Analogue vs Digital: The Argument of the ‘Real’.


Sergei Eisenstein

Written by: Nuraine Ebrahim

Technology has transformed cinema to such an extent that a computer generated image seems life like. The analogue way of capturing narratives is restricted to what’s in front of the camera. The digital route enables visual effects artists to create worlds that don’t exist and adapt actors into characters with unusual abilities.

The film critic David Rodowick prefers realism in films. He argues that digital takes away from actuality. The issue is here is what he defines as realism? In deducing his readings in The Visual Life of Film, Rodowick likes films that contain only what the camera has captured. It must have no manipulation, the seamless editing should match mundane life and like André Bazin, Rodowick prefers long takes because it amplifies human existence. An example to reflect Rodowick’s favoured style is in the film Bicycle Thieves (1948) by Vittorio De Sica. There is a scene that presents a time-image, whereby time is made visible. In a long take, the protagonist and his son purely watch the rain and wait for it to settle. Rodowick explains the long take provides for greater emotional engagement as we see an untouched reality and “the digital arts are without substance” (Rodowick, p.7).


Bicycle Thieves (1925): Bruno and his father wait for the rain to stop.

Rodowick’s theory has errors. The medium of film can be manipulated because the mis-en-scene is directed to obtain a certain psychological response from the spectators. The film can be cut in any way, specifically into a montage like in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925). A digital camera can also capture long takes, this is seen in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s movies. Rodowick expressed his anxieties on the transformation of filmmaking and he fears the style of the ‘real’ fades. The narratives are still expressed like they were before. The difference of cinema from then till now is how the narrative is captured with digital technology.



Rodowick, D (2007). The Visual Life of Film. London: Harvard University Press. p.7.


Bicycle Thieves. Italy: Vittorio De Sica, 1948. film.

Battleship Potemkin. Soviet Union, 1925. film.


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