Is cinema dead? Not the act of creating a film itself (and its subsequent release across thousands of screens Worldwide), but the narrative of cinema. The story and history of cinema itself. As cinema is an art, or at least has the potential to be an art, and the narrative of art is directly linked to the narrative of homo sapien's as a species, what happens when the story of humankind reaches an end? Or will the story of humankind ever really reach a conclusion?
Now unless I completely misinterpreted what Paul Schrader was saying in his article Film Canon, he sees humankind's narrative coming to an end in the next century, and therefore the end of the narrative of art itself. I, like David Bordwell am not quite as skeptical. I don't agree with the predicted speed or even the course of the great technological advancements that futurists Ray Kurweil and Joel Garreau have foreseen. The world in which they inhabit seems so far removed from reality, I find it hard to take serious. Have we become that egotistical that we believe we can remove ourselves that far from nature, and have the ability to have that much control over it?
I love William Gibson. I love Mamoru Oshii. And I love Masmune Shirow. But I see no sign of artificial intelligence or the end of a physical body for all conscious beings anytime soon. If Kevin Smith should be remembered for anything, it should be his hilarious short The Flying Car. Futurists in the 1950's thought we'd be colonizing Mars, and so far we've landed on the moon. Once. Maybe.
But I digress. Maybe because, as Schrader points out in the article, he has only 10 years left of film making in him, and therefore since the narrative of film is ending for him, it is ending for film itself. But I find the communal experience of going to the cinema far more enlightening than even watch a movie on my TV, let alone on my computer. Alienation is completely unnatural. We are social beings. Despite how easy it is to sit at home and play World of Warcraft, I gain far more pleasure playing Dungeons and Dragons because I interact with people face to face. However advanced the Internet may become, nothing can replace real human contact. It can be debated that the decline of our society and the rapid growth of mental and social problems can be linked to our growing lack of social interaction. There is a spiritual connection that exists between people in a theatre that cannot be replicated with 1's and 0's. It accesses a plane of consciousness beyond a computer's comprehension.
Do I think film as an art will change? Yes. I think it will become more interactive, but I think the cinema will always exist. But I also think that in 100 years, the world will be pretty much the same. I think we will people will be making short films about how the world is suppose to be filled with androids possessed with artificial intelligence, and all conscious beings will become ageless as our bodies cease to exist, but instead we still drive cars and take walks in the park. Well, maybe then, we will have flying cars.