Tag Archives: 3d movies

Why 3D Isn’t Needed, Briefly

Days of Heaven Prod Still

Writing for The Guardian in the past week, Dave Eggers ran down the movies of his life and provides some information on how they fit into his make-up. It caught my attention partly owing to our recent autobiographical season on the podcast but also because of one small comment he makes which seems so beautifully to illustrate why I have such an aversion to 3D movie-making.

Talking about Days of Heaven, the elegiac and drop-jaw beautiful Terence Malick film, Eggers writes that Malick’s films ‘are 3D without being actually 3D, if that makes any sense’. That is such a great way of describing why 3D is completely pointless to the artistic process. Not everyone in the world can be Terence Malick, but great films do tend to have a sense of place and time, a texture to them in the way they are film, the juxtaposition of lighting, sound, performance and style. Putting a film into 3 dimensions seems pointless if you have the ability and understanding of how important it is to put films into their spatial context.

Just think about the great films you have seen and how they transport you to a place and time, then consider why on earth any of them would need to be shorn of that extra modicum of imagination.

Avatar News

Avatar Creature

Avatar, the 3D mega-project from James Cameron, was the subject of a profile in Time Magazine which, among a variety of other things about 3D cinema and its potential as the future of moviemaking, noting that Avatar’s budget has now soared beyond the $300m mark, likely making it the most expensive movie ever made.

Avatar has been a pet project of Cameron for a long time but I’m still a little wary of this potentially being the biggest flop in movie history.

I’m not fully convinced about 3D yet, especially given the inability of the majority of filmmakers who utilise the medium to eschew the use of gimmicks and tricks to show off the technology, rather than just making a great story. It’s a similar dichotomy to the one which exists in the relationship between Pixar and DreamWorks CGI animation. That did eventually turn around with Kung Fu Panda managing to tell a simple, non-pop-culture-referencing story from the DreamWorks studio which, while only matching the lesser works of Pixar, was still a hoot.

I have no doubt that films like Coraline will help to bring 3D into a more sophisticated balance with the basics of traditional storytelling, and perhaps Avatar will manage to do this to an even greater degree. But surely the infrastructure is not quite there yet to provide Avatar with the kind of space to make back $300m. Not enough 3D cinemas exist and, as I have been told from the past year, seeing 3D films outside of specialist exhibition houses can prove a migraine-inducing chore. It’s also, lest we forget, a science fiction film, and a wildly ambitious one at that. Cinema-goers may well be able to remember that this man brought them Titanic, but I’m not sure Cameron has the kind of commercial juice he’s going to need to make this one a giant hit and get the average cinema-goer to put down their prejudices and misgivings over certain genres.

I suppose that raises a question of whether it needs to be a hit. Avatar will, if nothing else, drive forward the development of new technology in the exhibition of movies and could well be among the most startling visual experiences viewers will ever have. But that doesn’t always mean box-office dollars and studios will rarely finance movies of similar ambition and ilk if the money didn’t role in the first time round. If Avatar fails, it could be a disaster for the filmmakers of the world who are seeking to further push the boundaries.

If not though, and from the descriptions given in the Time piece, this may well be among the most incredible filmic experience any of us ever undertake.