There’s a magic, a real powerful sense of alchemy that comes from watching light projected through a strip of 35mm film at 24 frames per second. You can feel the chemical, analog process that has brought out light and shadows, brilliant colors and human faces. It’s special.
But it’s also dying. With Hollywood getting fully behind the transition to digital cinema, new prints of 35mm films will slowly start to disappear and soon stop altogether, even for rentals of archival prints. Now digital cinema is nothing to fear, there are great artists like David Fincher and Steven Soderbergh that have embraced it, but what makes no sense – and what’s worth fighting back against – is why that means 35mm has to die out altogether. In fact contrary to popular belief that “everything is on DVD”, each time a new format comes in a part of film history fails to make that transition. Not every film ever made will eventually have a pristine HD copy available for it. Film is part of our cultural heritage, and a key piece in the history of this artform.
Luckily there’s a cause forming to help save the fragile beauty of film. Julia Marchese of Los Angeles’s wonderful repertory house the New Beverly has started a petition that is gaining momentum online to express our film fan desire to keep 35mm prints circulating. If you have a minute today, I urge you to sign it. 35mm forever!