New Technologies and Traditional Cinema By Jean-Max Mejean

in 13rd Geneva Festival Tous Ecrans

by Jean-Max Méjean

With their images often in morbid colors, the films projected within the framework of the festival of Geneva “Cinéma Tout Écran” are often carried out in numerical Beta SP and raise the question of new technologies in terms of traditional cinema. I had already considered the question in the number two edition of “Médiamorphoses” with a file entitled “Towards a Numerical Cinema?”, but the conference set up during the festival tried to answer even more this recurring and complementary question: To produce and consume fiction at the time of Internet epoch? It would seem that the Internet is, nowadays, presented more and more like the panacea.

However, if it is a formidable communication tool, I think that it is necessary to remain very vigilant concerning the diffusion of the images and especially their creation. Except that these images are never very beautiful and not very clear, in turn developing a new rather debatable aesthetic, one will never be able to cross over to the rather demagogic camp which consists in thinking that everyone is an artist. As said so well by Gaetano Stucchi, organizer of the conference, it is as if one gave everyone a pencil and paper. Will they therefore become a Picasso or a Michelangelo? And if they were all given a portable telephone, would they remake La Strada (1954) or L’Avventura (1960)? The question merits to be asked at the risk of sounding old fashioned or even worse reactionary like this poor Finkielkraut. Of course it is difficult to be unaware of the formidable aesthetic revolution that Internet, nolens volens, is giving birth to under our eyes. Just as neo-realism was essential after the war in an Italian cinema context, the Internet is perhaps creating a new genre which one could describe as new fiction or new unreality (neo-realism). History will tell. For the moment, it is nevertheless a question suitable to concern severe critics and that the film eXistenZ (1999) by David Cronenberg made evident: there is a danger to manipulate the virtual and pass it off as real. As for the cinema, when it plays with fiction, it needs to keep the poetic dimension which makes us enter into another world, as Woody Allen so well demonstrated in his film The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985).

Lastly, just in the field of the consumption of images, is there not a certain danger to consume alone whereas in the cinema, this vast uterus so dear to Fellini, proposes a collective and reassuring emotion. Profusion and dispersion seem to be the teats of this new kind. Will the cinema remain independent or it will be definitively marked by the new technologies? Already, it shows the answer as the next film of Brian de Palma, Redacted, by proposing false films supposedly amateur, realized by the soldiers during the war in Iraq. Between real and imagined, the cinema must find its place and that the Internet becomes something other than a media support with the arrival of Net 2.0 even more interactive? In short, a mini-revolution is en route. Who will win?