The death of cinema: history, cultural memory and the digital dark age
It is estimated that about one and a half billion hours of moving images were produced in 1999, twice as many as a decade before. If that rate of growth continues, one hundred billion hours of moving images will be made in the year 2025. In 1895 there were just above forty minutes of moving images to be seen, and most of them are now preserved. Today, for every film made, thousands of them disappear forever without leaving a trace. Meanwhile, public and private institutions are struggling to save the film heritage with largely insufficient resources and ever increasing pressure from the commercial world. Are they wasting their time? Is the much feared and much touted Death of Cinema already occurring before our eyes? Is digital technology the solution to the problem, or just another illusion promoted by the industry?
In a provocative essay designed as a collection of aphorisms and letters, Paolo Cherchi Usai brings an impassioned scrutiny to bear on these issues with a critique of film preservation, an indictiment of the crimes perpetuated in its name, and a proposal to give a new analytical framework to a major cultural phenomenon of our time.
The Death of Cinema is published in Italian as L'ultimo spettatore. Sulla distruzione del cinema 1999, Editore Il Castoro.
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35mm acetate print 35mm nitrate print Absolute Masterpiece Alfred Hitchcock already altogether artifact attention XXV audience British Film Institute Cineteca Clockwork Orange coefficient collective colour conservation consortium copies Courtesy creativity cultural DEATH OF CINEMA decay digital image Digital technology duplication effort electronic entity ephemeral established event exist fictional Film Archive film history film preservation film theory footage Frame enlargement George Eastman House goal of film history of cinema human image carrier image maker intertitles Kevin Brownlow Kubrick loss memory Model Image motion picture moving image archive moving image destruction moving image preservation National Film Nederlands Filmmuseum negative number of moving object original Paolo Cherchi Usai perceived photographic Pixar polyester possible posterity potential produced restoration restore films screen seen spectator Stanley Kubrick Stewart Brand techniques term there's thing tion Unidentified variables vaults vertigo viewer viewing experience vinegar syndrome vision visual XLIV XXVII