There are few directors Hollywood has produced that are better than Martin Scorsese. But, the legendary director has a lot of reservations against the modern movie industry. In a recent essay he wrote as part of the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Scorsese thinks cinema is being “devalued”.
Martin Scorsese details his grievances against the cinema of today
In his essay, Scorses talked about the “devaluing” of cinema. As the meaning of the word content changed in recent times. He wrote:
As recently as fifteen years ago, the term “content” was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form’. Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should.
Moreover, Scorsese attacked machine learning algorithms that streaming services use. He said that these algorithms recommend content to the viewers based on their previous viewings. As a result, it has damaged the “artistic” side of cinema, as Scorsese wrote:
If further viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?
This essay is similar to one Scorsese wrote in New York Times when he compared Marvel films to “theme parks”. This time, he said that the current industry is not helping art prosper. Martin Scorses is saying that despite recently doing a film with Netflix. He wrote in the essay, writing about the experiencing Fellini’s La Dolce Vita:
Here was an artist who had managed to express the anxiety of the nuclear age, the sense that nothing really mattered anymore because everything and everyone could be annihilated at any moment. We felt this shock, but we also felt the exhilaration of Fellini’s love for the art of cinema—and, consequently, for life itself.
He calls for a change in the industry
Scorsese sees that the industry and production companies have now evolved into a “mass visual entertainment business”. But, he still calls for the rehabilitation of the industry, saying:
Everything has changed—the cinema and the importance it holds in our culture. Of course, it’s hardly surprising that artists such as Godard, Bergman, Kubrick, and Fellini, who once reigned over our great art form like gods, would eventually recede into the shadows with the passing of time. But at this point, we can’t take anything for granted. We can’t depend on the movie business, such as it is, to take care of cinema… Those of us who know the cinema and its history have to share our love and our knowledge with as many people as possible. And we have to make it crystal clear to the current legal owners of these films that they amount to much, much more than mere property to be exploited and then locked away. They are among the greatest treasures of our culture, and they must be treated accordingly.
What do you think about these reservations that Martin Scorsese has against today’s film industry? Do you think he fails to evolve according to modern times, or does he have a point? Are streaming service algorithms destroying cinema or helping it grow? Let us know in the comments below!