Whatup with 3d cinema?
In 2009 James Cameron’s Avatar blinded us all with its dazzling special effects, astronomical budget and wonderful use of 3D technology, fooling many members of the public into believing that it wasn’t, in fact, a completely unoriginal copy of Pocahontas set in the future and painted blue, with a predictable plot, terrible acting and cringe-worthy dialogue. Yet, two years on, cinemas are still filled with bins to dispose of your 3D specs. But how has the 3D fad progressed and will it be sticking around much longer?
James Cameron sure thinks so, recently declaring; “In two years everything will be produced in 3D and 2D versions will be extracted from that.” Although this claim seems somewhat ridiculous, recent releases suggest filmmakers are taking the 3D phenomenon seriously as, alongside the bloated blockbusters, respected European auteurs are exploiting the technology for their latest releases. Werner Herzog’s recent documentary, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about 30,000 year old cave paintings found in Southern France was shot in 3D as Herzog believed shooting in conventional 2D would not do the paintings justice. Also, fellow German filmmaker Wim Wenders is about to release the first 3D art-house film, Pina, about ‘Tanztheater’, a form of contemporary dance. Wenders first came up with the idea for the project way back in the 80s but it wasn’t until now that he believed technology had advanced enough to adequately bring his vision to the screen.
Similarly, culture vultures have been targeted with the recent run of stage productions screened in 3D worldwide. For a limited time last month, the NPH cinema showcased The Royal Opera House’s Carmen in 3D, which received a good turnout from pensioners and students alike. Screening something like this in local cinemas certainly makes it far more accessible (to see it at The Royal Opera House would set you back up to £219.50) and encourages those who have never experienced opera to embrace something new. But the 3D aspects did little but distract and seemed somewhat gimmicky. We don’t need bits of confetti to appear as if we could reach out and grab them to draw us into the world of cinema – filmmakers have been honing their techniques for years to do this without forcing us to recoil in horror as something appears to come pelting towards us. The camera’s privileged position, as it swooped up from next to the conductor in the orchestra pit to the middle of the stage, would have been enough to take us “into the heart of the production on a magic carpet ride” without the subtitles floating in mid-air in front of us. Although the production itself was fabulous and the brilliantly directed camera work gave us the best seats in the house, the 3D aspect simply caused eye strain and frustration (especially for those unfortunate souls among us forced to wear their 3D glasses on top of their real glasses).
Recent reports suggest the craze won’t last much longer as filmgoers refuse to continue paying the increased costs for 3D – for a family of four to go and see Gnomeo and Juliet 3D in Leicester Square last month cost a ridiculous £50. But the fat cats in Hollywood deny the dramatic drop in 3D attendance and continue to back more 3D productions than ever before, suggesting this somewhat irritating fad will not be fizzling out anytime soon.