Apr 7, 2011

Sontag vs. Dargis

Manohla Dargis's piece in the New York Times "The 21st-Century Cinephile" rebuts many of the claims that Susan Sontag's article "The Decay of Cinema" discusses. Susan Sontag's lament of the death of cinephilia was clearly written before the world of blogs, message boards, facebook and twitter. She writes at the end of her piece, "If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love." Over the past 15 years since Sontag wrote her piece, cinema has been resurrected.

Dargis mentions a number of ways that cinema is still alive. For examples, the DVD, and now Blu-Ray, has made it possible to see movies you never could have before. Fans are able to see international, avant garde and short films quite easily, paving the way for not just viewers, but collectors. This may have the potential to deter people from seeing films in the theatre or at a festival, but I think for the most part, the access will fuel the desire to see these films on the big screen. There is a reason why places like Anthology and Film Forum still exist; people enjoy the cinematic experience. Maybe the audience numbers aren't as large as they were in the past, but the love of cinema still exists.
Dargis does rightly point out the problem with multinational corporations owning film studios, but this is an issue for a number of art forms. Truly great music for example, is no longer played on the radio because large corporations own the majority of the air waves. Those who truly love music have sought other ways to learn about the next big thing, primarily through blogs and message boards. This does not mean music is dead, but the way we learn about it and listen to it has changed. This is the same with film. You can easily learn about the next great French film by simply following a blog or even contacting someone from France. Cinephilia isn't dead; it has just evolved.

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