My comment on W(a/o)ndering Filmmaking’s blog post about digital projection as a harbinger of the death of cinema—that presentation dictates form—prompted the blogger to ponder whether the abundance of content in this new Digital Age will ultimately lead to an overall devaluation of content. My two cents:
Quick rumination today—not a lengthy dissertation!
Yesterday, I came across this article about Quentin Tarantino’s statement at Cannes that digital projection is the death of cinema (I’d heard him say something similar on a recent episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson). It got me thinking about the general subject of digital filmmaking: All the major studios and many prominent filmmakers (Robert Rodriguez, age 46; Steven Soderbergh, 51; James Cameron, 60) have embraced digital video over traditional film stock; several prominent directors, however, still prefer to shoot on celluloid: Christopher Nolan (44); Tarantino (51); Steven Spielberg (67), who also still edits on film! I was compelled to post a response to the piece, which I have reproduced here with a few amendments:
Last week, we looked at the Joker as portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster Batman and analyzed his five traits:
- Criminally, murderously sociopathic
- Wickedly macabre sense of humor
This interpretation somewhat varied from those that had come before it: He was certainly more lethal than Cesar Romero’s Clown Prince of Crime from the old Adam West series, and artistic is such a singular Tim Burton peculiarity—a signature he left on the crazy-quilt mosaic that comprises the Joker in his ever-evolving mythic totality; in American Idol’s clichéd parlance, Burton “made it his own.” His Joker shared an undeniable DNA strand with the arch-villain created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane in 1940, the one later personified by Romero in the sixties, as well as then-contemporary comic incarnations as envisioned by Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns), Alan Moore (The Killing Joke), and Grant Morrison (Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth), despite the markedly different aesthetics within which each of those varied interpretations were realized.
Because where is the line drawn, really, between a reinterpretation and an altogether different character? How does an artist (in a vocationally general sense) redefine a folkloric figure to reflect his own personal idiosyncrasies, the sociocultural conditions of the day, or both, while still working within the recognizable parameters of a time-honored fictional creation?