It’s not the size of the screen but the motion of the picture that matters.
“Birdman” and “Babel” filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and “The Shape of Water” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro recently sat down together, along with “Roma” and “Gravity” helmer Alfonso Cuarón, for a wide-ranging conversation about film with Deadline.
One of the big topics that come up is cinema in the streaming era and how some filmmakers and cinephiles have an attitude that the quality of a film is diluted by viewing platforms other than the big screen.
Inarritu dismissed such talk, saying that films by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard or Federico Fellini still succeed on the small screen:
“What I’m concerned about is less the technology, and the ways that people are watching cinema, but that there’s a dictatorship of ideas behind that… If you watch a Fellini or a Godard movie on your computer, it’s still a great movie. It doesn’t change the power of the idea. But I think the ideas are being reduced to computer size in terms of ideology, and I think everybody is participating in that. The reduction of the idea is what we should discuss, not the possibilities of the medium.
He goes on to say you could only hear music in the concert halls before records and radio came along. Listening on headphones doesn’t stop it from being great music, and while it’s better to go to a concert hall and hear it live, but however you take it in doesn’t “diminish the idea behind the music.”
Del Toro agrees, saying: “I think the size of the idea is more important than the size of the screen, definitely,” and then going on to talk about the post-COVID era of cinema and the sweeping changes affecting the industry:
“There are big movements happening that are very interesting. And we won’t be able to fully see them until ten years from now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss them. It’s a very interesting moment in cinema. A lot of it feels like end-of-days cinema, as people are not discussing it in that context. I think the beauty is the new voices will rise against this silliness in the same way we rose against the silliness in our own time.”
Cuarón then weighed in himself about the whole “death of cinema” conversation, saying:
“Yes, probably it’s the death of cinema in the way that you know it, but there’s a new cinema coming up, and why would it be dying now? What would be the reason? They make the case that, ‘Oh, fewer people are going to the cinema,’ but I don’t know: more people are hooked to their computers. We just need to acknowledge that the new generation engages with cinema differently.
He adds that while he loves the experience of going to the cinema, he says that by no means is it the only way to experience a film, and there is “plenty of cinema I’m quite happy to watch on a platform”.