Martin Scorsese argues cinema devalued by rise of 'content'

Martin Scorsese has published an essay slamming the film industry for being profit-motivated and driven by algorithms, at the cost of the art of cinema.

Martin Scorsese has taken the film industry to task, proclaiming that cinema has become devalued as it is replaced by algorithmic content.

In an essay published by Harper's Magazine penned to celebrate Italian director Federico Fellini, Scorsese lamented that media companies are reducing filmmaking "to its lowest common denominator, 'content'".

“If further viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?” the Irishman director asked.

The nine-time Academy Award nominee posited that, as opposed to curated streaming services such as MUBI and the Criterion Channel, "algorithms, by definition, are based on calculations that treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else".

Drawing a distinction between the "movie business" and cinema as an art form, Scorsese then praised the work of Fellini and other great directors of the sixties such as Jean-Luc and Bernardo Bertolucci, who were "reinventing cinema with each new camera movement and each new cut".

He wrapped up the think-piece by observing: "in the movie business, which is now the mass visual entertainment business ... value is always determined by the amount of money to be made from any given property", calling on "those of us who know the cinema and its history have to share our love and our knowledge with as many people as possible".

The essay is not the first time Scorsese has denounced changes to the film business - in 2019 he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling the current industry "inhospitable to art" and comparing Marvel movies to theme parks.

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