Monday, January 15, 2007

The immortality of film

I always thought that books would outlast movies because movies, until the advent of home video, were difficult to obtain and play at home or at school. Remember how many times the films you saw in high school and college suffered technical glitches in the course of being shown? The lights would come up and the leading smart asses in the group would start goofing on the hapless projectionist?

But times, as they are apt to do, have changed.

We live in a media culture that is almost completely visual, everything from video games to dumb ass blockbuster special effects movies to newcasts that won't deal with anything they can't get good video of. Visual visual visual.

I thought of this recently because I spent a good part of the week watching Turner Classic's salute to Anthony Mann. I wondered if a writer would ever be given such a tribute. Then I saw the Peckinpah documentary and was convinced that even with the aid of the internet reading would probably continue to decline in this country.

Hard to believe that even the greatest of novelists would ever be dealt with in this manner outside of NPR (which recently an extraordinary two hour celebration of Walt Whitman) to PBS.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I discovered a while ago that during the greatest period of English literature, when works we consider immortal were being written, there were only a few thousand people in all of England who could read beyond a rudimentary level. The greatest of all English-language literature was for the few. We are headed in the same direction. Visual media will be the storytelling choice of the multitudes, and a handful will continue to enjoy stories told in writing (which stir the imagination far more than visual media do, and are more rewarding).

Richard S. Wheeler