The movie started on time, previews played nice and fine, audible, discernible, etc. Then the previews ceased and the lights dimmed and thus, the abomination began. The Angelika always plays a slightly amusing pre-show piece about keeping your cell phone turned off, and seeing as how often I see stuff there, I could damn-near recite it to anyone, but I immediately noticed something was off.
The picture was essentially squashed - everything was compressed and compacted like a car at a junkyard - faces disfigured, squatty, oompa-loompa like. Nevertheless, I figured that the pre-show stuff was on a different reel and thus, wouldn't affect the film. I was wrong.
Now, the opening credits to The White Ribbon are white titles on a black background and, like the film itself, they are very deliberate and sterile and long. I couldn't tell if the picture had been corrected, so I waited. The first shot comes into focus and nope, it wasn't fixed. This is a film shot in glorious black-and-white in 1:85 to 1 aspect ratio and what we got was closer to anamorphic 2:75 to 1. It was like the projectionist had it rigged for Ben-Hur or something.
(Here is a replication of pretty much what it looked like):
-Now normally when there is a technical problem in a theater, I play the guy who waits for someone else to get up and say something. So I waited a couple minutes, one more minute, another...and...nothing. Nobody batted an eye. So I looked around, got up and told them that there was a problem with the projector in theater #3 and 2-3 minutes later it was fixed. Bravo.
So I practically missed the first 10 minutes, which is a shame, but I got over it. I was just shocked that in a theater full of, say 15-20 people, that nobody noticed that something was off-kilter. Amazing.