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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Film Ain't Dead Yet, You Basterds

Pleased were we to hear that Quentin Tarantino intends to not only shoot his next movie on 70mm film, but that he's pushing forward to have it screened that way as well. Yep, the star-studded (and presumably stylishly violent and dialogue-heavy) Western The Hateful Eight is going to get the widest 70mm release a movie has received in about 20 years. The last movie to get such a release was Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet back in 1996; more recently, Paul Thomas Anderson's 2012 opus The Master had a limited 70mm release. (A friend comments that Anderson used a digital intermediary print when putting his 70mm prints together, and wonders if the film-purist Tarantino will be pressured to do the same.)

This is intriguing news, and not just to tech-savvy film-lovers. One wonders how wide, exactly, the widest 70mm release can be, given the relatively low number of theatres equipped for 70mm there are in existence. They're out of the way of most moviegoers, though one imagines there're enough Tarantino-faithful out there willing to make a daytrip of it. This also feels like the latest salvo in an ongoing war between film and digital formats; basically the studios have pretty much universally switched to a digital presentation, thus forcing theatres to convert to digital projection. But many movies (including 2/3 of Best Picture nominees, and the forthcoming 7th episode of Star Wars) are still shot on film. 20th Century Fox and Paramount both moved to phase out film entirely until filmmakers like Tarantino, JJ Abrams, and a vociferous Christopher Nolan convinced them to preserve the option of celluloid as a filmmaking medium (and thus keeping Kodak in the film manufacturing business). This enables some of Hollywood's finest cinematographers to continue working with their preferred tools, and offers you a deeper, richer visual experience when you step into one of the rare theatres still equipped to show films ON film.

The end result of this still-raging conflict may not be apparent to many viewers. But one doesn't have to be a hopeless nostalgic to prefer the film image over its digital counterpart. Though we at Jaman remain committed to helping you find great new movies to watch online, it'd kill us (figuratively, of course) if you seized that as your only movie-watching option. A whole world of cinema can be found on this screen, but your greatest cinematic experience remains at your local movie house. Tarantino and co. are fighting like hell to ensure that you continue to have the opportunity to enjoy that experience; it's up to you to accept their invitation.

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