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On The Seventh Art In The Age Of The Digital.

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The Wednesday Debate – The Screen Illusion

This weeks Wednesday Debate is inspired by a revelation made during the latest episode of Film Clash, by my esteemed co-host Ali Bianchi.

Ali admitted to watching Citizen Kane for the first time in over a decade on a laptop screen, in two parts, in a Starbucks. As can be heard from my reaction I was quite taken aback by this. Doesn’t a film like “Kane” deserve more respect than that? Can cinema be scaled down and enjoyed properly on a 15inch screen? Should it be?!

Pixar’s UP, a Best Picture nominee at the 82nd Academy Awards was used to promote Apple’s iPad when the device was first released. Whilst watching movies in a convenient manner while on the move is one of that devices key features, I do think it raises some interesting questions about how people consume cinema, a term which at its very essence is associated with the kind of spectacle ill afforded by the sort of conditions available on a consumer level.

As technology, and indeed tastes, have developed, consumer demand for multiple viewing platforms has no doubt grown; as one member of a family watches Saturday night television on the main living room set, one might argue that the capabilities for dual viewing might seem like a life saver to some. One could argue that in the case of a film like UP it’s a testament to great filmmaking that scenario and viewing conditions matter not one jot, and that within the boundaries afforded by portable film viewing different things take precedence (for example character is exemplified over visual capacity in such conditions.

But, and without meaning to sound too precious, is it right? I’ll finish off with thoughts that echo my own, albeit conveyed infinitely more succinctly, by filmmaker David Lynch, who when questioned about how he felt about audiences viewing his films on portable screens had the following to say -

More and more people are seeing the films on computers — lousy sound, lousy picture — and they think they’ve seen the film, but they really haven’t.

It’s a pathetic horror story.

So, where do you stand on the issue at hand? Fire away in the comments below.