In 1982 Wim Wenders consulted 15 of his colleagues for their thoughts on the future of cinema. As it was the 35th Cannes Film Festival he managed to round up celebrated international auteurs such as; Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michelangelo Antonioni, Mike De Leon, Steven Spielberg, Romain Goupil, Ana Carolina and more and made ‘Room 666′.
Alone in a hotel room in front of the rolling camera with a tape recorder capturing their voice to their right and a silent television emitting a steam of images to their left – only Herzog had the sense to turn it off – they each respond to questions on a sheet that follow from the same prompt: “Is cinema a language about to get lost, an art about to die?” Their reactions make up this film.
What’s interesting about the conversations is that many of them are vexed with the issue of video, a new format in 1982. These days it is the internet and digital downloads. Different technology, same question. However this vexation has proven to be a misnomer. In 2012 cinema going is more popular than ever and the notion of home cinema as seen by Anthony Lane of the ‘New Yorker’ is an oxymoron;
There’s only one problem with home cinema: it doesn’t exist. The very phrase is an oxymoron. As you pause your film to answer the door or fetch a Coke, the experience ceases to be cinema. Even the act of choosing when to watch means you are no longer at the movies. Choice – preferably an exhaustive menu of it – pretty much defines our status as consumers, and has long been an unquestioned tenet of the capitalist feast, but in fact carte blanche is no way to run a cultural life (or any kind of life, for that matter), and one thing that has nourished the theatrical experience, from the Athens of Aeschylus to the multiplex, is the element of compulsion.
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