Thursday, December 29, 2011

digital histories

In the rush of postseason accolades for Martin Scorsese's Hugo, I've recently thought more about Sean Cubitt's work in The Cinema Effect on the "Event Film"--his articulation of the modern special effects blockbuster. The next aspect of Haunted Nerves, a forthcoming project on time and digital cinema, will be focused on the role of nostalgia and franchising in the Event Film (which I probably won't get to until late next year). I haven't had a chance to see the movie yet, so take this with a grain of salt. But there's something about the film's popularity with cinephiles and critics that I find potentially distressing (and not just that it supposedly reinstates the myth that early cinema audiences were dupes).

I think it has to do with Cubitt's premonition that--as special effects become more sophisticated and other genres fail to retain a mass audience--one day all major Hollywood movies will be overt fantasy films--not just the work of Lucas, Spielberg, Jackson and Cameron. Even Scorsese is in on it now. More precisely, I think of this quote from Cinema Effect:
History is no longer intrinsic to films but extrinsic. The description of effects-driven movies as enclosed and enclosing worlds may seem to remove them from the political analyses of ideology critique. That, indeed, is their purpose: to abstract themselves from the temporal to grasp the eternal.
Are we celebrating a film which is the epitome of Hollywood's lack of "historical consciousness"--in every sense of the phrase?

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