Fincher Vs. Jackson

Sounds like an unfair match, pitching Fincher's Social Network against the Hobbit's Unexpected Journey? Well, not if you are out to examine the subtleties of artistic use of digital technology.

WhatCulture brings you this opinion-piece on Fincher's visionary genius — their words, for once; not mine — and Jackson's digital ignorance. Won't spoil the read for you, as it certainly is an interesting take. Nonetheless, personally I feel there's a lot interpreted into these examples. I do indeed subscribe to the notion that Fincher is a genius ... but for different reasons.

Thanks, Andrew, for this great find:

... and: this great bonus find:


  1. "Instead of pretending that a digital camera is a substitution for a film camera, he accepts it as a unique tool and adapts his movies to fit it. He is truly the innovator of the new style."

    100% true. Great article, thanks for posting.

    1. As for the Hobbit, I enjoyed the movie, but I also have mixed feelings about 48HFR. The first 45 minutes was horrible, I hated the look of the movie. When the action started it got a little better. And the final action scenes looked very impressive. I think there is a huge potential in this technology, but this article is right, 48HFR was a bad choice for this particular film. I think Cameron will shows us what 48HFR (or 60HFR) is all about in Avatar 2 :) Or maybe Fincher will figure out the way of how to use it properly ;)

  2. Glad you guys enjoyed the article. I thought it was an excellent piece.

    The sound editing bit is a laugh too.

    - Andrew

  3. My main points of disagreement with the WhatCulture author's assessment are these:

    Much of the criticism he levels at Mr. Jackson's "Hobbit" is that of a misguided interpretation of the book, trying to make it feel like "Lord of the Rings", which is (not having read the books) apparently distinctly different in tone.

    This aspect of his criticism is just that, then: Mr. Jackson's mistake in tone; not his inability to appropriately use modern technology.

    As for the use of 48fps, I perceive the argument to be largely a matter of after-the-fact reasoning, personal taste and interpretation.

    Personally, I withhold any judgement of Peter Jackson's film as I belong to the minority crowd who absolutely isn't into fantasy movies at all — and therefore wasn't a fan of the whole LOTR franchise to begin with.

    24fps definitely is "the film look" to me, and in my aesthetic book 48fps creates to much smoothness in motion and will always yield an inherently "video" look.

    But to argue immersion vs. escapism as an aspect of this technological choice? Nope.

    I do not buy this to be straightforward reasoning. Much rather, I believe, it is a question of the cinematic narrative being able to carry the attention and fascination of the viewer:

    I do not believe that the audience gets immersed due to the technicalities of presentation — but instead by narrative; the very reason 'Avatar 3D' worked superbly well while no amount of 3D will ever make 'Transformers 3' an inch better. (For me, personally, I shall add.)

    I believe there is a lot of rightful criticism to be held against Jackson's "The Hobbit", some of it included in the WhatCulture piece — and nonetheless beside the point the article is trying to make.

    Is it a poor decision to cash in on LOTR popularity and inflate "The Hobbit" beyond any enjoyable proportion? Indeed! But again, this has nothing at all to do with Peter Jackson's savvy of technology.

    1. As I have stated before, I do agree Fincher is a genius, and he deserves many praises.

      Nonetheless, again I see a flawed argument presented in the article: I do not see consistent evidence that would suggest that Fincher has in any way adapted or altered his narrative sensitivity or his aesthetics to digital cinematography.

      Instead, I do believe the argument is significantly rooted in nostalgia — much like the audiophile will always claim vinyl records sound sooo much better.

      But does Fincher's work of the last decade allow for the observation that he has 'adapted to survive'?

      Let's see...

      Fincher directed the $63 million FIGHT CLUB in 1999 and the admitted popcorn-flick PANIC ROOM in 2002, for around $45 million. In a two-movie deal he secured the chance to make a very personal ZODIAC (roughly $40 million), and his most warm-hearted effort yet, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON — for a whopping $150 million bucks.

      If I see any pattern of consistency it is that Fincher has enjoyed to work mostly in a medium budget range and has opted to direct "one for himself and one for them"; a film and a movie, on and off.

      What are the last cinematic examples? THE SOCIAL NETWORK, definitively a medium budget film, received with much critical acclaim — and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO; a movie; an adaptation of a best-selling novel, which was a pop-culture phenomenon well in advance of Fincher's involvement.

      But even aesthetically the reasoning doesn't hold water:

      PANIC ROOM was a cool and stylish movie, a story that would have perfectly lend itself to the 'inherent qualities' of digital cinematography — yet ended up being shot on film, as it was deemed technologically 'to soon' for going all digital. While BENJAMIN BUTTON was a very warm and sweeping, an epic and colorful movie — mostly shot digitally.

      SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB are films that feel gritty and dark, yet 1997's THE GAME was another excellent and much-too-early example of a cool, slick, elegant and stylish movie that could easily be interpreted to make for the ideal 'digital flick'.

      Digital technology, I believe, is something that innately suits Fincher's strengths and preferences:

      In being able to see and replay instantly whether a shot was in focus, how the camera moved, to have even more detailed control over staging and set dressing as it pertains to lighting and framing, and especially in elaborating actors' performances over a number of takes without having to reload etc.

      So, has Fincher 'adapted to survive'? I cannot agree.

      I believe it is Fincher's distinct blend of budgetary awareness and discipline, his favour for films that rarely are 100 million dollar blockbusters — and his well-rounded artistic and directorial excellence that allow for him to survive.

      And well...

      Fincher is, after all, a damn genius.

  4. Instead of saying he "adapted to survive" I would rather say he evolved quicker then others ;)

    He is one of the very few directors that truly understands all the benefits (and shortcomings) of shooting digital. No only that, he is pushing this technology to it's limits. In every aspect, not only digital cinematography. For example: Editing - 2 Oscars in a row ;)

    "Nonetheless, again I see a flawed argument presented in the article: I do not see consistent evidence that would suggest that Fincher has in any way adapted or altered his narrative sensitivity or his aesthetics to digital cinematography."

    Yeah, you are right he didn't suddenly change his style. He assimilated the "digital look" into his style. But I also see how The Social Network, GWTDT and House of Cards benefit from this "digital look" more then, let's say, Ben Button. It fits them absolutely perfectly :)

    Others are survivng, Fincher is thriving ;)

  5. Hobbit sucked bad!! But that had less to do with Peter Jackson's familiarity with tech than with fucking greed. Come on, that first hour was a complete waste of anybody's time and the attempts at humor were just laughable-not in the good way. And just for forcing it into three movies? WTF!!! It's to purpose of an adaptation to "adapt" the story to another medium, with that mediums limitations and conventions, definitely not to shoot every damn line. But no matter how bad the hobbit was, Jackson is still a fucking genius when it comes of vfx, just check out some of forced perspective work they did on Lord of the Rings- it will blow your mind. It's on youtube.

  6. You guys all intellectualize this too much. Fincher is just a dude, who makes awesome movies. I don't think he goes, "now I need me a script that will work when I shoot with the Red." Like, whatever!

    1. It's the other way around: "now I need me a RED that will work with this script or music video"


    2. hahaha damn funniest comment i've read in a while