At a recent BFI London Film Festival discussion Chris Nolan was once again proselytizing for the deep blacks and (he insists) higher-quality resolution of celluloid projection, and wondering why so few others seem to be on the same page. “When you go to an art gallery you don’t look at a photograph of a painting — you look at the painting,” Nolan said. “But in the film world they’re very happy to show a DCP of Lawrence of Arabia. With the best will in the world it can only be an approximation of what the film really is, yet it’s billed as the film itself.”

Nolan and Quentin Tarantino and other film devotees are encamped on a very small Pacific island with the tide coming in. And they know it. I never want to see film “go away” entirely. We all understand the importance of preserving films on celluloid, but you can’t change the writing on the wall. Nor do I fully agree with Nolan’s quality argument.

I’ve seen 70mm mint-condition prints of Lawrence of Arabia projected five or six times in first-rate theatres (Zeigfeld, Academy, Egyptian, Aero) and while it might have generated a certain hard-to-define feeling that one can mystically derive from celluloid projection, I swear to God it didn’t look noticably “better” than the DCPs. I’m attended DCP Lawrence showings three or four times, and…okay, put me in jail but they’ve looked absolutely fabulous.

“I’ve had conversations with studio heads,” Nolan went on, “where I’ve been advocating passionately for shooting on film and projecting on film. And someone will say, ‘Well, at the end of the day doesn’t storytelling triumph?’ And I say, ‘No it doesn’t. If it did, we’d make radio shows, because they’re a lot cheaper.” HE to Nolan: It’s over, dude. Celluloid projection is a vinyl thing now — strictly for elites and connoisseurs. The world has moved on, and I for one much, much prefer to see pre-1960 films via DCPs. But that said, all hail Ultra Panavision 70!