11 December 2011

Cinema form

/Film has a review of the preview of The Dark Knight Rises. In it, the reviewer emphasizes the importance of seeing this in IMAX: I can't even imagine watching the film in digital or 35mm, missing out on much of the epic scope. I have mixed feelings about such technical requirements.

There're various similar areas of concern of authenticity and experience when watching a film. Some directors and critics insist that a film be watched in the theater. I follow that rule only when there's awe to be gained (Tree of Life, LotR) but that's just a preference. The (now-dead?) practice of colorization started a whole religous war. It feels gimmicky and can be done well, however there are important aesthetic arguments against colorization. Framing and emphasis in black and white is achieved with tonal and textural contrast. At it's simplest: a lighter figure standing against a dark background will draw attention to the figure. When color is added, color intensity and palette relationships--as opposed to contrast--begin to define what the viewers' eyes are drawn to. The director's choices are being overruled by the colorization. A newer technical requirement is 3D. Just as B&W encodes certain artistic choices that color could alter, 3D encodes choices that 2D could alter. A spear thrust at the camera is an unimpressive circle because of 2D perspective. It has a notably different affect in 3D. Similarly, but more born of necessity, subtitles and dubbing can alter a film. In my opinion, the lesser altering of the two is subtitles, since you still retain the original actors' vocal tone and prosody. Beyond these outside influences on a film, there are alterations that may be made by the creator. A director or studio may release different edits to a film. Blade Runner, notoriously, has seven different commercial versions available. This is common with any art form. Multiple versions exist of many symphonies and different painters have stated that a specific work is never finished. Which one should be considered canonical? And then there's the true religious war that George Lucas started with his digitally inserted aliens and gun-shy Han Solo.

So, although many choices made by the artist are part of the work's expression, I wonder whether the higher resolution of IMAX isn't just a luxury of venue.

[ posted by sstrader on 11 December 2011 at 5:18:25 PM in Cinema ]