Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Why digital-video films may be here to stay

Why digital-video films may be here to stay. Their low cost and the feeling of immediacy they evoke could mean that audiences will have to adjust, says Owen Gleiberman

Posted on

Why digital-video films may be here to stay

Am I the only one bothered by digital-video films? The grainy, sickly pallor that DV casts over a movie distracts me to no end. What’s your take on the current state of film versus digital? — Douglas

A lot more enthusiastic than yours. Since 1996, when ”Breaking the Waves” put digital video on the map as a viable expressive medium for a dramatic feature, so many directors have chosen DV for the basic economics of it (i.e., it’s cheap) that the raw, electromagnetic look of these films is routinely written off as a necessary evil. I would beg to differ. Video, at least in its bargain-basement, glorified-camcorder mode, may lack the warmth and glow of film, but it has a present-tense documentary immediacy that can’t be duplicated in any other way. The ”harsh” home-movie look of DV films like ”Personal Velocity” or ”The Blair Witch Project” or ”Chuck & Buck” is intrinsic to their aesthetic — analogous, in its way, to the watershed use of jittery handheld camera in films like ”Easy Rider” 35 years ago. DV, I predict, may one day look beautiful, but it will be our eyes that have changed.

(Got a movie-related question for Owen or Lisa? Post it here.)