I’ve got to admit that when I saw that Martin Scorsese was apparently ‘quitting film’ I nearly had a minor heart attack – Marty has shaped a lot of my film experience and his enthusiasm for the medium and auteur status was part of the reason I developed a strong interest in the whole area. Luckily, it was all a little bit misleading. What was actually the case was that Marty was abandoning film reel in favour of digital, not the practise of making film. Well, there’s a sigh of relief!
It’s sad though that a form of capturing film that has been used for over a hundred years is losing its biggest champion. Scorsese has been restoring old fim stock and classics such as The Red Shoes for posterity, but it seems that even he thinks that it’s a lost cause in the age of digital technology. His long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker said: “The number of prints that are now being made for release has just gone down, and it would appear that the theatres have converted so quickly to digital.” Scorsese’s last picture, Hugo, was, perhaps ironically, a film about the birth of cinema that was shot in digital and it seems as though he has no intentions of giving up digital now (although he is abandoning 3D after his foray with Hugo, thank God) – he’s using the format to shoot his latest movie The Wolf of Wall Street, which starts production in August.
It’s all a bit sad but it seems like a strangely familiar story…
Oh yes, that’s right. There was a mass abandoning of CDs and vinyl when the internet and newer technologies took over the music industry, and everyone thought that the old formats would die. But events such as Record Store Day, led by stores, bands and labels such as Rough Trade, have increased the nostalgia and demand for the vinyl format and the market is growing. Albeit, it’s never likely to take over the internet and digital media as a way of consuming and buying music but it shows that people never really forget what came in the past.
Now, obviously people aren’t going to have piles of film reels lying around their houses and a musty old film projector to watch them in their own homes, but I daresay within a while there’ll be events dedicated to showing old film reels, shunning the old ways. A new generation of directors might even want to create their work on this format to give a more ‘authentic’ or ‘classic’ feel.
Perhaps then, despite this rather sad news that potentially marks the end of an era, there’s a lot of hope that film reels won’t be forgotten about in the digital age. It might have lost one of its last remaining champions but it could well be back in the future.