Seven thousand delegates, oblivious to their doom, wildly cheered the film grand prix Saturday, and who can blame them? With bird flu finally traveling from human to human in Indonesia and the volcanic forces of digital transformation gurgling below the Palais des Festivals, the TV-spot cultists were treated to a genuine masterpiece. In the midst of revolution, devolution reigned.
The spot begins with three guys in a pub, sipping on Guinness pints. To appreciate what happens next, though, you must first understand what these fellows had to do before sipping. Namely: wait.
If you want a lager, the barman opens the tap and the pint is filled in an instant. If you, however, say "Guinness," you may as well run out for a pack of smokes and maybe grab a quick bite. To get that creamy, dark nectar in your glass requires a long, slow draw. It's central to the Guinness experience, and the positioning the brand has used in the UK for ages.
So back to the spot: next thing you know, to the irresistably swinging version of "Rhythm of Life" by Sammy Davis Jr., the guys quickly back out of the bar -- because the film is going in reverse, wittily through the Ages of Man and all recorded time and into prehistory.
The Rhythm of Life is a powerful beat, puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet. Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street. Yes, The Rhythm of Life is a powerful beat. ...
In the end (or beginning) the three blokes have been devolved into slimy mudskippers in the ebb tide of primordial ooze. In the end, we're all dead, but they're just coming to life. Then the tagline: "Good things come to those who wait."
You can say that again. For days in this space -- and actually a couple of years -- we have been decrying the obliviousness and denial of an industry that can't seem to pry itself from the status quo. This remarkable piece of work helps explain why we all hang around for Cannes top winners. Who can resist treasures like this?
Music, special effects, narrative and other staples of the genre may be passive, but they are still as entertaining and potent as all getout. Putting aside the evolving exponential advantages of the digital revolution -- from user involvement to relationships to efficiency to meta data -- the experience of being hunched forward over a second or third screen will likely never match the lean-back impact of TV and cinema.
This won't be enough to save the form from its inevitable doom. When the lava consumes the TV industry, commercials will be swallowed up with it. Those lucky enough to get off the island in time will be able to work in a similar form online, but "similar" is not the same as "the same." The smaller screens for the most part will neither require, nor support, the scale demanded by the TV universe.
So, yeah, thousands of fools have stranded themselves here in Atlantis, and bad things come to those who wait. But until they're all encrusted in lava, the refreshment goes down awfully smooth.