The man behind Reservoir Dogs told the Cannes Film Festival that the lush 35-millimetre cinema he grew up with was "dead".
Before a showing of his hit "Pulp Fiction" in the format tonight, Tarantino said: "The fact that most films now are not presented in 35mm means that the war is lost.
"Digital formats and distribution have swept the world of cinema, largely because of cost - most of the films in Cannes are now projected that way.
Aficionados still sing the praises of the old-school 35mm grainy film reels in the same way that music buffs hold on to their vinyl LPs over compact discs.
He added: "Digital projections, that's just television in public. And apparently the whole world is okay with television in public, but what I knew as cinema is dead.
"I'm hopeful that we're going through a woozy romantic period with the ease of digital and I'm hoping that while this generation is completely hopeless, that the next generation that will come out will demand the real thing," he added.
The director known for the energy and violence of his films said digital did have some advantages.
"The good side of digital is the fact that a young filmmaker can actually now just buy a cellphone and if they have the tenacity to actually put something together ... they can actually make a movie," he said.
Before the advent of digital, the barriers to getting a film made were so great, it was like a "Mount Everest that most of us couldn't climb". He said he had no idea why any established film-maker would shoot on digital.