The future of film


First aired on Q (16/01/13) 

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Movies no longer exist -- at least, according to the man who wrote the definitive book on film and its history. David Thomson, author of The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies, says the North American, 1920s to 1950s definition of the word "movie" just doesn't exist any more in 2013.

"A movie is now an event, rather in the way that a road show play was once upon a time," he told Q's Jian Ghomeshi.

The world in which director Steven Spielberg made Jaws -- a time when people went to see movies once or twice a week -- doesn't exist any more. Spielberg's newer movies are no longer made for that audience, now he makes more and more movies that are historical lessons, such as Schindler's List and 2012's Lincoln, nominated for 12 Academy Awards.

The medium has changed, but Thomson says that's not necessarily a bad thing. "The change frees the medium up in strange ways, unforeseeable ways," he said, offering how young people can now make great movies quickly, cheaply and easily as an example.

Despite many film critics thinking that the quality of old movies is not being kept up, Thomson says amazing films are still being made. He recently called 2012's Amour -- up against Lincoln and seven others for the best picture Oscar -- one of the greatest films of all time.

The film is a simple production, focusing on two actors in their 80s and shot almost entirely in one apartment.

"It's the most humane film he [director Michael Haneke has] ever made," said Thomson.

But the future of film is worrying to him. People are no longer as obsessed with Hollywood as they once were, and the Academy Awards are gradually losing their audience. This matters because the revenue made from Oscar night funds almost everything the academy does.

Plus, moving away from the big screen means audiences are losing the communal experience of movie watching, he says.

"The idea of being a part of a huge audience and laughing or being afraid of something with those other people," he said. "The technology has isolated us more and it makes us a little more lonely, I think."

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