We’re about to see a massive change to the face of cinema. It appears the wonder of 35 mm celluloid film is about to disappear into the annals of film history as Martin Scorsese, one of the only remaining advocates for shooting film, has made the move to go wholly digital. The legendary filmmaker has chosen the digital format for his new film: The Wolf of Wall Street, but he won’t be going 3D.
Scorsese has long talked about the beauty of 35 mm and has been a vocal supporter of the format, even continuing to edit on film while other filmmakers changed to the digital system of the Avid. He also has been involved in high profile film restorations of classic films, having special screenings at Cannes each year for new prints of films such as the 1948 masterpiece The Red Shoes.
Scorsese’s long term editor Thelma Schoonmaker announced the news in a panel discussion at the Edinburgh Film Festival, saying:
It would appear that we’ve lost the battle. I think Marty just feels it’s unfortunately over, and there’s been no bigger champion of film than him. It’s a very bittersweet thing to be watching films with him now that are on film. We’re cherishing every moment of it. The number of prints that are now being made for release has just gone down, and it would appear that the theatres have converted so quickly to digital.
There are still a few advocates of film left, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are three high profile filmmakers who are holding on to 35 mm and all have said that while it’s still available they’ll still use it. But as their peers and colleagues, Peter Jackson and James Cameron, advance digital technology ever further, and important directors such as David Fincher are crafting stunning movies on digital cameras, the end for 35 mm isn’t too far away.
This is something we will have to embrace and accept eventually, but right now it’s time to mourn. In a couple of decades time there will be a whole generation who will never see a film on film, and very few people will ever get to experience the magic that Spielberg describes as “the sound of film going 24 fps through a shutter gate on a film projector.” Nor will we get the organic, fetishistic quality and smell of film that Scorsese himself described in a recent interview.
Schoonmaker also stated some other tidbits about The Wolf of Wall Street in the panel. She said principal photography begins in the second week of August and says that the film will be “pretty wild”.