Film is dying. I’m not talking about movies, but actual film. In the past ten years or so, digital has slowly taken film’s space. More and more directors now use digital (even directors like Martin Scorsese have made the jump) and plenty of movie theaters have made the jump to digital projections.
For someone like myself, this is a great loss. First, let me say that I have nothing against digital. While early digital looked aggressively terrible and artificial, today digital is smooth, clean, and polished. It’s completely refined and impeccable. I don’t blame studios or directors for switching to digital as well. It’s cheaper, takes less space, and easier to edit and manipulate. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by the digital imagery of Life of Pi or plenty of other movies.
But film for me is superior. Perhaps it’s due to attachment, but I find film to be far more realistic than digital. Film captures each image frame by frame and translates them to the screen. Digital does the same process, but is a replica of film, and while it’s a good replica cannot beat the original. Film also shows the true effort behind the director’s work. In movies like Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane, or more recently The Master and The Tree of Life you can see how their directors (Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Welles, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Terrence Malick respectively) really put all their might into showing you their stories. Film captures light and colors in a way digital cannot.
Now let me reiterate that I don’t bemoan digital coming. Digital is keeping movies alive in a way film couldn’t. Film is hard to preserve and over the years audiences have lost plenty of great movies (who knows what happened to the missing reel of The Magnificent Ambersons). Digital doesn’t have that problem. But even still I would prefer watching a movie made by film than digital.