Anyone who has ever been criticized for watching films by auteur directors on an iPhone has a new ally, thanks to Denis Villeneuve. The “Sicario” and “Blade Runner 2049” director revealed on a recent episode of the “Talking Deakins” podcast that he once left Roger Deakins horrified by having Terrence Malick films downloaded to his iPhone. While Villeneuve says the big screen experience is “the ultimate experience,” he also embraces the accessibility that comes with watching films on iPhones and/or computers.
“Roger made jokes about my iPhone,” Villeneuve said. “For people who don’t know. Roger was traumatized that I had ‘The Thin Red Line’ from Terrence Malick on my iPhone and Roger thought it was horrific. Me, I thought it was cool because I could take the movie with me. It’s not the same, but the thing is…I want to fight for the big screen, but a lot of my cinematic experiences have actually been on television.”
“I discovered ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ on television, and I later realized I discovered ‘Blade Runner’ on television,” the filmmaker continued. “I discovered a lot of movies that were massive influences [on me] on television, or, like most Ingmar Bergman films, I discovered on VHS. And still, through these movies, they had a massive impact. All that debate on the size of the screen…because I am a filmmaker and I just love films.”
Deakins said he agreed with Villeneuve, who he has worked with on films such as “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Blade Runner 2049.” As the cinematographer said, “I love the experience of being in a cinema with an audience but I think it feels more important that people see them. If in the future people are going to watch more movies on television, that’s fine. The films that I remember from my childhood are from watching them on TV and not the cinema experience.”
While Deakins understands where Villeneuve is coming from, the thought of watching a Terrence Malick epic on an iPhone still left him traumatized. Villeneuve went on to call debates about screen size a “delicate subject” and said at home he prefers to watch films on “the biggest screen possible.” The director noted how films like “Roma” are shot for the big screen and lose their immersive qualities when watched on smaller screens. Listen to Villeneuve full interview with Deakins here.