Watching The Dictator projected on 35mm at the Somerville recently, I was reminded of the pitfalls of developing refined taste in things. As are most Hollywood film prints these days, it was processed with DI. Before meeting Kornfeld, I wouldn't have noticed a thing. But I was slowly starting to see what he meant. Sacha Baron Cohen's face looked monotonic, pasty. His shirt was just a wash of a single red. The shadowed part of his face in a darkened love scene disappeared into black, where I knew it should have detail.
DI is the first wave of what David calls the "digital holocaust." Most Boston theaters either have converted to all-digital projection or soon will. Major studios have signaled they will stop distributing 35mm prints. The Somerville's Christies are high-end machines that cost $60,000 apiece and bear little resemblance to the digital projector on the conference table at your work. But they are digital, and feature all the flaws of DI and then some.
I'll just step back here and let Kornfeld roll.
"Digital sucks. It is a giant, complete, total crock. It is a scam. It is a lie. It is a de-evolution, it is a step backwards, it is garbage. You are not getting the kind of experience that you would be able to get with film. You are being cheated. You have an inferior image, inferior sound, inferior color rendition, inferior motion tracking, inferior shadow detail, inferior light, inferior in every conceivable, possible thing.
"When you talk about quality and digital in the same sentence, it's almost laughable to me. You can't uphold a high standard of presentation with digital. That's the problem with it. It just naturally sucks. And you know, it's one of those things where if you read these jerkweeds it's like, 'Oh, we have this resolution now and this resolution, and we can do this to this, and we can do this to this, and we can add the grain to it and scratches and make it look more like film' — just so that no one in the world will shoot or project in film! Now if you can explain that crap to me, I would love to understand it. You've already got the superior technology right in your hands.
"It's the death of an entire craft and the death of an entire way of seeing movies. And the problem is, if it goes too far, if this ridiculousness goes too far, it's something you're never going to be able to bring back, alright? At least not easily. And so, you know, if you think watching, oh, I don't know, Lawrence of Arabia on your television screen at home is the same as watching a 70mm presentation of it, you're out of your mind. OK? It isn't. And the problem is that they can push it to the point where you'll never see it right again."
COMPETITIVE With the help of David Kornfeld, general manager Ian Judge was able to upgrade the
Somerville Theatre to a first-run house, with access to blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises.
FACING DOWN THE FUTURE