Christopher Nolan on the Digital Switchover and 3D

The DailyLA Weekly and DGA Quarterly

One of yesterday's most talked about stories sees a followup of sorts today. Gendy Alimurung opens her cover story for this week's LA Weekly, the one with the two-sentence title, "Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling," with Edgar Wright's recollection of a private screening late last year of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, which, of course, won't open until July: "'I have an ulterior motive for bringing you here,' the British director announced. And then he made a plea for 35mm film. Nolan pointed out that The Dark Knight Rises was made on celluloid. That he is committed to shooting on film, and wants to continue doing so. But, he warned, 35mm will be stamped out by the studios unless people — people like them — insist otherwise."

Today, Jeffrey Ressner's interview with Nolan, the DGA Quarterly's new cover story, offers the director an opportunity to elaborate: "For the last 10 years, I've felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I've never understood why. It's cheaper to work on film, it's far better looking, it's the technology that's been known and understood for a hundred years, and it's extremely reliable. I think, truthfully, it boils down to the economic interest of manufacturers and [a production] industry that makes more money through change rather than through maintaining the status quo…. I've kept my mouth shut about this for a long time and it's fine that everyone has a choice, but for me the choice is in real danger of disappearing."

And: "3D is a misnomer. Films are 3D. The whole point of photography is that it's three-dimensional. The thing with stereoscopic imaging is it gives each audience member an individual perspective. It's well suited to video games and other immersive technologies, but if you're looking for an audience experience, stereoscopic is hard to embrace. I prefer the big canvas, looking up at an enormous screen and at an image that feels larger than life. When you treat that stereoscopically, and we've tried a lot of tests, you shrink the size so the image becomes a much smaller window in front of you…. I think IMAX is the best film format that was ever invented. It's the gold standard and what any other technology has to match up to, but none have, in my opinion."

Earlier: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's series "Pandora's digital box"; and Leah Churner in the Voice and Doug Dibbern here in the Notebook on DCP.

And by the way, in many territories, you can watch Nolan's Memento (2000) here on MUBI for free.

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  • donhernandez1

    I agree with his statements on continuing the use of 35mm film and I definitely agree on his perspective when it comes to the 3D craze. It’s an overused gimmick that adds nothing to the film, save for an extra surcharge so you can get those cute little glasses that come with. I’m not a huge fan of much of Nolan’s work (save for Memento) the man knows how to make a film that’s for sure and it’s nice to see a mainstream blockbuster director like Nolan not buying into the gimmick and actually trying to maintain the use of 35mm over switching to digital.

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