Cinema: Still Dying After All These Years
“Cinema’s 100 years seem to have the shape of a life cycle: an inevitable birth, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last decade of an ignominious, irreversible decline. It’s not that you can’t look forward anymore to new films that you can admire. But such films not only have to be exceptions — that’s true of great achievements in any art. They have to be actual violations of the norms and practices that now govern movie making everywhere in the capitalist and would-be capitalist world — which is to say, everywhere. And ordinary films, films made purely for entertainment (that is, commercial) purposes, are astonishingly witless; the vast majority fail resoundingly to appeal to their cynically targeted audiences. While the point of a great film is now, more than ever, to be a one-of-a-kind achievement, the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative film-making, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art, in the hope of reproducing past successes. Cinema, once heralded as the art of the 20th century, seems now, as the century closes numerically, to be a decadent art.”
Susan Sontag, 1996

“The cinema then as represented by Hollywood faces the turn of its first half-century in the lowest possible condition of creative energy. Let us be comforted that it can descend no farther. The artist has been so humiliated, hectored and bedevilled by Big Business that the poor degraded hack must be revitalised, nourished, cherished, respected and allowed to create again, for however much they may pretend to the contrary, the film cannot live without ideas from men with creative imagination.”
Richard Winnington, The Penguin Film Review, 1946