Quentin Tarantino is Wrong About Film and Digital Cinema

There it is. I said it. Tarantino is wrong. Digital projection isn't 'television' at the theatre.

"As far as I'm concerned, digital projection is the death of cinema," Tarantino said, visibly heated. "The fact that most films aren't presented in 35mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema."

I love the "Maltese Falcon". It's one of my all-time favourite pictures. Love, love it. Many years ago I got a chance to see it at a great old movie palace in Toronto called 'The Eglinton Theatre'. I had seen the film many times on television and VHS and I took the opportunity to see a fresh print of the 'Falcon' on the big screen.


It was a spectacular experience and I laughed in places that I didn't on the small screen. The big screen amplified the film. It amplified the performances. I then realized how great Bogart was with his subtle but effective nuances. It was an entirely different experience of the film. It is all about amplification. Small gestures became big gestures. Great set pieces are more explosive on a big screen. Our peripheral vision is hampered and we are to engage in the images and story before us. We can't hit pause or leave the room. We are forced to be engaged in the story. Leave and you will miss something important. We sit in the darkened theatre and EXPERIENCE the movie in all of it's gigantic glory.

We don't give a shit about the film stock or the grain. It's all about the story, the performances and experience. If we have done a disservice to film is that we don't use the frame in the way we used to. We cut medium shots with close-ups and we are worried about how the film will be viewed on a phone. Fuck the phone or tablet. Make sure those rat bastards that like to watch movies on a phone can't see a fucking thing. Use the long shot. The EXTRA LONG SHOT. Cinema is about a big screen experience. This is where Tarantino is misguided. It's not about film and flicker. It's not about a shitty print shown in an art house theatre. I saw a horrible print of '2001' in a rep theatre and it made me depressed. I could care less about the flicker of the film. I wanted to experience the film as it was originally presented. Who cares how the image was aquired? Had Kubrick made that film digitally or on film it wouldn't matter to me in the least. I don't see a film for grain structure. I see a film to be engaged in an idea, a style, and a character and a story. Who gives a flying fuck how we got here?

Feature film is my passion. It's not a passion for it's grain. It's a passion because features have big ideas. They don't rely on extensive plotting and long character arcs. Great features have big ideas. None of this has to do with film or digital. Projection on a large screen amplifies these ideas. These characters. Whether digital or analogue, the story is told on a large canvas. A visual canvas. Flicker and grain doesn't matter at all. What matters is that your movie connects to the audience. That is what provides a big screen experience that you can't get at home.

It's Bogart's subtle twinkle in the eye that makes you laugh. Visually amplified. Perfect.