Aspect Ratio


New member
Aug 10, 2019
I recently watched 'The Abyss' on dvd and I was surprised at how small the picture was i.e. how much of the screen was taken up by black bars.

I know that films are shot in different aspect ratios, so my surprise wasn't at the presence of black bars, which I don't really have an issue with. What did puzzle me is that the claimed aspect ratio on the disc is 2.35:1, and I have many films with this aspect ratio, none of which reduce the size of the picture to such an extent.

Is there any reason why 2 films with the same aspect ratio would differ in the thickness of the black bars, or is this likely to be a miss-statement on the back of 'The Abyss' dvd box?

Just to reiterate, I'm not complaining at the presence of the bars. I know '2001' and 'How the West was won' are wider and the picture therefore smaller, but their aspect ratios reflect this.

Any ideas?

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
You will come across the ocassional disc that may be labelled incorrectly. I had a film a few weeks ago which said 2.35:1, and it was actually 1.85:1.

Also, many films will have a logo on it saying "16:9 Anamorphic", but the actual ratio could be 2.35:1 or 2.40:1, which it will usually state in the specs.


The Abyss is only available as a non-anamorphic release. This means that you will see black bars all the way around the image, reducing the picture to a small picture within the frame of the tv. Is this what you mean? If so, you can compensate by using the zoom function on your set to , well, zoom in.


I think the back may have been labelled incorrectly then. I looked on and it says that there are two aspect ratios 2.20:1 and 2.35:1.

I'm not sure what non-anamorphic means, but the image only had black bars top and bottom (really thick ones) not left and right.

I've just checked the box and it says both 2.35:1 and 'Widescreen Version, 4:3.' Quite what those two mean when taken, I'm not entriely sure. Maybe there are both versions on the disc, because otherwise I'd imagine they would be contradictory.

Anyway, I do think incorrect labelling as David suggested, is the most likely cause for my confusion.


4:3 widescreen as a term refers to non-anamorphic widescreen ie in that mode you would have black bars left and right too. My copy is the USA one, and it too lists as 2.35:1. To put your mind at rest, I would suggest you also look at another movie in the same aspect ratio, to see if the black bars appear the same width. They ought to, of course.


Well-known member
Nov 20, 2008
Anamorphic means the picture has been squeezed - it you look at anamorphic output on a non-widescreen TV, for instance, everyone will look thin and squashed. On a widescreen TV with a 16.9 setting (anamorphic), the picture will be stretched out. A non-anamorphic (i.e. 'normal' picture) will have to be expanded more in every direction to fill a wide screen, hence anamorphic DVDs etc should offer a better quality image.


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