TV sets started out with very small, low quality screens, so yes, I can understand that a generation raised on good-quality theatre screenings wouldn’t want to watch a film on such a set
That in itself should tell you why I don’t want to watch a movie on a tiny portable screen. Because it is TINY. And if you make it bigger, I would say that defeats the purpose a bit, no? Unless you can suggest a way to come up with a 58-inch plasma like I have at home, in portable form…..
Sure. But, realistically, any viewing experience is slightly degraded from the ideal, and the more specific a standard one holds potential viewing experiences to, the fewer films one is able to see. Personally, I’d rather see more films with some of them being under less than ideal conditions, than fewer films that all adhere to to a set of technical specs.
I agree. Standards are good. Fewer films with better viewing.
“Less than ideal” is a bad theatre, or a poor home setup. Sometimes that’s all we have, and so be it.
Going from, say, even a 20-inch display down to a hand-held device is not “less than ideal”, it’s an esthetic destruction of the film.
That is not my personal opinion (although I fully agree), it is the inescapable reality of the impact of image size on how we perceive things.
By shoehorning “Touch of Evil”, “The Godfather” “Rules of the Game” or “2001” into such a stamp-sized device, one kills both the film, and, as importantly, one’s honest psychological ability to perceive it.
Size does matter with films. They are not CNN Headline News.
You watch what you can in theaters, not what you want..
I watched A Brighter Summer Day on my laptop. It clocks in at 3 hours and I was watching what looked like a vhs copy of a filmed screening of the film in which there were both english and mandarin subtitles. Not the best quality by any means, yet it’s one of the greatest and most affecting films I have ever seen.
The sad thing is that 99% of people don’t even think about this stuff. For them, a movie is a movie, whether they’re watching it in the theatre or on their iPhone. If they watch a film on their iPhone and aren’t impressed, it’s the movie’s fault. If they are on their computer doing homework while the movie plays on one half of the screen and they aren’t impressed, the movie must have ‘sucked’. “You’ll think you have experienced it, but you will be cheated.”
it is the inescapable reality of the impact of image size on how we perceive things.—-
No, all that is a perceptual preference based on your own experience. It has as much to do with how you’re accustomed to seeing films as it does with the actual screen itself. The size of the screen actuallly has very little to do with it. The human eye with 20/20 vision can detect or resolve details as small as 1/60th of a degree of arc . Up close, say at about a comfortable reading distance of around 18 inches, the average human eye can resolve 1/200 of an inch. There are other factors that play a role of course, but strictly speaking, an image being smaller, doesn’t necessarily effect the image the way you seem to think it does.
As I said before, I’m all in favor of larger images when it comes to cinema, but it’s also possible to get too hung up on the periphrials of the film-watching experience at the experience of its more important aspects.
The point here is not about size (I actually prefer a smaller cinema screen) it’s about ATTENTION. No matter how much you think you are taking it all in because you have got a bigger than average TV, your attention span is simply not there as it would be in a cinema so that the small details that distinguish a piece of cinema from a TV drama are lost or become less important. Obviously some films fare better than others from the transfer but it’s usually the more cinematic that suffer.
In some ways it’s like saying listening to a CD is the same as going to a concert. Or that a a TV drama has the same emotional impact as live theatre.
There’s truly nothing like seeing a film on the big screen. I just enjoy being able to sit back in the middle of a theater and see a film take up a huge screen. It angers me so much that all the great films I love I will never get the opportunity to see in a theater.
If one has a big enough television set and enjoys watching films by themselves or with family, a home theater is great. I think watching a film on a mobile device should be someone’s absolute last resort. I can not imagine watching a film on my iTouch…ever.
I have to actually mention here that I saw Seven Samurai on the big screen, and it did nothing for me watching it on a television or my computer didn’t do. I was rather surprised to discover this, but that fact still remains one of those really important moments in cinema spectatorship where I realized some things don’t need to be projected wide to work.
However, watching Alien on the big screen changed everything I thought that movie was about.
All right, I’m game, how did seeing Alien on the big screen change what you thought it was about? Or what was the difference in thinking?
Well I always understood that there were sexual implications, but I didn’t realize how far they informed the movie. For instance, that scene where the guy is almost choked to death with the magazine—on the big screen, you can see that it’s a porn magazine.
And when you see the movie to that amount of detail, especially the facial reactions of the characters and so on, you begin to understand that it’s a seduction story. The alien is after Ripley in a whole different way. On the small screen, the whole Ripley stripping at the end seemed like an easy titillation for geeks who made it that far but still wanted some boob shots, but not quite.
I see what you mean. Since I saw Alien on the big screen first, that didn’t occur to me since I always “saw” those things even if I couldn’t literally see them.
In regards to Seven Samurai, I’ve often found that action oriented films lose far less on the small screen than more intimate dramas do, partly out of detail as you mentioned, but also due to the difference in the way I pay attention at home versus at the theater. Even if I didn’t have cats, I think my apartment is far more distracting than a movie theater, or at least one not filled with teenagers, so it is a little more difficult to focus sometimes, although home does have the advantage of being able to rewind if I felt I didn’t catch something.
Anything by Stanley Kubrick should be seen on a Big Screen.
I saw both No Country for Old Men and Black Swan on the Big Screen and damn, I am so glad.
And it is not only for the visuals but for the sound and score as well.
There are some big works that simply overwhelm you in a theatre:
“The 10 Commandments”
“Lawrence of Arabia”
I have seen the above on a Cinerama screen in 70mm, powered by 5000 watts of light and heavy-duty analog Dolby sound and while I will eventually own all of these on Blu-Ray, it would take one hell of a rec room with an industrial digital projector to get even a resemblence of the quality and the impact of those films in 70mm.
“Alien” and “The Empire Strikes Back” in 70mm are both amazing. With films like these, the big screen wakes up your inner movie child and lets you get transported away like when you first started loving cinema.
With “70” on the endangered list, anything you can catch in 35mm is a bonus.
I love “Glengarry GlenRoss” but as well-shot as the film is, it doesn’t strike me as a film that would “gain” as much in a theatre. The kitchen-sink realism plays well on my 58-inch plasma.
Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road” and “Fish Bowl” are excellent, well-thought out dramas, but, again, I don’t feel they have a lot visually or emotionally that a large display or a projector can’t deliver.
In a just world, everything would come to a theatre near you in 35mm or 70mm :-)
Seek out theatres that run 35mm. Even with projection standards slipping, your eyes will be glad you did, and it will be a lodestone for any display option you choose at home or on the road.
Size matters. Perhaps just my opinion, but the smaller the image gets, something goes. Something you can only compensate for so much in your head.
“Pink Flamingos” is definitely an audience picture. It was so much fun to count the walkouts. All these punky “alternative” types…ha, ha!
At the other end of the scale—in many respects—films like “2001” and “Lawrence of Arabia” are bloody awesome on the big screen. I get to see “2001” regularly in 70mm and let me tell you, kiddies, Digital is NOT superior to 70mm, never has been, never can be.
Films like “Baraka” wouldn’t be the same on television.
I’m generally very reluctant to go to the cinema. My opinion is that nothing can top a big screen and I’m very happy to go see Tarr’s new film The Turin Horse in Edinburgh. But most of the time I rely on DVDs. It’s not so much that I enjoy watching films in a small screen. I simply have a problem with most audiences. When I watched Le Quattro Volte, which was a beautiful and stunning film, I was annoyed having mobile phones around me, people eating crisps and kids who loved seeing baby goats. I felt like being at a fun fair. It took away the nice cinematic experience I wanted to have. Le Quattro Volte has an intriguing sound scape, yet if you can’t hear it for obvious reasons, you don’t get anything out of it.
When I’m alone at home, I can focus on all those little details without being disturbed. I can be in my own little world getting fully into the film without always being woken up by disturbances through the people around me. It’s fine if you have a film which doesn’t contain anything else than images. There’s nothing beyond it, so you don’t need to make sense of the film in your head. But if you have a truly artistic, philosophical film, I prefer watching it at home.
So size doesn’t really matter. It’s what you get out of it.
These days, if you come across a truly artistic, philosophical film in a theatre, you may in fact be alone there…
I fully agree about terrible audiences; we complain regularly about them here.
I thought that as well, but it’s not generally the case. Le Quattro Volte is not so much artistic, but highly philosophical. It was nearly sold out on that day. I thought it would be empty. In February, I watched Shahada alone with my boyfriend. Neither of the films are exactly the ‘norm’. Let’s see how many people will watch The Turin Horse with me, and if they can shut up :)
I do look forward to “The Turin Horse” myself, and I would love to see that (and everything else by Tarr) in a theatre.
In watching the HD stream from Netflix of “The Man From London” on my plasma, the film just begs for a larger screen given its incredible texture and mood. It is not a “top nothch” film as Tarr goes, but boy does it have a number of stunning scenes.
So I recently watched Casablanca on the big screen, and what a glorious experience it was. Now, the experience really surprised because I didn’t think the film would benefit from the big screen treatment as much as it did—since it’s more of a character based drama, with mostly interior scenes. But the difference between seeing the film in the theater versus at home was significant—specifically the “wattage” of the stars seemed much more intense. There are other differences, but this one stands out; seeing gigantic head shots of Bogart and Bergman overwhelmed me (in a good way), and I wonder if other older Hollywood films that feature great movie stars would benefit in the same way. What do other people think?
It always makes a difference. Always.
btw – I saw Casablanca a couple years ago at the American Cinematheque as a double feature with The Good German. Soderbergh was there and prefaced his film as not deserving of being on the same bill as this classic.
Boy, was he right.
Really? That hasn’t been my experience. (Hopefully, I can think of an example.)
I would gladly pay triple or possibly even quadruple the ticket price for a theater that strictly barred any kind of food and/or beverage on the premises, and also maintained a policy where if you talk or make any excessive noise of any kind during a viewing beyond laughter they are allowed, and in many ways obligated, to exact physical violence on said offender.
Were but I a rich man…
All silent films should be watched in big screen. Also contemplative cinema, like Angelopoulos or Tarr is much better then.
Never watched a WKW or Lynch movie in big screen but must be awesome.
Films with heavy dialog’s (W. Allen, Cassavetes etc… ) i enjoy it more in regular screen.
All silent films should be watched in big screen. Also contemplative cinema, like Angelopoulos or Tarr is much better then.
I would add all those films here where the scenery plays some kind of role (going out on a limb: including westerns and such), and definitely those with lots of special effects, that somehow lose the impact on the small screen.
But, just as Alex, I prefer the regular computer/TV screen for “talkative” films (the ones with lots of dialogue), and also in the cases when it’s not the first time viewing and want to pause it here and there to take a seriously good look at a detail of it (a building, artwork etc.) or I’m looking for alternate subtitles in more languages (especially in the case of Chinese or Japanese films, if wanting to be sure that I got the true meaning of what they say).
lawrence of arabia, antonioni’s filmography (bar oberwald), the early felllinis, tarkovsky, jean renoir, angelopoulos, kurosawa – need the big screen
some of godards, woody allens, jarmusch – dont
Most films are better on the big screen.
Though i found Eternal Sunshine to be better on the PC, more intimate emotionally perhaps.
Any film is going to profit from being shown on a big screen — there’s just no two ways about it. There are films that can be watched on a smaller screen without the experience being entirely diminished, of course.
Hard to say what’s going to work on a small screen and what won’t. I can say that there’s something about Pabst’s PANDORA’S BOX that never reaches me on homevideo — it works well enough, I guess, but I’ve been absolutely bowled over by it only when I see it in a theater, most recently at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in a sold-out screening on a huge screen with live music that I damn near had to be carried out of when it was all over.
On the other hand, the first time I saw Tarr’s SATANTANGO on a big screen I quite simply fell asleep. The spirit was willing, the flesh was simply unable. I was sufficiently impressed with what I saw to buy the U.S. home video release, as badly mastered as it is, and watched the first half of the film on my laptop on a cross-country flight, and was held spellbound by it. It was certainly no substitute for seeing the entire film on a big screen, which I was able to finally do a couple of years later (thank GOD I live in NYC where screenings happen every few years).
I always prefer to watch films on the big screen. I even wait months for films I know will be shown at some point here, even if they came on DVD first.
Still, some of my most memorable experiences watching movies happened on the small screen, with no one around me. Yes, even 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The real war should be focused against the travesty that is Pan & Scan.