Quentin Tarantino and the end of cinema

Two blog posts in one week … I know.

This past year at Cannes, Quentin Tarantino declared cinema to be dead. What he actually said is “digital projection … is the death of cinema as we know it.” Maybe that’s accurate in some ways. In other ways, I think it’s way off. If cinema is defined as images captured on celluloid projected onto a large screen at 24 fps (25 in Europe) for public consumption, then yes, cinema is dead. However, only partially dead. Maybe mostly dead, for those familiar with The Princess Bride.

If you look at my definition above, the only thing that changes with digital projection is the absence of celluloid. In other words, maybe the definition has only been slightly altered: Cinema is defined as images captured digitally projected onto a large screen at 24 fps (25 in Europe) for public consumption. That’s not so bad now, is it?

I know the Purists say, “Yes! That is so bad!” Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a purist. Purists keep vinyl and high quality tape alive in audio recording. But purists are an outlier in the curve of entertainment lovers. My question for Quentin Tarantino is, “Is there room for those who embrace digital technology in your definition of cinema?” What about the young filmmaker who couldn’t dream of affording the thousands of dollars it takes to shoot, develop, and finish film, but she can get her hands on a DSLR? What about the independent who can more easily increase the scope of his project shooting digitally?

What about the audience? Yes, the Purists will see right through digital projection. They’ll miss the shakiness and imperfections of celluloid. But for everyone else in the curve, do you believe they won’t enjoy a good story told my a good storyteller if it’s shot digitally?

Obviously, this is a conversation that needs to happen and will continue to happen as digital becomes the way-of-life for filmmakers, both amateur and professional. While I am not sure I agree with Mr. Tarantino, I appreciate his opinion — because the opinions of guys like him matter.


Photo credit: from Screenmusings.org


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