Roger Ebert not long ago twittered his opinion that 3-D was,
ultimately, "a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to
use as an excuse for higher prices."
After seeing "A Christmas Carol,"
"Alice in Wonderland," and "Clash of
the Titans" (I'm
not including "Avatar" because
it turns out that the press screen I attended had faulty projection; on the
other hand I am not eager to see it again properly), I'd have to agree. But I
might change my mind when two world famous auteurs have their way with the
So might Ebert, too, since one of them is his pal and idol Werner
Herzog, who states in a video interview on Ebert's blog that his next picture, a documentary (which for Herzog can mean
almost anything) on the 30,000-year-old cave paintings in the Chauvet caves in
the Ardèche region of France, will be in the 3-D format.
This would justify using the 3-D process for a couple of
reasons. First, any genre or mode taken up by Herzog invariably becomes a
fascinating transformation thereof (as was the case with the film noir genre in
"Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"). And second, the notion of
confronting a prehistoric art form with a cutting edge 21st century cinema
technology is brilliantly apropos. As David Itzikoff writes in the "New York
Times" "Arts Beat," "Can there be a 3-D
movie about a work of art that predates the discovery of perspective? If anyone
can make such a film, surely Werner Herzog
Herzog's project underscores a basic objection to the use of
3-D in movies to date: not the technology itself, but that it's employed gratuitously as a gimmick for cheap effect
without regard to integrating it as part of the film as a whole. Or, as, Martin
Scorsese puts it, "[I'm]very excited by 3D...But if the camera move is going to be a 3D effect, it has
to be for dramatic purposes - not just throwing spears at the audience."
Scorsese, as it turns out, is the other big-time director
planning to use 3-D, and his choice of a property, as reported in Slash Film, is also significant. He'll
use it in his long planned adaptation of Brian Selznick's children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret,"
which is the story of an
orphan boy living in a train station in turn-of-the-century Paris who meets up with a mysterious
toymaker who is very much like French
film pioneer Georges Méliès.
In form the book itself is perhaps the latest
development in that old dinosaur medium, print literature: it is a book about
the beginnings of cinema that looks cinematic. So it seems rather ingenious to
take that conflation of old and new media one step further, as does Scorsese, and adapt the book using 3-D, the latest development in
Well, it took me a while to get used to sound and color. Maybe 3-D will grow on me as well.