London Film Festival: Christopher Nolan Applauds Quentin Tarantino for 70mm Release of 'Hateful Eight'

Christopher Nolan
BAFTA/Jonathan Birch

The 'Dark Knight' director, a keen advocate of film over digital, throws his weight further behind the traditional medium.

Christopher Nolan helped kick off the BFI London Film Festival’s inaugural LFF Connects program of talks on Friday afternoon with a debate labeled ‘Reframing the Future of Film.’

The discussions  aimed at sparking collaborative discourse between film and the other creative arts  saw The Dark Knight director, a keen advocate of film over digital and of film preservation, throw his weight further behind the medium and criticize how it is often disregarded as a specific art form.

“You go to a museum, you’re not looking at a photograph of a painting, you can’t advertise that. And yet in the film world we’re very happy to show a DCP of Lawrence of Arabia that none of the filmmakers were in any way involved with.”

Any transfer from film to digital, he said, would always be an “approximation,” claiming that issues such as tonality, especially white skies, were impossible to reproduce.

Nolan shot Interstellar on 35mm and IMAX 70mm film, arguing that the size of the cameras compared to digital didn’t prove to be an issue.

“We were in very cramped spaces shooting with a very large camera,” he said. "My DP, Hoyte van Hoytema, at the beginning of the shoot was very determined that he could hand hold an IMAX camera, which  having done two films in IMAX before — I said was absolutely impossible. But Hoyte, he’s just a big strong Dutch boy, he’d just run around with this camera on his back.”

Interstellar was released at various 70mm film and 35mm film theaters a few days prior to its wide release in November 2014, and Nolan applauded Quentin Tarantino for going even further with the December release of The Hateful Eight, for which he is retrofitting 50 theaters with 70mm projectors and showing the film almost two weeks earlier than digital.

“For years, filmmakers who wanted to shoot digital would promote the fact that the cameras are lighter, easier or whatever, but my response would always be, ‘If David Lean, or rather David Lean’s crew, can put a 65mm in the desert, why should I care that your camera is lighter, unless you’re doing something with it you couldn’t do,” he added.

“But if what you’re doing is traditional film craft, the audience shouldn’t care what it cost, what the budget of the film was, or how difficult it was to make or how difficult it is for the theater houses to present the film.”

Nolan also argued that many modern cinemas were short-changing their customers by not offering the full cinematic projector experience.

“For some reason it’s become acceptable to just provide an empty room with a TV in it on which you can watch a film. You’re not putting on a show, that experience for the audience isn’t valued and that has to change.”

Other speakers lined up for the LFF Connects talks over the coming week include virtual reality pioneer Chris Milk and experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson. Anderson will be interviewed by Brian Eno at an event on Oct. 15 sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter.