The death of cinema
This post is really a response to the blog post over at Flippant News here.
Peter Greenaway is a self described eccentric filmmaker and is quoted as saying that cinema is dead. It would be easy for me to just dismiss Peter’s comments but I think that Peter is a smart guy. I also think that he is on the wrong track here. He says that Scorsese is old fashioned and is doing nothing new. That he is making the same level of entertainment that D.W. Griffith was making.
Griffith is generally credited with creating the modern grammar of film but he was responsible for popularizing the modern grammar of film and promoting himself as the originator of these techniques. But that is kind of an aside – You can read more about that HERE.
Peter is convinced that the future is in interactive entertainment. About 10 years ago, George Lucas tested an interactive movie here in LA where the audience was given a controller and allowed to provide input on the direction of the story. The experiment was considered a failure.
My take is this: When people sit in a theater and watch a film or a play, for that matter, they are engaging in a shared, passive experience that has been part of the pantheon of human culture for thousands of years. The basic 3 act dramatic structure that is employed in most films can be traced to the ancient Greeks.
To think that this experience is dead, is dead wrong. To assume that everyone wants to participate in the presentation of a story is wrong. In my opinion, these experiences are independent of each other. There is room for both. Many times, I just want to sit back and enjoy someone telling me a story. I am not alone in this.
Moreover, Peter feels that video artists such as Bill Viola are a huge improvement over the traditional story telling film experience. Here again, I think he is wrong. There is room for both. They are vastly different experiences. There is NO reason to presume that one form will supplant the other.
Interactive media / Film, Plays / Video art, Traditional art – I can and do appreciate all of these various forms of expression. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. There is no reason for one to supplant the other. Saying that interactive media and video art should supplant traditional cinema is equivalent to saying that sculpture should supplant painting as an art form.