“Part of a Much Larger Transformation” ⇒
Manohla Dargis, in conversation with A.O. Scott, on the transition from film to digital:
We’re not talking about the disappearance of one material — oil, watercolor, acrylic or gouache — we’re talking about deep ontological and phenomenological shifts that are transforming a medium. You can create a picture with oil paint or watercolor. For most of their history, by contrast, movies were only made from photographic film strips (originally celluloid) that mechanically ran through a camera, were chemically processed and made into film prints that were projected in theaters in front of audiences solely at the discretion of the distributors (and exhibitors). With cameras and projectors the flexible filmstrip was one foundation of modern cinema: it is part of what turned photograph images into moving photographic images. Over the past decade digital technologies have changed how movies are produced, distributed and consumed; the end of film stock is just one part of a much larger transformation.
This conversation has been going on for fifteen years or so, really since Dogme 95, with the main difference now being that we have hindsight to inform us what happens when we let Hollywood’s bottom line drive out legacy technologies. Still, it’s nice to see The New York Times letting their talented co-chief critics loose on the digital transition. These little back-and-forths have provided some of their best writing and most distilled arguments.