Recently, my reader was invaded by news from Cannes. All sources were posting headlines referring to Tarantino’s statement using some combination of the following words: Tarantino, Digital, Projection, Death and Cinema. I have respect and admiration for Tarantino’s work. But, when I read ”digital projection is the death of cinema,” I could not resist to feel somehow disappointed.
Then of course, when you add the words “As far as I’m concerned” in front of the same statement, one can more easily understand the difference between The Death of Cinema and the Death of Tarantino’s Cinema. For example, Charles Chaplin was resistant to the introduction of sound, and that (amongst other aspects of his life) was the Death of Chaplin’s Cinema. We all fall in love with certain aspect of the experience. They might depend on our age, location, personal taste and… luck. But isn’t cinema something bigger than just the medium of film?
I invite anyone believing the magic of cinema is dependent on the flickering of a film projector and the qualities of the grain to sit down and watch 90min of film noise at 24fps. What about the stories, the script, the directions, the cinematography, the cast, the art direction, the music, the sound effects, the editing, and all the other elements that were imagined, designed, created always keeping in mind the cinematic experience the audience will hopefully enjoy in the theatre; at the cinema?
I understand Tarantino, but I also believe that if he were to be an aspiring filmmaker in 2014 his view of Digital Cinema could also be different. Certainly, many have abused the digital medium, providing content that felt like video games and TV, this at the same time when video games and TV were becoming more cinematic. However, when shooting digital for “Cinema” many keep in mind the experience in the theatre. I have seen directors moving into a position where the field monitor would feel as large as a cinema screen (even if this mean sticking their nose into it). I have seen editors (probably inspired by Walter Murch) place little paper-cut ‘humans’ in front of their monitors as a reminder.
Tarantino’s cinema is best seen on film. I truly believe so. His films are made for that medium; it is part of the style. If I were to point out a negative aspect of digital filmmaking in my limited experience, it would be the diminished respect towards the take. The cost of film seemed to create a greater level of concentration and respect during a take. Instead of shooting “the hell out of it”, the take was more often rehearsed and executed with care. Cinema is cinema because of the respect it receives, from the makers and the audience. Most of the famous quotes you will find online expressing love for the magic of cinema seldom mention the celluloid.