Guillermo Del Toro Says the State of Modern Cinema Is ‘Unsustainable’
Guillermo del Toro recently spoke at Cannes with a number of other cutting-edge filmmakers to talk about the current state of cinema. He had some thoughts, and the main theme was that that things can't continue the way they are.
There are a number of reasons why the film industry looks the way it does right now, but del Toro speaks about the reasons why with such clarity, that it’s best just to look at what he said.
There are many answers to what the future is. The one I know is not what we have right now. It is not sustainable. In so many ways, what we have belongs to an older structure ... That’s how profound the change is. We are finding that it is more than the delivery system that is changing. It’s the relationship to the audience that is shifting. Do we hold it, or do we seek and be adventurous?
Del Toro was also specifically worried about the loss of classic movies that may not be properly preserved for future generations. “We are in the present losing more movies from the past faster than ever before,” he explained. “It seems like we aren’t, but the mere disappearance of physical media is already having corporations curating what we watch, faster for us.”
There are a number of threads to pull on here. Streaming, the shift towards New Media, the loss of films that haven't been archived, and the way in which movies are consumed, specifically. Streaming services offer a curated list of films and TV shows, with no room for real variety or indulgence in cult films, save for a small number. By and large, what appears on streaming is based thoroughly on licensing and whatever the studios are pushing. Independent, foreign, and genre films all suffer as a result.
Prioritization of video content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and the algorithm on YouTube is largely to blame for a watering-down of content. In the early days of YouTube, animation was prevalent. With the algorithm shifting to favor videos upwards of 10 minutes and frequent uploading schedules, it seems like effort was increasingly discouraged.
This led to the rise of vlog content, countdown lists, and reaction videos, en masse. The only form of entertainment an entire generation willingly exposed themselves to became a shadow of what its potential was. But hasn’t this kind of content always been here? Maybe the nostalgia is too much. Reality TV has been a major cultural touchstone for a long time.
It’s no doubt difficult to cope with the shift we're seeing, and filmmakers at Cannes like del Toro have a point. But we have to remember, we've seen this before. This won’t be the last time it happens either. Film will always have a place in culture, but the form it finds itself taking will shift.