Is digital cinema fixated with wide shots?

In an earlier posting I quoted George Lucas playing down the impact of digital technologies on film-making: “a camera is a camera is a camera so it doesn’t really make any difference… You frame the film the same… the aesthetics are exactly the same.”
But critic Mark Cousins suggests in the June issue of Prospect Magazine that Lucas may be blind to the way he has changed his practice since he started shooting digitally. Cousins’ article notes a trend towards wide shots that he says is part explained by changes in technology. A similar trend emerged and then retreated when CinemaScope was first introduced.

In his characteristically insightful and lucid piece, Cousins writes: “In a few years time, The Phantom Menace, George Lucas’s first Star Wars prequel — which was filmed almost entirely in medium and wide shot — will look like one of the most boring movies ever made.” The full article (which is available for free for the next month, but thereafter only to subscribers) gives a historical analysis of film aesthetics and argues that the close-up is cinema’s “unique selling point.” Thus Cousins argues that the digitally shot Ten, in which almost every shot is a close up (taken of protagonists in a car from a static camera mounted on the dashboard), will stand up better than Lucas’s recent work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *