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The End of Cinema?

The End of Cinema?: A Medium in Crisis in the Digital Age

André Gaudreault
Philippe Marion
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The End of Cinema?
    Book Description:

    Is a film watched on a video screen still cinema? Have digital compositing, motion capture, and other advanced technologies remade or obliterated the craft? Rooted in their hypothesis of the "double birth of media," André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion take a positive look at cinema's ongoing digital revolution and reaffirm its central place in a rapidly expanding media landscape.

    The authors begin with an overview of the extreme positions held by opposing camps in the debate over cinema: the "digitalphobes" who lament the implosion of cinema and the "digitalphiles" who celebrate its new, vital incarnation. Throughout, they remind readers that cinema has never been a static medium but a series of processes and transformations powering a dynamic art. From their perspective, the digital revolution is the eighth major crisis in the history of motion pictures, with more disruptions to come. Brokering a peace among all sides, Gaudreault and Marion emphasize the cultural practice of cinema over rigid claims on its identity, moving toward a common conception of cinema to better understand where it is headed next.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53938-8
    Subjects: Film Studies, Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction The End of Cinema?
    (pp. 1-12)

    The two quotations forming an epigraph to this introduction appear to advance contradictory theses. Paradoxically, that is not the case. For, as the saying goes, there is death and then there is death. Thus it is not really cinema-as-a-medium whose death the British filmmaker Peter Greenaway is observing, but rather a form of cinema, the form that dominated the twentieth century:classical narrative cinema(or something like it). This form of cinema involves plunging a passive viewer into the darkness of a “traditional” movie theater. What Greenaway is lashing out at is something he describes as “old fashioned ideas of...

  5. Chapter One Cinema Is Not What It Used to Be
    (pp. 13-40)

    Some people see the crisis cinema finds itself in the midst of today as a mild foreshadowing of its death, visible on the horizon. The various heralds of the “death” of cinema do not generally believe in its true death, in any real cessation of its vital activity. In the context of the digital turn, the “death” foretold is indicative, rather, of the medium’s decline within the great chorus of media and also of the end of a situation in which cinema exercised an across-the-board hegemony. This is what is in the process of dying, not the medium itself. What...

  6. Chapter Two Digitalizing Cinema from Top to Bottom
    (pp. 41-62)

    The passage to digital media at the turn of the century brought a profound upheaval to media “ecology.” Insofar as digital technology is not exclusive (it affects every medium—and much more than media alone), every time the “Digital Fairy” bats her wings she unleashes a hurricane or, at the very least, severe disturbances, from one end of the media chain to the other.¹ The media of any given society and culture at any given time respond to one another, enter into dialogue or exchange, or crash into one another in spectacular fashion. In short, they constitute a system, even...

  7. Chapter Three A Brief Phenomenology of “Digitalized” Cinema
    (pp. 63-83)

    Images today are not merelydigitalimages; they are alsomultipleandmigrating. The authors of this volume call this the “DiMuMi syndrome” (fordigital,multiple, andmigrating), behind which we find, on the reception level, one of the most explicitly “revolutionary” dimensions of the digital mutation we are a part of and a witness to. What our “media modernity” offers us are numerous “on ramps”—most often by way of a touch of our finger—to a phenomenal quantity of images, both moving and not. At the same time, the number of screens in our lives is increasing at...

  8. Chapter Four From Shooting to Filming: The Aufhebung Effect
    (pp. 84-103)

    We know that for Roland Barthes, as the first epigraph to this chapter demonstrates, the movie theater was a special, unchanging place. Today, however, the movie theater, the jewel case of filmic attractions, appears threatened by thedigital revolutionthat is turning our traditions upside down and putting our habits topsy-turvy and that just a short time ago precipitated a crisis. Yet the movie theater and celluloid, let us repeat, are the two major principles on which most definitions of cinema bequeathed to us by the twentieth century are based. For the champions of the cinephile tradition, it is hard...

  9. Chapter Five A Medium Is Always Born Twice …
    (pp. 104-126)

    The passage to digital media has thrown the habits of every film user into upheaval. A situation such as this encourages people to take extreme positions. Between those who announce cinema’s dissolution or implosion and the champions of its new vitality there exists a spectrum of intermediate attitudes. Among these there is taking shape an alternative route that foregrounds the ways in which cinema and other forms of moving images are associating and hybridizing. Before going into detail in the next chapter on the various manifestations of this new spectrum across which cinema’s identity is spread, we believe it necessary...

  10. Chapter Six New Variants of the Moving Image
    (pp. 127-151)

    When it comes to cinema, things were once simpler than they are today. There is no need to belabor the fact that since sounds and images became relatively dematerialized and transformed intocathodeornumericalsignals, the paradigm that we call the “classical model of cinematic proceedings” has been smashed to bits. Nor is there any need to belabor the fact that thecommercialrelation between theordinary film viewerand cinema is no longer what it was. Things are not as simple as they were before, starting with the fact that buying a ticket to a movie theater is...

  11. Chapter Seven “Animage” and the New Visual Culture
    (pp. 152-176)

    Among the many binary oppositions dividing planet cinema today, one as we have seen concerns the life or death of the medium. Some commentators, whom we might describe as pessimists, believe that cinema, or at least the cinema we knew in the twentieth century, has no future. They think its time has passed or at the very least that the changes to its identity that have taken place are so intense that it must be redefined. Some even believe that it is urgent that we give it a new name. This is not the first time the question what to...

  12. Conclusion A Medium in Crisis in the Digital Age
    (pp. 177-188)

    Just as we were finishing the present volume, a film was released in movie theaters (yes! in movie theaters!) by Michel Gondry, an adaptation of Boris Vian’sL’Écume des jours(Mood Indigo, 2013). Critics were divided about the film, with many emphasizing the difficulty of adapting a work such as Vian’s. In the same way that Hergé’s work, as we have described, is identified with its medium, Vian’s novel is constructed in the textual and expressive space provided by literature. This, it would appear, is the reason why Gondry opted to use a considerable number of mechanical special effects in...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-218)
  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 219-220)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 221-232)
  16. Index
    (pp. 233-240)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-244)