Is Cinema dead or just growing up?

Is Cinema dead or just growing up?

On Friday, May 23, at the Cannes Film Festival, filmmaker Quentin Tantino said,

“Digital projections, that’s just television in public. And apparently the whole world is OK with television in public. But what I knew as cinema is dead.”

Let’s consider this: A young person grows up unable to attend movie theaters. He’s only able to watch movies on a TV set at home. Does that somehow cheapen the experience? There’s something wonderful about sharing an experience on a big screen with others. However, movies like The French Connection (1971) and Bullitt (1968) will hit home even on a 19″ TV screen hooked up to a cranky VCR.

A good movie transports us to a whole different place, helps us forget difficult aspects of our reality, and leaves us with a pleasant finish that may affect our lives. Is it the display medium or the story and performances that take precedence?

Meta Mazaj, senior lecturer in Cinema Studies at the Penn School of Arts and Sciences, wrote,

“The same technological transformations that announced the death of cinema … can also be seen as rebirth, because they were accompanied by an unprecedented vitality and richness and vigor in cinema.”

She also added,

“One of the main themes panelists considered was the lingering attachment to a definition of cinema that centers on traditional film technology, and theatrical viewing on a large screen.”

When we mature, we naturally reminisce. We grow up and take on all the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood that we pined for as children; then, we reminisce. We find ourselves buying our kids toy cars and saying “Boy, these sure don’t look and feel like they did.” And they don’t. They’re more cheaply made and don’t roll as far. Our kids can’t tell the difference, though.

George Orwell said,

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” So what is it in us that causes us to yearn for the past? Was it the clarity of youth that has been grayed out by the tough decisions and realities of adulthood?

Cinema is experiencing new life. Naturally, some of us will reminisce, recalling the older life’s familiar sights, sounds and colors, like the clatter coming from the projection booth. Growth is positive, though. We may agree with Mr. Tarantino, that perhaps a certain form of cinematic experience is falling by the wayside. In its place, a new one is emerging, just as beautiful and hopeful as it was for the last generation.

So, despite our initial notion that the toy car we just bought doesn’t look or feel like the real thing we grew up with, we still play with our kids and have a wonderful time. We even create all the sound effects that get that beautiful little face giggling.

Geoff Gilmore, of Tribeca Enterprises and 19-year director of Sundance, said,

“…regardless of how cinema is defined, audiences today are engaging in more ways with more types of works—and by that measure, cinephilia has never been stronger.”

Facebook just announced an app that, when activated on a smart phone, can listen in on a TV show we’re watching, and help us identify episode date and time, then use social media to post some of its audio. This makes sharing the experience richer, like nudging a friend in theater and saying, “Wow that was cool!” Some people may regard this technology as too intrusive; others will enjoy sharing favorite TV moments with a friend hundreds of miles away. 

Time to read up on HTML5 and get familiar with video hosting. On a panel discussion at USC School of Cinematic Arts, George Lucas said,

“What used to be the movie business, in which I include television and movies … will be Internet television.”

Steven Spielberg said,

“We’re never going to be totally immersive as long as we’re looking at a square, whether it’s a movie screen or whether it’s a computer screen. We’ve got to get rid of that and we’ve got to put the player inside the experience, where no matter where you look you’re surrounded by a three-dimensional experience. That’s the future.”

Get into Indiana Jones’ boots and replay Raiders of the Lost Ark? Sure thing.

~ Digital Cinema Training Staff


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