Is on-demand the future of film releases
20 Nov 15
I recently watched a film on Netflix, one of their own original productions, called Beasts of No Nation. I decided to watch this film as I read an article on Tech Radar about ‘Why on-demand is the future of cinema’. The film received nothing but great reviews and I was curious to see for myself, bearing in mind it wasn’t given the big budget or spectacle of other films.
The heartrending movie is based in an imaginary West African country and tells the story of Agu, who’s country is torn apart by civil war. It is a tale of fear and degradation, the dysfunction and desperation of clinging on to something to believe in when all else is lost. Idris Elba is outstanding as the sinister warlord, who goes by the name Commandant, leading a rebel faction in the jungle. With soldiers varying from children through to young adults these soldiers are fiercely loyal to the Commandant and have been given guns and trained from a very young, impressionable age.
As the story progresses Agu becomes a monster of violence, surrendering both his childhood and his humanity. You can see a turning point for Agu when the Commandant hands him a machete and orders him to murder a civilian; at first he hesitates but after being provoked he murders the man in cold blood. To keep the soldiers fighting they are given heroin and ingest the substance by cutting wounds into the side of their head and rubbing it in.
The Commandant soon finds that military power is subject to political influence and decisions from people in the cities far from the badlands he has come to rule. Also his weapons and provisions all come from the political faction he is fighting for and to whom he is beholden. As months of fighting go by the Commandant and his men realise the idea of victory is disappearing, replaced by the possibility of being rendered up to a war crimes tribunal.
This hard-hitting brutal tale is all about Agu’s tragic story, emotional turmoil and the brutality of war; although Agu may have transformed into a tough-minded soldier, you also never forget that he is mostly a lost little boy hoping to find his mother.
With special effects and mega-budgeted films dominating the cinemas, films like Beasts of No Nation that are character-driven are becoming more appealing. If they were to become more readily available, from the comfort of your own home even, I think their popularity will keep increasing.
Netflix already has several films in post-production and nearing release with stars including Brad Pitt and Jake Gyllenhaal. With the level of talent behind and in front of the cameras on each of the films, it’s clear that on-demand is concentrating on producing quality entertainment that isn’t reliant on a big extravaganza.
As Stephen Lambrechts writes in his article ‘Movie-quality TV series such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad have changed people’s perceptions of the kinds of stories that work well on a smaller screen’ and with on-demand viewing a big part of peoples viewing habits these days it makes sense to have new films ready to watch straight from your TV.