"Cinema is devalued": Martin Scorsese opposes streaming platform policy

"Cinema is devalued": Martin Scorsese opposes streaming platform policy

17 February , 15:57CulturePhoto: инстаграм Мартина Скорсезе
The famous filmmaker published an essay dedicated to Federico Fellini, in which he reiterated his disagreement with what is happening now in the film business. Scorsese has criticized streaming platforms that equate movie masterpieces with mainstream production and treat the viewer as a consumer.

In the article “Il Maestro. Federico Fellini and the lost magic of cinema", which appeared in the March issue of Harpers magazine, Martin Scorsese recalls how as a teenager he watched the films of Bergman, Truffaut and Antonioni in New York cinemas, analyzes the main works of Fellini, and also speaks about the current state of cinema. Here are some quotes from the essay.

Fast forward to these days, when the art of cinema is systematically depreciated, relegated to the background, belittled and reduced to the lowest common denominator - 'content'. Fifteen years ago, the term "content" sounded only in serious discussions, it was opposed to "form". And then, gradually, people who headed media companies began to use it more and more often. Most of them knew nothing about the history of this art form and did not even think about taking an interest in it. "Content" has become a business term for any moving image: a David Lynch movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero movie, a TV episode. This has to do with watching movies at home on streaming platforms, which have become more popular than going to the movies, just as Amazon shopping has become more popular than live shopping. On the one hand, this is good for filmmakers, including me. On the other hand, this has led to a situation in which the viewer is provided with everything on an equal footing, which may seem like democracy, but in reality it is not. If films for further viewing are offered on the basis of an algorithm that is guided by what you have already seen, subject or genre, what does this have to do with the art of cinema?"

“Curatorship is not something undemocratic or 'elitist' - the latter term is now used so often that it has become nonsense. It is an act of generosity - you share what you love and what inspired you. (The best streaming platforms like Criterion Channel and MUBI and TV channels like TCM are curated, they are curators.) This is how they differ from algorithms that are computationally based and treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else".

“Everything has changed - both cinema and its significance for culture. Of course, it is not surprising that such artists as Godard, Bergman, Kubrick and Fellini, who once reigned in our great art like gods, eventually receded into the shadows. But we shouldn't take it for granted. We cannot rely on the film business as it stands today. In the movie business, which is now a visual entertainment business, the emphasis is on the word "business" and the value of a project is determined by the amount of money it brings; therefore, Sunrise, The Road, and 2001: A Space Odyssey would now be referred to by streaming platforms in the art cinema section. Those of us who know cinema and its history should share our love and knowledge with as many people as possible. And we need to make it clear to the current legal owners of these films that they represent much more than just property to be exploited and then hidden. They are one of the greatest treasures of our culture and must be treated accordingly. I think we also need to clarify our understanding of what cinema is and what cinema is not. Federico Fellini is a good example. There is a lot to be said about Fellini's films, but one thing is certain: this is a movie".

Scorsese's full essay can be read here.

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