Risky Biz blog’s Anne Thompson has chided David Denby‘s recently posted New Yorker piece about Hollywood’s digital future by calling it a dutiful “term paper” that seems “terribly familar” and “very obvious…and as always, Denby’s sorry to let the old ways go.”
I enjoyed Denby’s piece because it’s honest and thorough and well written — he talked to many of the Left Coast people he needed to speak to and then tried to put it all together in his head, and then he came back to Manhattan and wrote it from his heart. It’s a smart, absorbing read. I don’t get the bashing. From Poland, yes (naturally)…but not from Anne.
And while digital technology is improving new and old films markedly (i.e., first-rate digital projection in theatres is, to my eyes, definitely preferable to film projection), some of the “old ways” of showing and experiencing movies were really spectac- ular. There’s an extra-oomph showmanship quality that’s missing from all but the best theatres (like Hollywood’s Arclight) today.
Those ornate, super-sized movie palaces, for example….finito. I’ve only seen pictures (okay, I was inside Radio City Music Hall once) but I feel like I’ve missed out on something really grandiose and spirit-filling.
I’ve seen 30-frame Todd-AO exactly once in my life (when a restored 30-frame version of Oklahoma! was shown in ’84 or thereabouts), and I’ve never forgotten it. The fluidity of motion and considerable lessening of pan blur in that ancient 70mm process, which hasn’t been freshly exhibited since 1956 or thereabouts, was truly awesome.
Something in me also regrets that Showscan, the 60 frame-per-second process that peaked iin the ’80s and early ’90s, was never used to make a feature film. I’m a little bit sorry also that the old three-projector Cinerama process, dual-projector 3-D projection, Ultra- and Super-Panavision 70, Camera 65, Dimension 150, Aromarama and all the nervy, forward-thinking processes of the ’50s and early ’60s are gone as well.