Traditional film vs CGI and visual effects

Photo of Christopher Nolan via

Photo of Christopher Nolan via

The debate on films and movies

By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist


July 21 began an important weekend in the history of cinema. Two highly anticipated films were released on that day, and they both involved movie technology. It also continued the debate between film and digital. There was a glorious IMAX film shot in 70mm, Dunkirk, about a beach evacuation during World War II, and a 3-D CGI adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The film that is number one may determine which format is better.

Traditional film (as opposed to digital) is starting to make a big comeback, beginning with The Hateful Eight, which was released in a 70mm roadshow style. The film tried to recreate the experience of a roadshow, with an intermission included in the movie. Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk, talks about an evacuation of British soldiers from a French beach during World War II and is shown from three perspectives: the ground, the water, and the air. Nolan is a supporter of traditional film and is also big fan of IMAX, and 70 per cent of the film is filmed in IMAX. He wanted to make a movie that created, “the sensation of virtual reality without the goggles.”

I saw Dunkirk in IMAX on 70mm film. The IMAX scenes are very sharp and have a lot of colour, especially during the scenes that take place in the air. Most of the scenes that were filmed in 70mm are very grainy and are not as colourful as the IMAX scenes. Depending where you sit in the theater, it works well to put you in the movie and lets you experience what the soldiers had to go through during the evacuation. The film does not have a lot of dialogue, which means that they could use of the IMAX camera more, as it is a very noisy camera. Hans Zimmer’s score is great because it uses the sound of a clock ticking to enhance the score until the end of the movie.

The other highly anticipated movie that was released on that weekend is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which the commercials promoted as a 3-D event. The director of The Fifth Element and this film, Luc Besson, is a big fan of the original comic book series that the movie is based on. When the film was announced at Comic-Con last year, a lot of people were excited for it.

While I would like to see Valerian, I decided not to because of the final box office results. Overall, Dunkirk was number one with $50 million, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was number five with $17 million. It didn’t even reach number two, which went to the comedy Girls Trip. This shows that a lot of people prefer traditional 70mm film, because Dunkirk does not have CGI in it and Valerian is a visual effects driven movie. Valerian is one of those movies that could be great, but did not do well in the theatres.

With the success of Dunkirk, we will probably see more films being released in 70mm in the next few years.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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One comment on “Traditional film vs CGI and visual effects
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