The introduction of sound films in the late 1920's was a divisive issue among those involved and interested in the emerging motion picture industry. Even though it wasn't the sudden breakthrough it is often perceived to be, the addition of sound and voice to mainstream cinema revolutionized movie making and led to conflicting viewpoints as to whether or not this innovation was a positive progression for film as an art and as an industry.
While the addition of sound to films was generally perceived as an advancement, some critics and filmmakers believed that it takes away from the artistic essence of the medium. Among these traditionalists was Rudolph Arnheim, an art critic who thought the technological advances such as sound and color made film less artistic. He felt that film must make use of what is unique to the medium. Arnheim and other movie lovers of the era saw the coming of sound and color films as a negative step for the industry. He thought it would lead to the end of the silent era and to a pursuit of technical perfection in movies that place emphasis on "inartistic demand for the greatest possible realism" (Arnheim , 183)
In an excerpt from Film As Art titled The Complete Film, Arnheim expresses his views on the future of film. He uses the term "complete film" to describe what he will become the perfected film format that is hardly artistic expression but a mere presentation of reality. The main argument presented in this article is that the uniqueness and limitations of film as a medium are what makes it artistic, and technical innovation will take this away and replace it with films that are less artistic but better able to portray reality.
While Arnheim's views on the future of film and the idea of a complete film can be somewhat insightful, I disagree with his conclusion that the introduction of sound and color diminishes the creative quality and originality of...