In a brand new essay, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese has argued that the artwork of cinema is “being systematically devalued” as movie studios and streaming corporations race to provide “content”.
In his tribute to the good Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, printed within the March version of Harper’s Journal and titled Il Maestro, Scorsese acknowledged that streamers had helped his profession as with out Netflix there can be no The Irishman and with out Apple there can be no Killers of the Flower Moon.
Nevertheless, the filmmaker mentioned that the artwork of cinema is being “systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned, and reduced to its lowest common denominator: ‘content’.”
“As recently as 15 years ago, the term ‘content’ was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form’,” Scorsese wrote.
“Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should,” he added.
The filmmaker additional mentioned that the phrase ‘content’ turned a enterprise time period for all shifting photographs.
“It was linked, of course, not to the theatrical experience but to home viewing, on the streaming platforms that have come to overtake the movie-going experience, just as Amazon overtook physical stores,” he mentioned.
The director, who’s amongst one of the influential American filmmakers with classics akin to Good Fellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed and plenty of others to his credit score, mentioned the packaging of every thing as content material sounds democratic however isn’t”.
“If additional viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based mostly on what you’ve already seen, and the options are based mostly solely on subject material or style, then what does that do to the artwork of cinema?
“Curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist’, a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity — you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you… Algorithms, by definition, are based on calculations that treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else.”
Scorsese mentioned cinephiles can’t rely on the film enterprise to care for cinema.
“In the movie business, which is now the mass visual entertainment business, the emphasis is always on the word ‘business,’ and value is always determined by the amount of money to be made from any given property — in that sense, everything from Sunrise to La Strada to 2001 is now pretty much wrung dry and ready for the ‘Art Film’ swim lane on a streaming platform,” he mentioned.
“Those of us who know the cinema and its history have to share our love and our knowledge with as many people as possible. And we have to make it crystal clear to the current legal owners of these films that they amount to much, much more than mere property to be exploited and then locked away. They are among the greatest treasures of our culture, and they must be treated accordingly,” he added.
The director, who’s reuniting along with his favorite actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Rober DeNiro for his subsequent Killers of the Flower Moon, mentioned Fellini’s films are “cinema”.
“I suppose we also have to refine our notions of what cinema is and what it isn’t. Federico Fellini is a good place to start. You can say a lot of things about Fellini’s movies, but here’s one thing that is incontestable: they are cinema. Fellini’s work goes a long way toward defining the art form,” Scorsese mentioned.