Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Finding Film: the importance of broadening cinema on mainstream TV?

Interesting that on the back of overhearing a debate on the radio this morning about the merits of funding the BFI film and TV archive against funding restoration of the Cutty Sark, I should stumble across a little post by Pete Ashton, resident Brum spokesperson and ace photographer and all round good culture vulture for the greater Birmingham region.

Today I found Ashton's piece on how he first learn about films, especially non-British films, via the wonders of TV.

He's right to note that it's become something of a returning complaint in recent years - that mainstream terrestrial TV no longer caters to the broader dynamics of presenting film. Once upon a time, BBC2 had regular foreign films (even if they were sometimes at ungodly hours of the day - though crucially several were scheduled in prime time), and regular serious film review programmes, AND the brilliance of Alex Cox's Moviedrome slot with a good intro to the subsequent screening. I watched dozens of classic films on my portable b&w tv (good job many of them were b&w!). Now, unless you fancy - and can get - BBC4, you're pretty much bollixed for seeing non-US/UK films. Hell, even C4 used to give its late nights over to so called art-house cinema. As for getting an education in film history: forget it.

So Pete Ashton's solution is rental. And I have to say its something I have been considering for some time and may well take up. I quite fancy working my way through a catalogue of great world cinema, both as a reminder of my youth and to see more of the films I really should have watched anyway.

What were the films you remember seeing that now never get a terrestrial outing? Or do you think the segmentation and reliance on digital channels is positive for new generations to learn about film?

Or will the fact that we're ALL going to be digital soon enough make this argument redundant? Does it matter if mainstream channels don't screen older, classic, world cinema films if they're available on DVD or specialist channels?

1 comment:

Max Bob said...

Yeah, I posted on this theme a while ago, and I too regret the loss of classic cinema to the satellite moguls. I have fond memories of the long, long seasons that the BBC in particular used to run. Natalie Wood, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, even that old fraud Brando.

These days a "season" can be over in a weekend. When Elvis died, they showed just about every film he ever made, over a long period of time. Now we get a week, and about two or three films, job done.

I honestly feel sorry for the young. They stand no chance of gaining any kind of perspective on film history. In 'A' level media, even, they charge the teacher to restrict study to "recent" films - within 2-5 years of starting the course. This means that not only can you not look at something like Sweet Smell of Success, but can't even look at Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight, or even the best film ever made, 10 Things I Hate About You!

It'd be funny if it wasn't so depressing.

Enjoy your holiday.