A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Feb 2019

    Default I wonder what people from the past would think about movie techniques today

    So I've been looking at some of the stuff that went on before, and turns out that there was one for movies! Movies first started out being displayed as a binoculars type setup. And mostly long, still images. Mostly of one scene, and without a plot.

    Then they got more. The camera pan was invented. So was the flashback. People started to put stories *in* the movies. They began to start changing scenes. Not much, at first, due to the things like 'lack of supporting technology' and 'not yet inventing camera angles'. But it was nice.

    I just find it fascinating, that thing like shadows, lighting, camera angles and pans, things like editing and special effects, or things like merging multiple pieces of film together. Or you know everything else. Wonder what those pioneers would see, if they could see our movies now? hating it? Wishing they thought of it too?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
    Aedilred's Avatar

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    Apr 2006

    Default Re: I wonder what people from the past would think about movie techniques today

    I think much will depend on the attitude of the filmmaker in question. There will always be those who grab at every innovation and see it as an unambiguous improvement: among modern directors, Cameron and Lucas come to mind.

    On the other hand, there will be those who see the newer techniques and technologies as a crutch to disguise bad craftsmanship, or an unacceptable compromise on quality for the sake of reducing effort. Charlie Chaplin was still making basically silent films as late as 1936 for (partly) this reason; John Ford preferred to film in black and white into the 60s. A number of top directors still record movies on filmstock rather than digitally.

    Most directors will fall somewhere in the middle, being eager to experiment with new techniques that excite them, but not wanting to stray too far outside their comfort zone overall. Of course, there will also be hacks who will just slavishly mimic the dominant techniques in use in contemporary blockbusters because they want to look like them, but have no particular attachment to the specific methods.

    Sometimes things take a while to grow on people, too. The Third Man was widely (though not universally) criticised on release for its then-daring angles and tilted framing. Now it's pretty much universally recognised as a masterpiece, with the camerawork being one of the main reasons why.

    I suspect that most directors of the golden age would relish the opportunities that 21st-century cinematic techniques and technology give them, but, certainly once the initial novelty wore off, would be more sceptical about a deterioration in cinematography, uncanny valley CGI, rapid "bayhem" cutting techniques, and derivative scoring.

    Which is of course not to say that there are not directors working today who match or exceed the equivalent standards set seventy years ago. But I think at the big-budget end of the cinematic spectrum, there is less attention paid on average to some of these things than there used to be. After all, who cares about getting a shot perfectly framed when it's only going to be on screen for half a second and most of it will be added in post? That's the kind of thinking that would outrage a Chaplin, Kubrick, Kurosawa, etc.
    Last edited by Aedilred; 2021-08-20 at 11:05 AM.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Archmage in the Playground Moderator
    truemane's Avatar

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    Mar 2007

    Default Re: I wonder what people from the past would think about movie techniques today

    I imagine that Kurosawa (who used to do his own editing at night after filming wrapped for the day) would be delighted by the labour-saving possibilities of modern methods. But I also suspect he would find the resulting democratization of editing skill, and the way average shot lengths have dropped over the years, unsettling and maybe slightly immoral.

    Rubber suits and miniatures shocked and frightened audiences for decades, but we can't see them the say way anymore. If Ishiro Honda (director of the original Godzilla) was teleported to the modern world, he would probably admit that CGI makes more technically proficient, realistic monster movies, but I doubt he would think they're better than what he's used to.

    We're all of us, to a greater or less degree, trapped within the paradigms of our upbringing, and often even sincere attempts to think outside those paradigms seem laughable when viewed from an incommensurate one. Like how Robert A Heinlein, writing in the 1950's and 60's, trying so hard to envision an optimistic, progressive, egalitarian future of equal opportunity, filled his books with buxom, beautiful career women loudly demanding their rights to make-up and mini skirts while being spiritually satisfied by menial support roles (I'm aware I'm exaggerating for polemic effect here, Heinlein fans don't @ me).

    I do think, however, that almost any filmmaker from any past era would be horrified at the way advancing technology (especially in terms of distribution) has had a corrosive effect on the complexity and diversity of mainstream film.
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