Jamie Neish: Projected future shaky for cinema

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QUENTIN Tarantino has added fire to the belief that cinema is a dying breed.

In a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, where he was promoting a one-off screening of Pulp Fiction, the director stated that “cinema was dead” and that digital projection was a poor substitute for the “real thing”.

He has a point.

His statement was perhaps a little on the rash side, but ever since Hollywood kick-started the shift from film to digital – forcing cinemas worldwide to follow suit – cinema has struggled to stay afloat, with box office numbers dwindling and customers choosing their living rooms over the multiplex.

For all its benefits, digital has proven a real detriment to cinema. The digital projectors used aren’t too dissimilar to the advanced ones that can be purchased for use at home.

Film projection, on the other hand, provided a unique experience that’s entirely missing from a trip to the cinema nowadays. Not only was there the familiar whirr of the projector itself, but mild marks and scratches accrued by a film print often added a special magic to the viewing experience. None of that is evident anymore. As pristine as digital projections are, they’re also rather flat and dark.

Whether or not the shift from digital to film is what is causing cinema’s current slump is anyone’s guess. There are strong beliefs on both sides. But what appears to be the case is that something needs to be done to restore faith in the cinema-going experience before it’s too late. Staying at home just isn’t the same, but the cinema, as it is, isn’t as it used to be.

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