George Lucas, David Fincher, and Martin Scorsese discuss the death of film in this Keanu Reeves-narrated doc....
Docurama / 99 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: February 5, 2013
Call me a grump, but the question doesn’t seem so much to be “Will digital media replace film?” as “When did film die?” I remember distinctly being floored by the notion that Zodiac was shot in a digital format: when I watched David Fincher’s extraordinary retro true crime saga, I had no idea that celluloid had a very little role in it. And that was more than five years ago.
In Side by Side, Keanu Reeves (yes, Keanu Reeves) takes us on a journey through both a cursory history of film and digital technology – as far as how they connect to the moviegoing experience – and discusses the evolution of the art form with many of its most recognizable movers and shakers. George Lucas gets a chance to tell Keanu to wake up and smell the coffee in terms of digital’s dominant presence in the filmmaking workplace, and the Wachowskis seem to be happily liberated of the leaden constraints of celluloid cameras.
The most fascinating discussion topic here, though, is somewhat of an ancillary one in the dissection of the digital takeover of Hollywood. Recognizing that film has officially died, when Keanu asks David Lynch point-blank if he’ll ever shoot a 35mm film again, Lynch characteristically begs Keanu ‘not to quote him on this’, then answers succinctly that he doesn’t think that scenario will ever present itself. Lynch and folks like James Cameron and Lucas don’t know why you’d go back to film.
The most logical point in this perspective is multiplex quality control. If you’re dealing with a hard-drive projection-computer kind of thing, one’s ability to distinguish exactly what the end result image is supposed to be is significantly higher than dealing with film prints, projectionists, and the myriad of mistakes that can occur at every turn in that process. Yes, one looses the immediacy of film, but Fincher had many of us fooled five years ago, so cinema purists can still complain, but they’ll do so while watching digitally-projected movies at their neighborhood theater that look just like the real thing (and maybe even better).