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Is Cinema Dead?

GreenawayVariety reports that the always-controversial British filmmaker Peter Greenaway has declared cinema officially dead.

Speaking to a master class at the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea, Greenaway said that all of the interesting work these days is being done in video and electronic filmmaking.

Putting the death of cinema at 1983, “when the remote control was introduced to the living room" (guess they got VCRs in his neighborhood later than we did), the director of such groundbreaking films as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Prospero’s Books dismissed the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films as merely illustrated books, and called adaptations of Jane Austen novels “a waste of time.”

Let me admit that I’m a great fan of Greenaway and his films, which I generally find delightful to look at even if they are way over my head. I’ve heard him speak a number of times, and recognize that he likes to provoke an audience. I’ve heard him say a lot of these things before, and I suspect the Variety article just pulled the juciest quotes.

Still, just because some kinds of classic cinematic storytelling have been done over and over again doesn’t mean I would never like to see them again. Rock and roll may all be the same three chords, but that doesn’t mean a teenaged bar band can’t still knock your socks off by playing old Chuck Berry songs.

We all have our favorite eras in movie history. So let’s take a poll: Do you think that the art and craft of moviemaking peaked years ago, and that we’ve just been seeing variations ever since? Or are movies getting better all the time?

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