Before acknowledging War of the Titles as a war, it is important to realize that when it comes to comparison between contemporary and classics—there is none.
But for the sake of discussion, it can be assumed that even if there was to be one, it would certainly not be on grounds of quality because the classics did not leave loopholes in productions that needed to be erased by modern makes.
The difference that has come about is because of technology which has revolutionized the production process. It can also be attributed to the loss of some great pioneers of the Golden Age whose death caused an irreparable loss to the industry.
Since the 1900s, a lot has changed with regards to the film industry from direction techniques, through production motives to acting skill set. Effectuated by this inevitable change, the entire landscape of the film industry has transformed. With higher budgets and different motives, much has to be considered by producers and directors before setting things into motion for a new release.
Here are a few factors that differentiate the classics from the contemporary.
Digital vs. Analog
Whether a film is going to be digital or physical depends largely on the plot and target audience that is hoped to engage. This is a huge shift from classic cinematography to modern cinematography.
The physical analog process of using camera that took frames of 24 photographs with instant negatives imprinted on a filmstrip seemed more laborious and prone to error than the modern digitized technology. But a lot has to be taken into account before shunning old-school methods. Even though physical film-making has been replaced with modern methods, the aesthetic value and realness of pictures lost with it cannot be replaced.
The Good Old Film Strips
The archaic practice of using filmstrips is what earned classics the stature that they enjoy. Unlike the pristine quality of digital reels, filmstrips live through a lifetime of fame that a classic revels in.
A classic cannot be a classic without ageing gracefully and staying exceptional at the same time. Calling a contemporary classic is fundamentally incorrect because time is a pivotal requirement for calling a movie classic.
This is why there is a dis-junction between classics and contemporaries because the latter has not served its term to be judged for its quality.
Flaws of Time
The flaws that appear on these filmstrips such as scratches or cigarette burns are not aesthetically jarring because they stand testimony to the tenure that the classic has served to be where they are today. The synthetically polished look of digital makes cannot compare to the soft, fading visuals of old movies that infuse nostalgia about a time gone by. If anything, classics stay true to the time they belong; contemporary films compete against time and strive to adopt a futuristic approach.
The antiseptic aura of modern production is what repulses a great award-winning director of classic movies: Quentin Tarantino, who calls it ‘television in public’. What this stands for is that empirical quality is not all that is required to make a film stay true to its objectives.
Like we said in the beginning, if the debate even exists, it dissolves when we consider the difference in motives for the film industry in each era. While one values the crackled voice and transportive depictions in classics, the other prefers a digitally crisp video that aims to delete the beauty of imperfections.
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