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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

They just don't make them like this anymore

Right now, my husband and I are watching Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments . And I am once again reminded that they do not make movies like this anymore. There is an opulence about this movie. There were 14,000 extras. Now, CGI is used to create crowd scenes, not extras. It takes its time to do everything, luxuriating in every pan of the camera, every landscape. Watching today's films, you sometimes get the idea that all directors have ADHD (or think all moviegoers do). Almost no one dares make a film this long (Peter Jackson being one notable exception). Even Warner Brother decreed that none of the new Harry Potter films (after the first two) should be more than about 2 hrs long. And they were lesser films because of it. Taking a 734 page novel and turning it into a 2 hr movie can do damage. Goblet of Fire had a manic feel to it, largely because of the time constraints. It's why I almost always refuse to see a movie based on a Stephen King novel, unless it's a 2 - 4 night miniseries. Only something 4-8 hours long can do a large novel justice.

So why don't they? I think one reason is that the bean counters have taken over. They assume no one will pay to see a movie that long (obviously they have overlooked the success of Titanic). They also can do some math. A shorter movie can be shown on the same screen more times in a given day (5 versus 3 or 4) and can therefore make more money that way. But where does that leave the classic epic film? Look at the Lord of the Rings movies. Peter Jackson hacked the films to pieces to get them on screen and put them back together in their original form on DVD. And who among us hasn't seen a "Director's Cut" of a movie that wasn't significantly better than the theatrical release? There my be hope yet for moviemaking. It's just the theaters that might be left out in the cold.

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