In his article, “Perceptual Realism” Stephen Prince attempts to tackle the question of is there any risk to the realism of film as technology evolves? As technology becomes more and more capable, films begin to take on this realism that he mentions many times rivals that of real life and suddenly what’s being seen on screen is now perhaps more real than it should be. Prince believes that this creates real issues for film theorists.
The first topic that Prince discusses is the power of CGI and how it has changed the movie going experience. Film theory has long held the idea that anything seen on screen is something that could be seen in the real world, CGI has smashed through that idea.
This scene from Jurassic Park is a fitting example, this is not something that someone in 2020 would ever see, yet if you were to sit in a movie theater you would believe you are seeing a real dinosaur due to the power of CGI and how digital correspondence works in our brains.
The most impactful part of CGI may be that in 2020 we believe this is what a Dinosaur looked like, not because a scientist said so, or because we saw bones but because Steven Spielberg and his talented team are able to convince us of that through film. This is the issue that film theorists must wrestle with, no longer is film simply a viewing but it’s now something that changes us as viewers and what we believe.
How could it be that Forrest Gump was able to run for years like he does in this scene back and forth across America? Of course,no one would be capable of this nor would it be possible for an actor to do this so quickly, but the power of film suspends any need for belief because in six minutes we see him do it.
This suspending of reality is something that has been happening even more Paul Walker is an example of this. Paul Walker was an actor that starred in many of the Fast and Furious films and after his tragic death was brought back through his brother’s face and CGI to appear in one more film. This is now crossing the gap between a film and a truly emotional reaction, people who viewed all of the Fast and Furious films had built a relationship with the actors and Paul Walker’s tragic death caused them pain. His return postmortem caused an extraordinary reaction and truly did bring him back to life. This is a powerful moment in film as well as Paul Walker’s family is given the chance to see him alive on screen one more time. This emotional reaction is brought to life in the music video done by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.
The power of CGI is only growing as shown by the award-nominated film, The Irishman. In this film actors such as Robert De Niro plays a character at many different ages across decades. This suspends our idea of time and allows us to become fully involved in the story because we have seen Robert De Niro get older.
This is a short video that describes this process more in-depth and the kind of impact it may have on the film industry.
Finally, many parts of technology have changed our lives for the better or worse. CGI should enhance our entertainment experience as long as we recognize its power. Prince warns about its influence on us and as long as we are aware of that we can keep enjoying our dinosaurs and young Robert De Niro.