Director Quentin Tarantino has always been a vocal advocate for film over digital, so when he announced that he was releasing his eighth movie on 70mm, I was intrigued. Why does one of the world’s most influential directors have such a hard-on for this increasingly irrelevant medium? After sitting through the movie, I think I finally understood; he’s a victim of his generation’s dogma on film.
To me, understanding the evolution of film industry, I can see why Tarantino fights so hard to protect film. Because he was raised in the New Hollywood generation of filmmaking, having access to the means to production meant you were in a position of privilege. Being able to shoot with film was analogous to being a legitimate artist. There was a certain romanticism behind it.
Therefore, the growing trend of digitally produced media ultimately devalues his own struggles to break through the industry. The spread of cheap digital video recording devices, coupled with the formation of video streaming sites such as Youtube, has democratized the video making process so that larger bodies of people have access to the production and consumption of media.
This democratization has shifted the centers of production from the studios to the people, leading to an explosion of creativity from independent film-makers exploring various types of genres and styles of expression.
Unfortunately, with any seemingly progressive movement, there are unintended side effects. As digital platforms become more ubiquitous, hallmarks of a film-centric society have declined. Theater attendance has decreased with an alarmingly number of people opting instead to binge watch Netflix. Tarantino would balk at this. To him, the theater was like a cathedral, bringing people together to all share one collective vision.
I don’t agree with him. What connects people together isn’t the physical act of going to a movie but what’s on the screen. The very nature of cinema, as Peters would classify it, qualifies it as an instrument of mass communication, whose meaning derives from audience dissemination. The social values that Tarantino attributes to film to argue against digital are too restrictive. To me, the power of movies transcend the medium.