Some films grab an audience by an actors intense performance, a great soundtrack, or an original plot line. But, funnily enough, when someone sees a trailer for something they would like to see, nine times out of ten they exclaim excitedly to their friends that said film looks amazing’. The key word being ‘looks’. However, it is almost never the ‘look’ of the film they are speaking of.
The overall look of a film can be timeless, the lighting of a certain scene or the location it was shot in. But more so to the point there is an art to the quality of the picture itself that is fading out into the albatross of forgotten ways to make a movie sparkle and shine. I am of course opening up the continuously temperamental debate between film fans and purists. The debate of… is it better to shoot onto actual film or digital? (as is the norm in this day of age).
Let’s look at the scoreboard… digital film has been an enabler for groundbreaking special effects. One such example can be seen in digital enthusiast Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, which was both visually stunning and entirely digital and green screened. But Rodriguez also showed that digital can be tampered with to look like it was shot on film. He did so with Planet Terror, where every crackle and scratch on the screen was intentional.
But on the other side of the coin, there’s very few still working analogue filmmakers that shoot only on actual 35mm film. Directors like Tarantino, the Coen Bros, Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan. Nolan for example recently triumphed with Interstellar, which was entirely shot on film and impressively had ZERO digital alteration or CGI. Paul Thomas Anderson reopened the world of shooting on 70mm film with 2012’s The Master. 70mm being a stunning visual film stock seen famously in “How The West Was Won”, and “Oklahoma” to name but a few. Tarantino also has plans for 70mm, plotting and planning to shoot his new western “The Hateful Eight” in 70mm, since the first page of the now famously leaked script. The Coens have always shot on film and have produced some of the cinemas most amazing cult movies.
It is all a matter of opinion and where one’s interest lies. Some people could not give a shit about how a film was shot, whereas some people will even base the chance of them seeing a film on how it was shot. Some can’t stand CGI, others relish it. Some claim shooting on to film is expensive and will make you a more careful filmmaker. And some say it’s for the dinosaurs of Hollywood who is trying to grasp on to what little relevance they have left. At the end of the day, as long as there are good movies and modern-day classics being produced, as we have seen in the last few years. Be it either shot on film or on digital, who seriously gives a fuck?
Film will always look timeless and be a warm and welcome friend among a sea of shitty CGI flicks, but digital will also be a means of more talented writers and directors to begin a career in filmmaking and maybe bring something new to the table, something which the world of film needs now more than ever.