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Besides all-in brawling amongst the alphabet, letterboxing is also one of the two techniques by which cinema is brought to the small screen. The entire picture is reduced in size so as to fit horizontally across the television screen resulting in black areas above and below.

This is the preferred method for artsy-fartsy movies because none of the cinematic grandeur is lost.
The black bits make the perfect spot for subtitles too.

Opposite of pan-and-scan.

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