Earlier during the Easter weekend, Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan visited Mumbai, India to have a discussion with its filmmakers about preserving celluloid in the digital age. The Oscar-nominated director was part of a global initiative event called Reframing the Future of Film along with visual artist Tacita Dean which was hosted by Indian filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
During the three-day film event, Nolan interacted with several Indian filmmakers in a conversation about film preservation, similar to his earlier visit to the UK and US. CNN-IBN’s movie critic Rajeev Masand had the chance to sit down with Nolan, Dean and Dungarpur for an interview to discuss their mission.
During the interview, Nolan was questioned by the journalist about a popular thought among many that the decision to use photochemical films stems from Nostalgia and it isn’t a practical decision made by filmmakers. This is what the director had to say:
“It’s almost like a propaganda that digital is somehow more pragmatic or more responsible. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Nolan.
“The filmmakers, they all work at different budget levels in different ways and we’re all in our own way extremely productive and efficient. Nobody’s doing anything irresponsibly. You would never choose the format they’re going to shoot out of a sense of nostalgia. You never choose it out of a sense of indulgence or self-indulgence. It’s about what’s best for the film. “
“That’s propaganda spread by people who want to get rid of it, who want to supplant it with more expensive new technology. The reality is just as an artist might choose to paint with watercolours or oil paint. It’s just a valid creative decision.”
“I’m working the same way that I’ve always been working and there’s no sense of nostalgia about that. I’m technically extremely rigorous at what I do and look for the best possible technology to achieve what I want and in terms of imaging technology, in terms of seeing the world the way that our eyes see it, film is by far the best imaging technology that exists. “
Nolan was also asked about his learning’s from filming Dunkirk in 70mm entirely. The movie was released in 125 70mm theatres, making Dunkirk the widest release in this format in 25 years.
“That it’s totally possible to do it. It’s very practical. Audiences came out in large numbers for those screens in particular. There’s definitely an appetite for a photochemical presentation, large format presentation.”
“The takeaways was with that we are offering audiences a reason to go to the movies. We are not offering them a slightly bigger version of their own TV sets. We’re offering them a completely different technology and one that has a great history and has a tremendous capacity for emotionally evolving the audience in the story that you’re trying to tell. It’s a very powerful tool.”
Over the years, Nolan has also helped his fellow filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams by lending IMAX lenses. Nolan also lent his lenses to Zack Snyder during the filming of Batman v Superman. It eventually led Snyder to film Justice League in a different aspect ratio entirely due to his new found love for IMAX.
Recently, it was also revealed that selected scenes from Wonder Woman 2 will be filmed in IMAX. It looks like Nolan’s mission of preserving film in the digital age might soon change the experience of watching movies in theaters entirely for the betterment of viewers.
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