Friday, January 10, 2014

Live or memorex?

The title heading refers to something most of you probably never saw. It was an ad campaign for Memorex cassette tape for both VHS video tapes and cassette audio tapes.  The commercials featured singers and inviting the viewer to guess -- was it live or on Memorex video or audio tape.

The idea, of course, is that tape is just as good as live. 

In the 70's, it was, or at least seemed to. Regardless, it was a great campaign and sold a lot of tape. But that was then...

Then came Gravity.  The movie.

In some ways it changed how movies will be made. It's not the first CGI movie, that was James Cameron's The Abyss, which was the first truly CGI experiment. And tons of movies with CGI followed, even Avatar, wherein Cameron gave us a real explosion into CGI. 

For those who don't know what CGI is, it's simply Computer Generated Images.  And it's leader was and probably will be again... James Cameron. A Canadian, by the way.

As you can imagine there are two sides to CGI. One side thinks it's fantastic and cool and hip while the other side thinks it's the end of movies as we know it. And there's some inbetween groups also.

I chose Gravity as a ground-breaking movie for a number of reasons. It's not the first full CGI movie, that was Avatar and it wasn't the best story. But what it did was to give us as close of a feeling to being 250 miles above Earth. 

Still, we all know it's not real. The movie that is. Sandra Bullock isn't really up there. What about this?

Or this --
This is real.

So what's the problem?

These scenes from John Ford's magnificent film, The Searchers, was made in 1956. A long time ago. Yet when you watch this film you can't help but regard this as truly "awesome". It takes you right into the movie and you can almost taste the dust from Monument Valley in Utah.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Avatar and Gravity, both are great movies in their own way.

It's just that they're not real.

Of course, movies are not real, we all know that. But the elements are real. The actors are real, Monument Valley is real. 

There's another movie I like to refer to called Vanishing Point, made in 1971 and a bit of a copy of Easy Rider. It's a car chase movie and far better than the Fast and Furious group of movies with a lot more action but less feeling.

Vanishing Point is about nothing in a sense. It's got a driver who races across the desert with police after him for more than nothing but a chase. Yet it's a little weird. And it has some of the best car chases ever. Without CGI. You can feel the crunch of cars in this movies because they are real.

So where am I going?

Scenery in a movie is one thing and it won't be long before actors all stand in a small room and fly to Mars or have car chases without leaving that room.

And of course, the next big thing is going to be reviving a dead actor with CGI. Brando and Mitchum and maybe John Wayne. Technology is going that way and even as I write, someone already has a CGI Marilyn Monroe just waiting to be presented to us.

She might  be perfect.

But she's not real.
And will we reach a point in which it doesn't matter?

Is it real or is it Memorex?

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