Side by Side (2012)

Side By Side (2012)After all the posts I have made about this documentary, I sat down and rented the film from iTunes, something I don’t really ever do, or will ever do again. Having heard, and read so much about this documentary, I just couldn’t wait to watch this important film Side by Side (2012).

I feel that it’s a very important documentary that covers a lot of ground in just 90 minutes. A stimulating piece that was almost as engaging as The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011) on More4. Here Keanu Reeves covers all the important aspects of the history of celluloid film to the introduction of digital in the early nineties to its current form today and other aspects around them both.

It seems there are more directors in favor of the digital film than the cinematographer who needs more convincing. I can see how it frees up production time and costs, which today is a great advantage. I felt sorry for Christopher Nolan, who as great a director he is, he’s a dying and stubborn breed of director who wont shift on the matter as easily as his other contemporaries. Yet I understand his position, the process of images being captured photochemically, at times being superior to the digital. But I am constantly reminded of the likes of George Lucas who gave a famous conference in 2000 stating that the new technology are just tools. Coming from the biggest innovator and supporter of digital.

Turning to the other aspects such as the editing of film which has changed radically in the last 20 years from film, and the physically cutting and sticking of film to the edit suites with quiet monitors and giant keyboards. I notice how one editor commented that the traditional technique wasn’t good enough. Again its a method to achieve the directors vision and that vision is what it’s important.

I noticed how balanced the discussion was, made up from the multiple interviewees, allowing for the audience to make their own minds up. I feel from my point of view of my practice, when filming, I rely on a small digital camera, and a fair-sized memory card. I have the images that I need to achieve the desired result. Yet I understand and appreciate the art of the photochemical process that comes with 35mm film, I just can’t afford it.

The discussion moves onto the possibilities of digital, an aspect of film where I have settled my opinion, and shared with Martin Scorsese who is unsure of what the audience believes anymore. We need to know whats real and not. However it’s a medium where we escape to the unreal, so where does that leave us. With all the advances, such as colour-correction they try to involve the cinematographer to ensure the vision is maintained, the aren’t trying to take away from the vision. Again its the vision that is all important.

And how we view these visions was another important aspect, noting that there is a steady conversion digital projection, which takes away from the cinematic experience, to hear the running of the film through the projector as it runs through. Taking us through to the storage of film, how it lasts for as long as the oldest prints in existence. With so many digital formats around, some are already obsolete. It’s the return of film that allows them to stand the test of time. Whilst some of the more cynical interviews cast a more bleak light.

The supporting material that accompanied Side by Side (2012) only serves to enrich the discussion that is presented in a balanced manner. I can only give you my conclusion that sees digital as the inevitable future of the film medium, how we view it is changing too, which scares me somewhat (and subject for another posts) as time progresses. The position of film maybe to archive and prestige films, much as Technicolor was used originally to enhance a film, celluloid will become a treat and rare. I will always appreciate the scratched and dust that appear in the older films, they are literally part of their fabric and should be appreciated and embraced.


4 responses

  1. This sounds very interesting. Onto the Watchlist it goes! Thanks.

    February 16, 2013 at 8:23 am

    • Your welcome, well worth the watch

      February 16, 2013 at 11:19 am

  2. Wanted to thank you for your “Props” on my Mitchum story. I think you have a new fan in me.

    March 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    • Hi Gary, thanks for the comment, and you welcome too. If you want to stay up to date with my work and film reviews, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

      March 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

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