Verticality and the Academy ratio in Phantom Thread

For those wanting to follow threads on Phantom Thread

Writing About Film

I twice discussed Phantom Thread in my podcast, and this brief post is a development of an observation I brought up in it. You can listen to the discussions here (the second screening involved my brother who was already an obsessive fan of the film, having seen it five times at the cinema, by the time I’d seen it twice): Part 1, Part 2.

When I saw Phantom Thread in the cinema I was struck by how it visually emphasised verticality and compressed the frame horizontally. It felt like an Academy ratio film. The film is certainly echoing or adapting classic Hollywood style, with its period setting, rich romantic plot, extraordinary orchestral score and closing credits that conspicuously fade over the top of each other. But Paul Thomas Anderson only went so far; he didn’t shoot in black and white or Academy ratio (in evoking the milieu…

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