IFC.com’s Stephen Saito recently reported on last Saturday’s Martin Scorsese/LACMA event. Somone asked where Scorsese stood on film grain, and he might as well have said, “Uhm, I kind of get where Jeffrey Wells is coming from on this issue and he’s not altogether wrong. The grain monks have staked out a position that is perhaps a little too purist, too extreme,”
Saito recorded most of the conversation and has sent the full quote from Scorsese on film grain. Read it and weep, residents of the Abbey of St. Martin! If Scorsese isn’t with you, you’re finished.
“I think it’s an interesting point,” Scorsese began. “Some of the grain, in certain cases, I think it’s been…like Jack Cardiff, who when he was still alive was able to comment of course on all the restorations of Black Narcissus and all the other films begin made and I think in certain films in certain sections, they would’ve liked it better if the grain was less. They would’ve liked it better if the dissolves…the internegatives didn’t look like dupes. And we just have to settle. They had to settle.
”And I think to a certain extent, they would’ve liked it cleaner. Don’t forget too that the instance of three-strip Technicolor, look at that…they did a few years ago, they had a color film at the Academy and they showed a few seconds of Robin Hood digitally restored and I do know…I really believe that the cinematographer would’ve preferred to have it cleaner at the time. There’s no doubt.
“I happen to like grain because I’m used to seeing it, but when I see it cleaned up, it’s a whole other experience. I talked about the grain, for example, we were talking about lusting after those Red Shoes 16mm prints — even with the grain, it didn’t matter. But to see it in a new form, I think that’s what the filmmakers really would’ve preferred in most cases, unless it was a stylistic choice to go with grain.”