Was Al Pacino right about small screens?


Al_PacinoRecently, among various celebrations about his hugely successful acting career, Al Pacino said nobody should watch films on a small screen like a smartphone ( please correct me if I’m wrong ). He said certain ‘nuances’ would be lost.

He makes an interesting point. For someone who has made a career out of very good character acting and who never made a film role look particularly easy or straightforward, the idea of any of us simply switching on our phone to gain instant access to good films must be quite irritating. After all, it’s oh so easy nowadays to tune in wherever you are, for as long as you like, whether on your own or in company. Is that what serious film making is all about? Is he right?

Let’s take films first. You might say the onset of technology is irreversible. The speed of innovation is unstoppable; everyone does it ( does that make it right?). And the growing range of applications for shopping, travel, learning and increasingly in health and medicine is welcome and should be exploited. So why not watch a film like this?

A few points spring to mind. He says you’re going to miss ‘nuances’. He may well have a point here. It may be that the full effect of either a close up, or of a screen-filling vista will be lost on a small screen. So the experience that a film sets out to convey can’t be achieved. There is also the effect of being part of an audience at the cinema and the difference that makes. I can’t begin to tell you how many of us were screaming during the shower scene in Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ when I saw it but it certainly made the sound track seem louder. And laughing with others in good comedies somehow seems to intensify that wonderful feeling of abandon. Can you do that as well on your own?

Similarly, in the theatre I have been privileged to be part of a standing ovation at the end of a play – a Shakespeare. I swear there are not many similar experiences on the planet. It compares favourably with your team scoring the winning goal in the FA cup final. Or your favourite winning the Great British Bake Off.

So am I going to see a West End show at a local cinema because of a ‘streaming’? You bet I am. Despite all of the benefits of the large screen and the full stage mentioned aforementioned, to me at least there is, on balance, at least a place for the new technology. As long as we remember the real thing is always there.

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My last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. Prior to that, I worked in schools, colleges, adult education and the Arts, including a period as a local authority inspector. I'm going to make myself busy trying to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested.

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