Sunday, October 12, 2008

Our Very Own Library of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria was the largest library in the ancient world. The aim of this ancient Egyptian library was to collect the world’s knowledge. It was said that when foreign ships came into port that their books, and all written material was confiscated, copied, and returned to its owners.

The library was tragically destroyed in a fire. Scholars still lament the loss of this vast repository of knowledge. What would we know if we had this ancient information at our fingertips?

I am old enough to remember the advent of the VCR. The idea that you could tape a show and watch it later or keep it forever was amazing. But even more amazing was the idea that you could watch whatever movie you wanted when you wanted. For a boy like me, who had wanted since the age of five to be a filmmaker, this was not a mere piece of technology, but a gift from the gods.

When Orson Welles wanted to learn how to make films, he screened John Ford’s film Stage Coach over and over again. Before the VCR this required a film print and projector. For most people this was cost prohibitive. Other students of film would have to sit through multiple screenings of a movie in order to study it. And in those days when a film left the theater that was it. There was no cable. There was no VCR, DVD, or Blu-ray. When a film was gone, it was gone. If you were lucky, you might see it on TV. But even then it would be cut up to make it family-friendly and to allow for commercials.

But with the VCR, any young student of film could do just what Orson Wells did. I dreamed how the VCR would advance the craft of filmmaking, because now we all had the history of film at our disposal.

Think of it: the history of film is just over a hundred years old and much of the best work by the best filmmakers in history is available to us. This is our library of Alexandria.

Our teachers can be Eisenstein, Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Capra, Ford, Kurasawa, Hawks, Welles, Lean, Wilder, Hitchcock, Wellman, Wyler, Houston, Stevens, Lumet, Ritt, Cukor, Kazan, Bergman, Pollack, Peckinpah, Donen, Logan, Rydell, Le Roy, Forman, Preminger, Penn, Milestone, Minnelli, Kramer, Wise, Lang, Ashby, Zinnemann, Hiller, Vidor, Milestone, Lubitsch and countless more.

Yet I am constantly amazed, talking to younger film students, to find that they have seen almost no classic cinema. They are put off by black-and-white photography or some other superficial quality of older films. Are you going to let something so small stop you from learning from the best? People who study physics still study Newton and Einstein. They understand and respect what those who came before have something to teach them.

Historic 2018Blockbuster2019 Store Offers Glimpse Of How Movies Were Rented In The Past

The Library of Alexandria still has something to teach us: we cannot take for granted the vast store of knowledge we have at our disposal. As filmmakers, why not take the opportunity to learn from those who came before us? It is the best way to go further than they did.


Dog Bites Back said...

Your comment on young students and classic cinema really resonated with me. As a film student, I thought saying you liked Hitchcock would be cliché. Turns out hardly anyone in my class had ever even seen one of his movies.

Great post, will definitely be coming back!

mcnooj82 said...

Young 'filmmakers' who don't even attempt to watch the classics are at a disadvantage. Access to the 'archives of cinema' is SO easy now. There is so much choice and with that much choice comes a lot of noise to distract us. Back in the era you speak of, one had to be truly dedicated in order to gain access to knowledge. There was difficulty, but that difficulty would make victory that much sweeter and more meaningful.

I've read someone write about how he took a cheap audio recorder into Star Wars back when it premiered and listened to it under his blanket at night.

I even look back fondly on editing my movie projects between 2 VCRs. It was a crude pain in the ass but when I thought it worked it was completely gratifying.

It's SO easy and plentiful now. It's something I both enjoy and bemoan. It makes creating really genuine connections to art harder.

Anonymous said...

Nice Page!
飯店,住宿,HOTEL,婚宴,台北住宿,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,訂房,國內訂房,結婚,,婚宴,,台北結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,場地,尾牙春酒,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,SEO,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,學區,捷運,小套房,看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,美髮,儀器,髮型,EMBA,MBA,學位,EMBA,專業認證,認證課程,博士學位,DBA,PHD,在職進修,碩士學位,推廣教育,DBA,進修課程,碩士學位,課程介紹,學分班,文憑,學位,碩士學位,進修,在職進修,課程,教育,學位,證照,mba,文憑,學分班,在職進修,MBA,EMBA,留學,MBA,EMBA,留學,進修,在職進修,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,日式料理, 台北居酒屋,日本料理,居酒屋,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網站排名,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網站排名,SEO,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,EMBA,MBA,PMP,在職進修,專案管理,出國留學,漢高資訊,漢高資訊,比利時,比利時聯合商學院,宜蘭民宿,台東民宿,澎湖民宿,墾丁民宿,花蓮民宿,SEO,找工作,汽車旅館,阿里山,日月潭,阿里山民宿,東森購物,momo購物台,pc home購物,網路購物,手機,手機王,數位像機,衛星導行,GPS,小筆電,機油漢高資訊,漢高資訊,在職進修,漢高資訊,在職進修,住宿,住宿,整形,造型,室內設計,室內設計,漢高資訊,在職進修,漢高資訊,在職進修,住宿,美容,室內設計,在職進修,羅志祥,周杰倫,五月天,住宿,住宿,整形,整形,室內設計,室內設計,比利時聯合商學院,在職進修,比利時聯合商學院,在職進修,漢高資訊,找工作,找工作,找工作,找工作,找工作,蔡依林,林志玲,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索