David Fincher Insists Movies Aren’t Dying While Dissecting the Tragedy of Today’s Cinema

2020 has been the most destructive year for films ever. The global lockdown of theaters brought the entertainment industry to the brink of collapse. For a special breed of pessimists, 2020 was merely a confirmation of what they have long viewed as the death of cinema, and moviemaking in general. According to filmmaker David Fincher, such kinds of talk is not only pointless but straight-up false, as he explained to Rolling Stone magazine.

“There’s this notion that the movies are dying. They’re not. There’s still minerals to mine, there are still jewels to be found, and there are still different ways to be shocked, entertained, uplifted, terrified. They’re just changing. You change with them. I think anyone who, like me, is curious about how to impart their story, there’s going to be plenty more opportunities, at least in the short term. And depending on how long this pandemic goes on, there may be need for a lot more.”

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Fincher is often seen as a “purist” when it comes to the cinematic art form, insisting on hundreds of takes for each movie scene just to get the perfect shot. But that does not mean the filmmaker is a snob who sees theaters as the only worthy medium for movies. Fincher was one of the first Hollywood elites to work with Netflix on providing content for the platform, and his latest movie Mank was also financed by the streaming giant.

While Fincher acknowledges that movie theaters are in dire straits, and the day might come that only big-budget movies like Marvel are shown in theaters, he believes we are still a long way off from mining the true depths of the cinematic art form.

“I believe that the tragedy of cinema today is that we’re only 100 years in and we think we know exactly what it is. We really don’t. What we’ve done is merely refined an experience to a story, which is The Hero with a Thousand Faces over and over again. We beat this drum and we beat it fairly regularly, because it’s a scam that pays out. But if I was to believe that we have reached the limits of what cinema can do, make us feel, talk about, I would be inordinately depressed. I’m not. I’m emboldened and I feel that . . . I don’t need any more published screeds of me talking about how unfair it is that Marvel wants to make a profit. I don’t have an issue with that. I’ve never had an issue with that.”

Continuing with his hopeful stance, Fincher concluded that the coming days will see filmmakers finding new ways to convey their stories to audiences, even as he admitted that the process of making a movie can be as frustrating as it is invigorating.

“There will always be people who are poking and prodding and digging and searching for new ways to do the same thing, and new ways to do things that we haven’t even yet imagined. Look, directing movies is a little like painting a watercolor from three blocks away through a telescope with a walkie-talkie and 90 people holding the brush. And as frustrating as that sounds, it’s also thrilling and invigorating when it comes off.”

These quotes came from Rolling Stone.

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