Ridley Scott On Death of Cinema

September 4th, 2007 | by Sqotty |

The Scotsman has a piece on Ridley Scott ranting about how technology is killing big-screen cinema.

THE Hollywood director, Ridley Scott, warned yesterday that new technology is killing off the big-screen experience. The Oscar-winning County Durham-born movie mogul said mobile phones and computers threatened movie-making on an epic scale.

Is Scott right? Is high tech and the Internet bringing about the demise of the big-screen movie experience?

“People sit there watching a movie on a tiny screen. You can’t beat it, you’ve got to join it and deal with it and also get competitive with it. But we try to do films which are in support of cinema, in a large room with good sound and a big picture.”

However, Scott admitted: “I’m sure we’re on a losing wicket, but we’re fighting technology. While it has been wonderful in many aspects, it also has some big negative downsides.”

Actually, I don’t like watching movies on my computer screen or via youtube. I like a nice viewing space so I can capture the richness of the film. this is not to say that eh Internet and youtube video doesn’t have a place or serve a purpose. It’s not suitable for watching The Wrath of Khan, but it is okay for catching video clips from the campaign trail.

The piece goes on to talk with Mark cousins, a former director of the Edinburgh Film Festival. He points out that the demise of the film industry has been predicted since the introduction of sound, and then again with the rise of television. Yet film making still goes on.

Mr Cousins said: “We still go to big cinemas at weekends collectively, but we also watch movies individually at home with our big TVs and sound systems.”

He added that the message was more important than the medium. Mr Cousins said: “I take the view that content is king – it’s the story and it’s not what format it presented on. That has always been the case.”

I think Cousins has it right. It’s the quality of the product that is important. The number of great films being produced is no where near what it once was. This is not a reflection on Ridley Scott who has made some great films, including Blade Runner, but on the bulk of product being produced. Remakes up the wahzoo! Many not even close to being as good as the originals they masquerade as.

Some examples: Mission Impossible which takes the legendary Mr. Phelps from the TV series and makes him into a bad guy. This was such a put off for me I refused to see any of the subsequent entries into the series. Star Trek, the series I grew up with, was hit or miss with the series of ten movies produced. Even the various new TV incarnations ranged from dismal to excellent, depending on the episode and specific incarnation.

Ocean’s Eleven, a classic Rat Pack picture, was remade with chickendove George Clooney, and sent the message of crime does pay, unlike the message of the original, where they pulled off the crime only to see all of the cash go up in flames.

That is probably one of the biggest problems with modern film (and television) productions: they send the wrong moral message: Crime, infidelity, promiscuity, drug abuse, and so on. The bad guy wins.

It used to be that films sent out positive messages: Heroism, integrity, criminals go to prison, and the good guy always wins.

Another probable cause contributing to the demise of film is the cost of going to the theater. The price of movie tickets varies wildly across the U.S. It’s sufficiently high that one is better off waiting for the DVD release and buying or renting it on DVD and watching it in your home.

A great film with a inspiring story, like Harry Potter, can overcome the box office price hurdle, where as the upcoming release of Get Smart will most likely disappoint the Hollywood moguls.

In other words, make more films like Alien and Black Hawk Down and fewer films like Legend and rehashing great television of the past. Innovate rather than regurgitate.

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