The Way It Was Meant To Be

The other day I was listening to some podcast jibjab about Oscar best picture winner The Hurt Locker and its current re-release woes. As has been trendy in recent years, big Oscar winners often get a second theatrical life. It seems however that major US exhibitors are reticent to give Kathryn Bigelow’s flick another shot at the big screen as it has already been released on DVD.

But this isn’t an essay on the closing release window gap that’s going to spell the inevitable destruction of the old way of doing things. *Sob*. Boring. What made my ears perk up during this discourse was when one commentator lamented that it was a shame that without a re-release few people will ever have seen Bigelow’s film on a big screen; “the way it was meant to be seen.”

This was interesting to me because with the cinemascape changing so much lately I wonder how many filmmakers still actually envision their movie on a big screen.

I used to design websites and one thing I learned very early on in this type of media design is that you can’t control everything. You do your best to cover all platforms, browsers, plug-ins, etc but when it comes down to it, your immaculate design doesn’t stand a chance against a computer user with his own control over his screen colour calibration, resolution and aspect ratio. So you do your best to control what you can and learn to accept what you can’t.

When I produce something I do think about the final destination. An obvious example would be where titling comes into play. A small font size on a big screen looks great - not so much when it is downgraded to a smudge on the web version. But titling can be altered for varied exports in post. Shot footage, less so. The notion of a close up or an extreme wide is going to change drastically depending on whether you’re shooting for a theater display or a cell phone. So, like, website design you sort of have to control what you can and accept that your brilliant cinematography and sound mix may not translate too well to, say, the LCD display and previously-loved headsets of an in-flight movie.

I’m not advocating mediocrity or settling for less than what your project deserves. I’m just thinking about the fact that the more the technologies advance - the more multifarious the media become - the more finesse it is going to take to bring out the best in your project wherever and however it is seen.

So will most people lamentably not see The Hurt Locker the way it was intended? That depends on what Kathryn Bigelow intended, I guess.

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