Movie fans everywhere have been bracing themselves for the end of film, and this is probably the clearest sign yet it's going the way of the extinction sooner than later.
Yes, Martin Scorsese is shooting his next film, The Wolf of Wall Street on digital, like the 3D classic Hugo. Of course, Scorsese will always turn out masterful movies, even if he has to work on a cell-phone camera.
But as much as the Hollywood veteran loves film, and as tough and as stubborn as he is when he wants something, the writing's on the wall about the end of the long-standing format.
As his long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who won the Academy Award three times for Raging Bull, The Aviator, and The Departed, told Collider, "It would appear that we've lost the battle. I think Marty just feels it's unfortunately over, and there's been no bigger champion of film than him."
We recently reported on TG that in spite of pressure from Warner Brothers, Christopher Nolan shot The Dark Knight Rises on film, and he encouraged other filmmakers to demand it as well. But the fact that Scorsese, arguably our greatest living filmmaker, is making his next film in digital may indeed mean that this is the end. (As we've also reported on TG, the cut off point for theaters to get digital projectors is next year).
It's a given that there's infinitely more range, depth, and texture with film, but you do indeed hope the technology will eventually get so good we ultimately won't know the difference. And there's been very impressive films made with digital where it's indeed very hard to tell the difference, and digital added even more. Not to mention the format is great for working in extremely low light levels, as David Fincher has proven.
Unfortunately, future choice between digital and film will be severely limited, but hey, that's the price of progress as they say. And it's also important to remember that a tool is only as good as whoever uses it, and a terrible filmmaker can have all the best film equipment in the world, and the movie's still going to blow if he has no talent.
Again, if Spielberg, Scorsese, and every other great filmmaker had to work with a cellphone camera, you can bet they'll still come up with something pretty amazing - no matter how severe the limitations.