I like Gerhard’s comment that “film died in 1927.” His point, or the way I take it, is that the advent of sound irrevocably changed ‘film’ forever, destroying an old medium (silent film) and creating a new one (sound film). A similar thing is happening today, as digital film-making and digital internet distribution are re-making film and essentially destroying the old world of studios, auteurs, film stock, theaters, art houses and critics. Whether YouTube qualifies as ‘cinema’ is up to you, but in my mind when we talk about ‘cinema’ we are talking about a historical movement now behind us, even as the creation and consumption of moving images become more and more central to our daily lives.
It’s only existed for 100 years. It can’t die, it’s maybe hit a bit of rough patch, but there’s alot to be accomplished.
It’s changing, what with the internet and streaming, hell even this site where we can watch movies in the library. Distribution is dying as Ian has put it, but people will always be willing to make stories regardless of this and find a way to get them out there. It’s funny because film seems to be circling on itself with this resurgence of 3-D, it would seem that the gimmickry of film is coming back. I have no idea where things are going but I will enjoy the ride with the rest of you.
I can’t believe no one has brought up virtual reality or video games. Video games are becoming more and more “cinematic”. They tell stories, have detailed dialogue and action,and use a lot of the same techniques that film uses in order to create a believable and engaging world. More importantly, they allow a person to actually interact with the content itself and influence the outcome of the story. The main problem is that its not a serious medium at the time. It has to be marketed towards a young demographic so no matter how sophisticated it can be, most games revolve around killing things or blowing things up. If you want to have a complex story, thats fine, as long as it also includes a large helping of violence. With the Nintendo Wii, more adults and older people are playing video games, as well as the offerings of casual games for computers and the Xbox 360. As more and more older people begin to play videogames and become tech savy, then there will be a market for more serious and emotionally engaging titles. At some point in time there may even be a genre for “Art games”. Then with the inevitable introduction of virtual reality, the limitations of the 2D image will be conquered and more and more immersive experiences will be offered. At that point I think cinema will be dead. Who is going to want to sit in a darkened room watching images flicker on a screen when they can take part in their own stories? It may take a long time to get to this point, but I think there has already been a significant drop off in theater attendence due to video games. It’s something that will have to be taken into account when thinking about the death of cinema.
erm…Richard….“I was talking to a game developer the other day, high up in his field, working for Lucas arts —I asked him what the major challenges facing his industry were in the coming years —and he told me two things. 1) the next major leap for interactive gaming is how to engage the player emotively in the story —and to this end they are employing screenwriters from Hollywood to write scripts. and 2) cinematography, to which end they are employing cinematographers to work alongside the visual artists….his eyes were shining with revolutionary glee —as if his artform was emerging from an infancy akin to the Lumiere brothers, and beginning to see the horizon of DWGriffith and beyond.”
I did bring it up. Two months ago. First page of the thread. I agree with you.
Films have never been less artistic, less personal, less exciting than they are today. The great communal discussions over films like 2001 or Persona or any of Godard’s films in the 60s are not happening today because people are not making difficult films anymore (for the most part) and no one would be that interested anyway. The good films that are still coming every now and then are more accidental than anything else, and they quickly become neutralized as commodities — i.e., the two-disc special edition that turns a challenging film like Pan’s Labyrinth into just another expensive possession. The best films are probably being made underground by individuals we’ve never heard of, and whom we are not likely to hear of, because even New York City has gotten out of the business of identifying the edgy cult artists of today, who go on to become the classics of tomorrow. It’s a very impacted moment culturally, but it’s true for books, music, the visual arts, theater, everything.
Oops, skimmed some of the pages. I’ll read more thoroughly next time.
That’s alright mate, it happens. I’m just happy someone else recognizes what’s going on around them. There’s this incredible car crash of technologies coming, and it’s going to upturn everything, forever. It’s right there, in the peripheral vision of everyone engaged with contemporary media.
Some interesting comments here, in case anyone hasn’t seen this and would like to add to the discussion.
The majority of filmwork is craftsmanship, not artistry, but this has always been the case. Look at any alleged “golden age” of cinema and most of the films made at that time are quotidian. It’s just that these films get edited out of the official record by not been shown in repertory cinemas/released on video/written about. 2008 was a record year:
but they don’t want to boast about it right now. Particularly in Hollywood, things are cyclical, and things will eventually return to conditions where artistry is more highly valued again.
Its to young to die. Music, theater, literature, theses have been around for thousands of years. Cinemas just a baby, it has centuries to go before its matured and can bite the dust.
If anything is “ruining” cinema it’s the viewers- who no longer watch to think, fell passion, and appreciate art- but to get a cheap thrill or be entertained.
As long as there are viewers like most of us here on the auteurs- cinema will stay alive!
I’m sorry but I find this question ridiculous in nature. Not only is cinema not dying but I believe that cinema is finally coming into an age where it can be considered a legitimate art form to even the harshest critic. Thanks to film makers like Andrei Tarkovsky who made it their goal to turn film into an art form as varied and respected as painting film across the world has an illustrious history. Filmmaking was born in this country at the turn of the century and in its first thirty years explored the concept of capturing motion. Directors of the silent era cried that film was dead when talkies first started coming out and then the art began to grow with more agile cameras and color. I feel saying cinema is dying now would be the equivalent of seeing Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol’s work and saying painting is dead. We are at a point in film history where making films can be as inexpensive and effortless as taking out your cell phone and making a short. To those of you that say thats not art and thats not cinema you are turning your nose up at an art form that can finally be available to the average person. At this time of recession and world change we have many young artists who have the means to interpret the world around them with video art and then mass distribute it. Youtube famous can now be short hand in our culture for cult fandom. Look at what the legendary Sadie Benning did with Fisher-Price Pixel-vision camcorder. So to all of you bemoaning this pinnacle time in cinema history as the end, I say sit back shut up and let the rest of us who know the score seize the day and make the art we love and will neurosis till our time is done and the next generation is ready to innovate and expand.
I wouldn’t say that cinema is dying but it is going through a decline. That is at least here in the US. But there some great forigen films & even just a handful of talented filmakers across the world could revitalize the medium. Even if some of the artists aren’t out there yet people will still make films. I’m sure some of you have made your on with just computer software and your imaginations. So if it were to die it would be tragic but it may give rise to new ways of making and presenting films. Maybe the medium needs to be altered or reinvented in some way. That would be a breath of fresh air.
It has gotten stale though generaly speaking though.
My initial kneejerk reaction would be to say, No, no, a thousand times no. I actually think that mainstream movies have gotten a tad more interesting, lately; Hollywood has one of its biggest first quarters in ages; and certainly where I stand as a student and a filmmaker, I’m surrounded by many a creative filmmaker who has a lot to offer in the future.
I see, reading through this thread, that the issue is, are cinemas (the cultural locations of movie makers and movie goers) and thus cinema (the culture itself) dying? And meditating over it, the answer is…
I mean, what? The classics we speak about on this board are merely a small fraction, a tiny percentile of the cinema that has been made—ever. There was just as much crap floating around the Golden Age of Hollywood as there is now, though most of it hasn’t been put on DVD. Blockbusters haven’t done anything to ruin cinema, they’ve allowed Hollywood to make bank so that they can create more cinema (have you ever noticed that independant films are in decline, and then rise up again, and then in decline, and then rise up again? It’s because when you have 3 billion dollars to spend on movies, you don’t mind giving a small wad to that crazy Wes Anderson kid to make that short films of his into a feature length. When that movie doesn’t make you another 3 billion, it’s time to release the next Bond film). Commercialized indie films haven’t done anything to ruin cinema, they’ve inspired chunks of people to make their own movies (yes everyone hates them the ego that is Tarantino. And yet how many people have been inspired to make movies because of Tarantino?).
Yes, Hollywood is a business, and think in terms of business, not art. Their idea of production is in terms of marketing, packaging, buying, and selling. But if you get so offended that people enjoy watching Isaac Asimov’s art being turned into a two-hour commercial for Apple (and iRobot was pretty damned offensive, don’t get me wrong) that you think that another Kieslowski won’t come along, then you’re sorely misguided.
Want my proof? You.
We’re all on this board, talking about (mostly) the same movies in (mostly) the same terms. We’ve shown interest in abstract, experimental, poetic, emotional, classic, cult, and art house cinema. We’re not a huge demographic, but quite frankly I think I’d go out of my mind with misery if I had to debate Fellini at every party I go to. Also, the main reason I don’t end up watching too many, say, mindless action movies, is because I can watch just a small few and get the point—but I don’t mind watching them. It’s just that I know how they work and how they’ll end, so they’re not quite as interesting. But I need me some ‘splosions, too, and if Hollywood takes that money and runs I’m okay with it.
I work at a video store and I have to deal with the fact that people simply aren’t interested in most of what I watch. I show them a rental and they say, “Nah, I’ll try the new Asian-horror-film-turned-shitty-American-film instead.” As frustrating as it is, I know I can’t change them and I know that it’s a lost cause. But there’s something important to note: I offer them a rental. Because it’s there. On the shelf. Right next to the remake.
And, yeah. Multiplexes? Make ‘em bigger, not smaller. Why? More screens=more room for a variety of cinema. I love my local movie theatre, the one with the single screen and the cramped-in seating, where I enjoy myself with (most recently) Woman in the Dunes with roughly a few dozen other people. But I also love giant theatres with big, recliner-esque cushy seating and too much disgusting popcorn and soda than is good for me. The experience. The experience I share with hundreds of people practically every week. Or the second run theatre, where I take people’s tendency to bring small screamy children and keep their cellphones on as invitation to laugh, cry, cheer, and loudly criticize the cheaper Hollywood movies that no one cares about—and it’s kind of its own unique culture at the specific one I go to, where everyone else is doing the exact same in order to distract themselves from the fifteen year olds giving each other blow-jobs two aisles down.
You could read that as cinema dying, but I’m reminded of all the times Scorsese waxes nostalgic over those magical moments inside the darkened theatre, and I guarantee you that fucker was getting his pipes pumped on occasion. Just look at how old movies treat old movies: crowds and movement and interacting with the movie. So it changed a bit and sober contemplation became the norm. That works beautifully, beautifully, too! Silence as everyone breathlessly enjoys the mesmerizing images… that’s great too! Hell, it fits some movies. Other movies I wish people’d get a little more rowdy over. “Uh, guys? You’re allowed to laugh during Burn after Reading, because it’s actually really funny.”
If you find any of that unappealing, then realize that all three theatres are their own separate culture. If YOU feel cinema is dying, then it’s YOUR job to create the culture. Start a movie festival. Let’s all consider the idea of pooling resources to create a distribution label for independent cinema. To quote Lloyd Kaufman, real high-art there, “Make your own goddamned movie”. I’m serious, if you see a need then fill it.
Meanwhile, I honestly believe that the concept of “underground” is fading away and the concept of “niche” is strengthening in replacement. The Internet means that information is really accessible, so FINDING movies is much easier. I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that half of you reading this heard about Satantango the first time on the Internet. I did. If I didn’t have the Internet, I feel pretty sure I would never have tried out Ichi the Killer, because I would have looked at the cover and thought it looked stupid. Now I’m a veritable Miike whore, I’ll watch anything he makes (and believe me, Osaka Tough Guys was pppprreeetttyyy bad…). If cinema was dying like people fear, I don’t think a tenth of Miike’s output (that is, eight movies) would have even made it over here. But there’s a lot of room, and roughly half of his movies are available in region one (that is, forty movies).
Which brings me to another point: DVD. SO much more accessible than VHS and even Laserdisc (flipping it over? Ughhh). And now you can create/recreate a cinema in your very own home. Gigantic screens, surround sound… invite your friends over and have some popcorn… what’s the problem?!
“Is cinema dying?” What that question is basically asking, in the end, is, “Do you think any good movies will come out anymore of the quality that they were before?” If your answer to that is no, then you’ve decided before they’ve even come out how you’re going to judge them. You’re also falling into the tendency too many people have, that whole “In the good old days” fallacy. People decry how lazy filmmakers are because they use CGI—and yet CGI has vastly improved over a very short period of time and has opened up new landscapes for filmmakers to explore, while the very software used to create it is becoming more accessible and cheap for independents to get their hands on. They decry that video is taking away film, and yet more film is being bought up in bulk by experimental creators because they want it, while video is getting nearer and nearer the quality of film—at vastly reduced prices (you guys have heard of the Red Scarlet, right?). People decry that it’s all sequels, adaptations, and remakes. ‘Cause, like, Kubrick’s movies were from original screenplays. And cinema to a large part developed its form by using previously known stories for recognition. People decry that contemporary filmmakers’ focuses on stuff like 3-D and other spectacles are taking away from the story; I say they’re the new musicals. Spectacle and kitsch, with it’s own logic.
The cellphones going off in the theatre can actually be used to make movies now. I find that a good thing. Sorry, but I do. Social networking sites mean people are chatting online rather than escaping to a darkened theatre. It also means that filmmakers of like minds can contact each other and help each other make really good movies.
I mean, I happen to go to a book reading board at the Internet Book Database of Fiction (ibdof.com), and there the people are complaining about the same damn thing in print. “Oh noes print is dying; oh dear, people don’t read anymore; why don’t people read good books; why aren’t they educated in the art of good literature; there just isn’t anybody writing War & Peace anymore!” I don’t know a whole lot about music, but I bet you anything I’M the very topic music enthusiasts are complaining about on their boards: “Oh noes good music is dying; oh dear people just don’t know how to write songs anymore; why do people not understand John Cage; why do people listen to what BMG says is good music as opposed to what Pitchfork says is good music; can anybody ever truly surprise us in music anymore?” Never mind POD, ebook readers, downloading sites, social networking for concert promotion, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
…in some dank, tiny corner of the Internet….
…where digital cockroaches sleep engorged on the digital rot and a digital fireplace barely illuminates the digital room where two cantankerous old grumps (who are, like, seventeen or something, seriously…) bitch softly about how no one really APPRECIATES it and only likes the BAD STUFF…
…people are talking about the lost art of the radio drama and debating loudly over whether podcasts can ever recreate the experience.
Of course it is not dying!
Cinema easily crossed difficult decades like the 1980s… I think that the 1990s and even the 2000s have given us better films!
People don’t go to the theater to think, rather to be entertained or get a cheap thrill, which also means the attention spans are dropping. When people couldn’t understand the ending of No Country for Old Men, they immediately put it down. Once again, we want everything to be force fed to us, and if we don’t understand something— The movie must be crap.. To add, there is a general lack of appreciation for fine art in today’s society. Has this always been how it was though? My grandmother told me they used to go to the movies to see the stars— Bogart, Grant, Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, etc. Sounds familiar to what most people do today, except back then they were better actors and quality pictures.
Well, any new thoughts out there on this topic? Appreciate the perspective of anyone who would like to comment on this topic or thread.
This is sort of a silly question because the answer is an unequivical NO. When cinema dies, I shall die with it.
There may be ebes and flows in quality but I don’t think cinema is anywhere near extinction. Regardless of DVDs, the internet, or any other technology, the theater going experience will never disappear the same way live theater has not died despite the advent of film, radio, TV, etc.
And with the advent of digital cameras, amatuers are now getting the opportunity to learn how to communicate through the language of cinema in ways they weren’t before. Yes there are plenty of awful movies being released by studios but I’m still constantly surprised at how many truly great, unique films are being produced (either independently or from other countries). It’s just a matter of seeking them out and not relying on AMC or Regent theaters to represent the state of contemporary cinema.
It is certainly going to go through some changes, but it is young still.
Cinema is dead, film is dead, originality is dead, art in general is dead. Life is a useless melange of TV, the internet, and hopelessness that has killed all that was once wonderful in the world.
my personal feeling is absolutely not.
I’ll try not to ramble off into random-ness territory here, I’ll also try to keep this as succinct as possible. Cinema is much like music for me. Its something that simply doesn’t die.
Roberto is very much right on about observing vile and oppressive practices everyday, in the industry. When I was working steady in “the industry” (Hollywood South as some local media outlets were calling it) I observed a giant wasteful unsustainable business model. A factory that was on its last bit of generator juice. Traditional forms of distribution and financing are going away, if they are even still around… New things are happening. Both good and bad, yadda yadda, I could go off into a Luddite techno babble rant about the double edge sword effects of mass media and the internet, but I’ll save that for another thread. But to answer your question…. no, I don’t think cinema will ever die…. just as I don’t think painting or music will ever die.
the rapper EL-P said something that was pretty cool. He was basically saying how all these major label rappers were whining about the “death of hiphop” all the time. Yet he continued to churn out ill record after ill record, he kept doing his thing DIY style. So he said that the corporate rappers are upset because corporate/major label hiphop is dying but real hiphop ain’t dying and in fact, its still going strong. I grew up on Minor Threat and I have a very DIY attitude in general, that goes well beyond my filmmaking interests. So I think that maybe this corporate “Indiewood” bullsh*t business model might be dying but real cinema doesn’t die.
just my 2 cents.
Col.Dax, I’m often on the verge of really believing what you’ve said. And then I always realize it’s total, utter, bullshit. No offense, man, but it is.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of soul-crushing things in this world. And I never could overstate that, because there is so much very real and very disgustingly horrible shit in the world. I’m not just talking about stuff like genocide either, but also stuff like mass marketing and advertising that has overall had as shitty of an impact on the world. But there is still always some sort meaning within things, and it is always (and will always be) up to you to find that meaning for yourself.
It’s the “art is dead” attitude that is complicit with the lazily soulless attitude of our age that allows that oppressiveness to flourish and make goddamned sure that nothing original or interesting will spring up. I’m glad I’m an artist, because it makes me more aware and infinitely optimistic about the possibilities even when I know I can never scratch their surface. There really is so much out there that hasn’t been unearthed and explored yet, and it’ll be up to some really perceptive people to do just that.
No, it’s not dead, it’s just in the process of moving across town.
Cinema is, like all art, a reflection of our society and our society seems to be devolving instead of progressing. Technology and hyperconsumerism are choking us without our even realizing it while Postmodernism is laughing in the background. In a more rational culture, we could at least be making great films that question what the hell is going on in our world, at least satirize the insanity but the reality is that studios are run by greedy, conservative multinationals who rely on market research from its customers instead of auteurs and writers. It will take quite some time for cinema to find its heart again, and although Godard stated in this interview:
that cinema is over I’m more inclined to say it’s comatose like the rest of society, waiting for something meaningful to wake us up again. Sites like this will hopefully trigger a Renaissance in cinema that is badly needed. I think however, that the problem is much deeper this time and although I agree with many of the comments here that art is cyclical once we can see beyond the thin veneer of money and materialism again I’m sure the ‘poetry’ will return. I’m beginning to think it will take rebels and fighters to balk the system—we need a revolution of sorts.
“Col.Dax, I’m often on the verge of really believing what you’ve said. And then I always realize it’s total, utter, bullshit. No offense, man, but it is.”
I laughed real hard at that, thanks Liz. If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s bullshit, but that’s not to say I’m not right.
It’s all about the audience. As long as they continue to pay for sub par movies, people will still be making sub par movies. I’m sure many filmmakers have great conceptual films but are slammed down by either the producers, or studios because they don’t think they will sell, and or are looking for something specific that they think will sell.
When Johnny Depp first did Captain Jack Sparrow, everyone thought he was crazy. They wanted a serious type character, but Johnny Depp did it his way and didn’t care what anyone thought. Then KABOOM, it becomes a world entertaining movie. So sometimes, it’s not even the filmmakers, it’s just their hands are tied and maybe they don’t want to step out of the box.
Most movies today are repackaged movies. The studios want to make sure they get their money back, and since it’s a new generation that hasn’t seen this formula yet, they’ll buy into it. But it’s only because they haven’t seen anything revolutionary yet. For example, I remember being like eleven years old, and when I saw Star Wars in the movie theater, I was mesmerized. I’ve seen a bunch of movies before, but it took seeing a ship of that magnitude to make an impression on me.
I do think tv is dead, I also think movies are dead, (let me explain). but it’s only because people are so bombarded by visual content, it’s just not important anymore. Their minds are saturated by visual content.. It’s really a sign of the tv/film times when many of the shows on tv are reality shows. These mediums can come alive again but there has to be a change in the people, the viewers.
What has to be done? In this age where it looks like digital is kicking celluloid to the curb? That’s easy, look to the future and see what’s going on. Be visionary. See, the other day I heard blockbuster is closing because their getting beat up by netflix and itunes, they never changed with the times. They saw it coming but figured they were inpenetrable, now they’re closing. So filmmakers will have to look passed the present shifting, to how thing will be. This is personal, everyone will see something different, but those are the people that will succeed.