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Mike Leigh Calls Tarantino’s Fight to Save Celluloid “Bollocks”

Mike Leigh Calls Tarantino's Fight to Save Celluloid "Bollocks"

Notoriously honest filmmaker Mike Leigh, whose J.M.W. Turner biopic is now in theaters and contending mainly for crafts Oscars, spoke candidly about dogged celluloid defender Quentin Tarantino in a recent interview with The Star.

Tarantino, currently at work on his beleaguered Western “Hateful Eight,” has publicly decried digital film as “the death of cinema,” and turning his newly commandeered New Beverly in Los Angeles into a bastion for 35mm films.

So what does unapologetically frank, Brit auteur Mike Leigh, who also recently aired grievances about filmmaking in The Hollywood Reporter’s Directors roundtable, have to say? “That’s bollocks.”

“It’s a ludicrous statement,” Leigh said of Tarantino’s outspoken remarks, “because apart from anything else, it’s a backward-looking statement that is irresponsible. I remember a time in the late ’70s when people said, ‘Cinema is over.’ There are young filmmakers doing all sorts of fantastic things and part of the reason that’s possible is the democratization of the medium because of a new technology, so (Tarantino’s fight) is twaddle.”

READ MORE: The Genius of Mike Leigh’s System: Leigh and Cast on Gorgeous “Mr. Turner”

At the American Film Market in November 2014, Tarantino promised buyers that “Hateful Eight” would be a “70mm event… I’m hoping it’s going to stop the momentum of the digital stuff, and that people will hopefully go, ‘Man, that is going to the movies, and that is worth saving, and we need to see more of that.”

From his cult classic “Naked” to success d’estime and Oscar nominee “Secrets & Lies” and more, Leigh has long advocated (and preferred to use) celluloid as his canvas. But, along with cinematographer Dick Pope, he chose to shoot the gloriously beautiful, celluloid-seeming “Mr. Turner” digitally. More on that, in our interview below.

READ MORE: How Cinematographer Dick Pope Shot “Mr. Turner”: Straight Up Digitally

Leigh, 71, is not the only director of late to query Tarantino’s radical manifesto. In our recent video interview with Martin Scorsese at the Toronto International Film Festival, we asked the director what he thought of Tarantino’s radical decision: “It’s just a last stand. However, I grew up with film. I love film, celluloid, and I shot ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ on film. The problem is that technology is going by, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use the old one if we keep the labs going for awhile. Because one of the most important things about celluloid is that it’s the best medium for preservation.”

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