quality source material available. This often means speaking to sources around the world to ensure our products meet our, and our customers, exacting standards.
The release of The Pillow Book has raised some queries from customers regarding the DVD and Blu-ray aspect ratio and we wanted to take the opportunity to respond to them here. The main issue is in regards to the 16/9 133:1 ratio, which differs from the original 1.75:1 ratio used in cinemas upon the film’s release in 1996.
The question of why a different ratio should now be made available was one which we also asked when first looking into bringing The Pillow Book to home video.
The HD transfer was created as a 16/9 133:1 (pillarboxed) master as the original film materials did not allow for any other ratio but 133:1. There are a number of picture switches – black blanking at the top, bottom, etc – as a result.
There are also a number of soft shots, presumably due to the nature of the many complicated dissolves throughout the film. These were all done optically during processing of the film (as was the practice before CGI and Digital effects) and not digitally as they would be now.
The version of the film used by Park Circus was taken from the original master film elements and we understand that it was approved by the director, Peter Greenaway. This is a brand new HD 1080p transfer and certainly not an upconversion from an existing SD source as has been suggested by some people.
We’d also like to make it clear that the team who undertook this transfer has worked on many titles, both for studios and independent producers, and they have explored all options and chosen the best transfer method for the film.
We’re confident, given the information supplied to us, that the version of The Pillow Book now available on DVD and Blu-ray is the highest quality available. We hope this clarifies the situation surrounding this release and welcome any further questions in the comments section below.