Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

What 3-D is really for…

In my review of the amusing Final Destination 5 I neglected to mention that it actually makes rather good use of 3-D. There, I’ve said it. I’ve allowed myself to recommend at least one use of that unlovely process. Over …

Sat, Aug 27, 2011, 19:50

   
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In my review of the amusing Final Destination 5 I neglected to mention that it actually makes rather good use of 3-D. There, I’ve said it. I’ve allowed myself to recommend at least one use of that unlovely process. Over the years, I have found myself in the preposterous position of disagreeing with various geniuses about this menace to all that’s decent. On several occasions, when talking to the directors of Pixar pictures, I have listened to them explain why — rather than just throwing things at the audience — they have worked hard at making 3-D an “immersive” experience for the audience. That is to say as the film progresses you will cease to notice the 3-D and find yourself being dragged into the experience. Before long, the itching from the stupid glasses will be the only clue that you are watching a film presented in more than one dimension.

Well aware that I’m an idiot and they are among the great innovators in modern cinema, I pull myself up to my full height and explain that this is precisely the opposite of what 3-D should be about. It’s a cheap gimmick (not literally cheap, but you get my drift) that is only effective when used to enhance the propulsion of objects towards the audience. They got this in the 1950s. You didn’t catch Elia Kazan or Nicholas Ray dallying with the process. It was the preserve of exploitation merchants who savoured any technique that might make the audience jump from their seats. Yet, it’s hung around so long this time, otherwise sensible folk such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are now giving in and getting all “immersive”. Spare me. Now, Disney have decided to propel the perfectly acceptable The Lion King into three dimensions. As Alyssa Bereznak of Gizmodo so eloquently puts it., Why Does Disney Insist in Shitting All Over My Memories?

I know I’ve droned on about this before. But it’s worth pointing out that there is a place for 3-D in movies. When a teenager falls fatally on a yacht’s mast and that mast juts towards the camera then, by all means, drag out the wretched technique. Just such an event occurs in Final Destination 5. Splatter us with blood. Fling decapitated heads in our laps. But don’t try and call this fairground ride high art. Okay, it worked quite well for Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. But that had a very, very specific purpose: demonstrating the contours of an ancient artwork. Otherwise, it’s only good for making topnotch trash seem that bit more unsettling.

No more on this subject. No more. No more. Go away!

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