Over the past 15 years or so cinema has undergone some dramatic changes, be it through the development of CGI, 3D and motion capture technology, or the elephant in the filmmaking room that is shooting on digital video. Though some filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), see digital technology as cinema’s “death rattle”, there are those who have embraced change, for better or for worse.
Robert Zemeckis, director of the Back to the Future series is one of these filmmakers, a man who has not only accepted change, but embraced and harnessed it over the years. After all, his 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with its mix of live action and animation was groundbreaking at the time, as were the visual effects in his 1994 classic, Forrest Gump. Since then he’s gone on to be a driving force in the advent of 3D and motion capture technology, with the likes of The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007). His later film, The Walk, saw him shooting in 3D, with a heavy use of CGI to recreate the World Trade Center towers. Green. Green everywhere!
On the subject of shooting digitally, and those who are against it, Zemeckis once had this to say on the matter:
“These guys are the same ones who have been saying that LPs sound better than CDs. You can argue that until you’re blue in the face, but I don’t know anyone who’s still buying vinyl. Film, as we have traditionally thought of it, is going to be different. But the continuum is man’s desire to tell stories around the campfire. The only thing that keeps changing is the campfire.”
But he does also have a cautionary side note as well:
“From where I sit I see the digital cinema creating sloppiness on the part of filmmakers because they know if they really get in trouble they can fix it later. So they don’t pay that much attention, and of course it costs a lot of money.”
For his part in the continued evolution of cinema, his films have seen both sides of the coin, pushing boundaries, but also at times held back by the very mediums he’s tried to forge ahead with; in particular motion capture, which he adopted at a time where the technology had more than a few issues still. Regardless of the pros and cons of his filmmaking approach, he has yielded results over his career. Who could argue that Back to the Future isn’t more or less the perfect family film? He is at least seemingly against using digital technology to make changes to his past films, unlike George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, for example.
Change in cinema is inevitable. It is after all, relatively speaking, not a particularly old form of art, ever changing and adapting along with technological advancements. It might not always be smooth sailing, but you can be sure that with Robert Zemeckis at the helm, the evolutionary journey of cinema will at the least be interesting.
For more on Robert Zemeckis, CGI and animation, check out “CGI, Animation and the Push For Reality”, here on Flicks and Pieces.
In response to the Daily Post Challenge: Change.