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3D or 3 Don't ?

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Mark Kermode | 16:50 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

To my horror it was recently announced that Baz Luhrmann would be filming Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby in 3D. In the week that sees Werner Herzog's first foray into the stereoscopic illusion I ask are there some stories that should never ever get the 3D treatment?

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think 3D could work well in experimental films, but when you have a narrative, 3D is just distracting, this is why it is only necessary in films where narrative is not a big feature, hence Herzogs porno dictum. Besides, after about 15 minutes the novelty wears off and everything just looks duller and fuzzier.

  • Comment number 2.

    Are some genres suited to 3D and some genres not? Good question.

    The answer that first sprang to my mind (as yours) were kid friendly animations (How to Train Your Dragon, Rio etc) that could also work fine in 2D. After all slapstick and action are slapstick and action. (Rango demonstrates that in 2D.)
    I also do want to see Herzog’s documentary in 3D.

    But then I also thought of Lean’s Oliver Twist, with it’s wonderful sets that have a real sense of depth, that conjured up the Victorian east end; would that be more even more effective in 3D, my answer is possibly ‘yes’.

    As for Gatsby, I’m not a great fan of either the book or film. Gastby hasn’t enough ‘bite’ or anger in it. Remake it by all means but I doubt it’ll have much impact. (It could be studio Oscar bait though.)

    I am surprised there aren’t many films that are exploring the current recession, the greed of the banking industry etc.
    A film that stood up for the little guy against big money (e.g. Trading Places of the 80s) for our times could be a likely box office hit.

    We need a Great Gatsby of and for our own era.

  • Comment number 3.

    3-D is more expensive and offers nothing spectacular anymore - We all saw Avatar, and now 3-D is just boring. It makes more sense to pay cheaper prices to see a film in 2-D.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any that are completely wrong for 3D? How about a holocaust drama? I couldn't think of anything more inappropriate than sitting watching a film based in Auschwitz whilst wearing a pair of stupid glasses.

  • Comment number 5.

    3D is, as the Good Doctor has noted, ideal for trashy horror flicks and porn (isn't the very idea of a gimmick like 3D inherently pornographic?), but it's wrong for action. For a start, fast cutting and frenetic camerawork are an even bigger headache in 3D than 2 dimensions (see all but the last of Avatar's action scenes, though Avatar's use of 3D was generally good). As for dramas, crime thrillers and romcoms I really can't see the point, but one film I saw recently that I actually thoguht would work extemely well and potentionally even more so in 3D was Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void. Psychadelic melodramas like this are few and far between admittedly, but perhaps when 3D technology becomes cheaper and more readily available to more experimental, artistically inclined filmmakers, we may start to tap it's possibilities.

  • Comment number 6.

    mark. . .

    [puts hand on shoulder]

    Let it go.

  • Comment number 7.

    I ask are there some stories that should never ever get the 3D treatment?

    ALL OF THEM!!!!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    You don't need 3D to get immersed in a story all you is a gripping, powerful and engaging storyline. I fail to see the point of it. The most frustrating thing about 3D is paying extra for nothing.

  • Comment number 9.

    You don't need 3D to get immersed in a story all you need is a gripping, powerful and engaging storyline. I fail to see the point of it. The most frustrating thing about 3D is paying extra for nothing.

    Sorry about posting agian.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nature documentaries, plain and simple. Particularly the ones released in IMAX. Because there’s no fictional story or kinetic action sequences to keep up with, the 3D doesn’t distract you from the film, it makes the documentary more immersive.

  • Comment number 11.

    Children's animation work in 3D? I give you Toy Story 3 - wonderful film, of which ther can almost no argument, but utterly pointless in 3D. It didn't annoy me but after a while I remembered it was in 3D and thought "What's the point?" before allowing the film (not the 3D) to entrance me again. 3D does not improve a film; it can at best be non-existant and at worse irritating to the extreme.

    As such, of all the stories that do not 'dimensionalizing', 'Gatsby' would be the last story I'd consider. Apart from the 'beautiful shirts' scene as the good doctor suggested on the show, there is almost nothing that 3D can do to enhance the story, arguably the only thing that it can't get it's hands on. In the end, it can't be used on live action films, where the story and characters, rather than special effects, are crucial. As for animation, well that will always be most susceptible to corruption - doesn't make it right.

    Oh and as for Avatar revolutionizing the use of 3D, I didn't see it in 3D and even if I did, it would still only be a painting of a film that you have to sit and stare at for over 2 hours - an experience that 3D would make even more torturous.

  • Comment number 12.

    Traditional 2D animation refitted into 3D. Imagine PONYO, with it's enormous overlapping waves, literally overlapping each other like a grand, enormous puppet show. That would be a treat.

  • Comment number 13.

    Genres: Drama. There is no reason to shoot a drama in 3D and it would only serve as a negative distraction. For that matter, any film that is trying to deliver 'serious' subject matter. It is just a gimmick, after all. 3D doesn't bring anything to the table that adds to the impact of the storytelling. In saying that, I don't think there are any hard set rules to art, so maybe someone could come up with something at some point to prove to be an exception, but I haven't seen it yet.

    Individual films: The Exorcist. Not that I would not like to see projectile vomit coming right at me, but it WOULD be retrofitted and that might cause Mark to have a coronary. I like listening to the reviews too much.

  • Comment number 14.

    Are there any genres that are inherently suited to 3D..?

    No, absolutely NOT!!

    I hate wearing the glasses, I hate the lack of colour, I hate the pointless 'let's put this shot in because it will look good in 3D' bits even in 2D, I hate pretty much everything about it. Oh, especially when I want to watch something in a 2D version and the local cinema only shows the 2D version at midnight on a Wednesday, and then claims that no one wants to see the 2D version because ticket sales are so low...

    Sorry - rant over.

  • Comment number 15.

    As much as studio executives and directors love to talk about the immersive aspect of 3D I've found the opposite. So any film that works using a subtle building of tension would fail for me in 3D since I'd immediately snap back to reality. Thrillers and horrors that work with suspense and tension strike me as genres where 3D just isn't appropriate.

    Also dramas like the King's Speech. Just unnecessary isn't it?

  • Comment number 16.

    Dr K,

    I simply can't discuss 3D anymore it just upsets me way too much...........;-)

  • Comment number 17.

    3D should to be about movement through space so at first thought, it seems to me that Dance would be a good subject for a 3D film. Dancers moving through space seems a natural. I did see Step-Up 3D, so I'm likely to be wrong about this; but for now I'm still waiting for a good 3D Dance movie. (I heard Wim Wenders is working on a dance documentary in 3D.)

  • Comment number 18.

    If we all promise to agree with you and say that 3D is a massive con, will you promise to do a blog about something else?

  • Comment number 19.

    Let’s hope the 3D version of Caligula will be more interesting than the torturously boring 2D one. I doubt it though.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think you hit on something there Mark when you listed a few fun and entertaining films that would lend themselves to 3D perhaps more than others. The idea that the more daft (but great) horror films like Brain Dead and Evil Dead would (not benefit) but work well in a 3D form because of the gooey projected out of things in the film, and I think that's the difference. In recent 3D films I have seen the director's make complete random things stick out, like people's hands and buildings. But the scene towards the end of The Evil Dead when ashes gf's eyes are exploding, I think that would be fantastic in 3D! It's made to splatter slime and blood towards the camera so surely making it 3D would just take that to a higher level, not making random things like people's arms stick out in 3D but actual effects and funny little tweaks that do fit with the film and the idea itself. I also think that something with a bit more of a fairy-tale edge to it, perhaps Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow' would also look great in 3D? Perhaps 3D is pretty well equipped to create that kind of feel and atmosphere, I'm thinking the strange creepy wood scenes? I'm not sure anyway, it's just like CGI for me, sometimes it helps, sometimes it detracts. Still early days.

    Thanks Mark.

  • Comment number 21.

    A 3D movie is just a whole other animal than a 2D film. It's just a case of apples and oranges. Maybe 3D could spawn its own genres. New ones that can only exist in 3D form.

    But, I'm sure a drama could be made in 3D. But I can't really see how it would benefit from 3D... It could give new meaning to a "close up shot" but other than that... Now, a science fiction film like Star wars could benefit in that you could have action sequences where the lasers fly around your ears! Which can be exciting. But it's somewhat like a theme park ride which is what I've stated earlier in the comment section of this blog, namely that those are the sort of things that 3D lends itself for more than it lends itself for drama.

    If you go to see theatre does the story make more of impact if e.g. the actors walk off the stage into the audience or pieces of the sets are in the isles? I'd prefer it if they kept it all up on the stage, personally.

  • Comment number 22.

    Isles should obviously have been aisles in my comment there. My first language isn't English... haha

  • Comment number 23.

    Also, "more of impact" should have been "more of an impact". But that was a typo. lol

  • Comment number 24.

    I think 3D could be used to add a heightened sense of drama when a film features its location as a character of sorts. I'm thinking of the LA cityscapes of Michael Mann films such as Heat or Collateral, or Woody Allen's take on London. Or, if there's ever a remake of The Fountainhead, I imagine 3D could be used to good effect to showcase some extraordinary fictional architecture. But, overall, I just can't see how 3D is at all necessary ...

  • Comment number 25.

    Mark Kermode, I refer thee to a statement made on March 30th 2007 where, when discussing Meet the Robinsons, a 3D movie, you stated the following:

    "The 3D is really good... now with 'digi-mation' which is designed specifically from the computer outwards for 3D, they get a really good 3D effect, so thumbs up for the 3D, can't fault that... the 3D's great."

    Then on February 6th 2009, when you were reviewing the Disney animation Bolt, you are on record as saying this:

    "If you are going to see Bolt, do see it in 3D, make the effort... It is designed to be seen as a 3D movie."

    From thine own mouth are you condemned. Prosecution rests. But yes as I think you've said for exploitation and children's films: yes. For everything else, no. Gatsby is not confirmed for 3D it is being workshopped in it and is doing tests for it. However the qualm as to whether or not Gatsby should be in 3D is irrelevant because you can always see it in 2D. Stop complaining.

  • Comment number 26.

    As for film genres which could possibly enhanced by 3D, the ones that come to my mind are those that are basically visual feasts and documentaries with few words, like Baraka, the Qatsi trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi as well as Hertzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams and those wonderful IMAX movies for which the genre is so well suited.

    Other than that, if you are watching a movie with a narrative basis, 2D is the only way to view it. To watch these movies in any other format detracts from them and distracts the viewer.

    If you want to view something in superb detail, watch it in blu-ray.

  • Comment number 27.

    I just watched Cave of Forgotten Dreams and as usual I found that after the initial 10 minutes my brain neutralised the effect and I was just left with a strong urge to take the glasses off. I also noticed that when the depth of field is short there can often be things in the foreground totally out of focus which is just quite irritating and not representative of how we actually see the world and therefore not a step towards realism.

  • Comment number 28.

    At one point in Fitzgerald's great American novel, narrator Nick Carraway makes the statement that New York is a "vast, vulgar, meretricious beauty." The line defines the fabricated life of Jay Gatz himself, but for a Kermodian audience, I think it furnishes the key to thinking about 3-D as it pertains to The Great Gatbsy. 3-D could be just the medium needed to animate the haughty majesty of the East Egg community and the sprawling decadence of West Egg. 3-D makes things epic and vast, oftentimes when they shouldn't be, but this is precisely what Gatsby is about, artificial monumentality. Imagine a scene of Gatsby's silk shirts popping out at you as he hurls them into the air; could such an image finally reveal the desperation, the aggression, the drama of that moment? Despite the vertigo it induces in its present format, 3-D does have its place in cinema, but with one proviso: the story needs to have scale, not intimacy. The Great Gatsby uses one man as a vehicle to discuss a nation, an era; it is not a story that demands an intimate portrayal (though that was deftly done in the Robert Redford version). 3-D, used judiciously, of course, could give this timeless classic the depth it needs to resonate in our time.

  • Comment number 29.

    I hate paying more for '3D' films. I have to wear glasses over glasses and they aren't really in '3D'. They are just an illusion (at best) of 3D, if I want actual 3D I will go to the theatre.

    I think that people also forget those with sight problems, I know two people who are blind in one eye. They cannot watch '3D' or make the glasses convert back to real film.

    I'm with Dara O'Briain (I think it was him) who said 3D is like tuberculosis, comes round every 30 yrs until we develop more immunity.

  • Comment number 30.

    What about science fiction? Surely some visionary out there is chomping at the bit to make a spectacular sci fi in 3d that would do the medium justice, and have the same cultural impact as The Matrix?

  • Comment number 31.

    I also agree that 3-D shouldn't be used for everything, and believe that 3-D would best be suited to black and white films where colour loss wouldn't come into the mix. I believe an ideal genre would be 'Film Noir' and would help accent the contrast of dark and light,

  • Comment number 32.

    Because 3d generally looks awful and tends to be a distraction when watching a film, I think it's really suited to Jennifer Aniston comedies.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Mark, sorry if my earlier comment was misconstrued. I've been thinking a lot about the future of cinema, including 3D and piracy, and I think that the biggest problem is the lack of direct correlation between box office and film quality. To that end I've just written a blog with what I would do to solve the crisis, see what you think:

  • Comment number 34.

    Dr K.
    You have a problem with 3D? In the words of Simon Mayo "you must tell us more". I would rather watch Andy Kaufman's reading of the Great Gatsby than see it in 3D.

    As for Mr Scorsese i thought his first employment of 3D was in Cape Fear. When Robert De Nero walks at the screen after getting out of prison i genuinely flinched.

    Wouldn’t 2D animation be a terrible 3D experience?

  • Comment number 35.

    Presumably Nicole Kidman will play the green light at the end of the dock. Wasn't ruining Shakespeare enough for Luhrman?

  • Comment number 36.

    @1967Ross Jennifer Aniston comedies are a crime against humanity, 3D is just a punch in the face.

    Not that I should comment I've never seen one and never will.

  • Comment number 37.

    3D is ideal for animation and perfect for summer blockbusters, as vast swathes of bovine leave their brain at home – and sweep majestically (and rowdily) into the multiplexes. However, the type of person who goes to see work by Jim Jarmusch, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni and similar ilk – go for edification beyond the mere visceral. In short, story, plot and character development are as immersive as it can ever get – for certain people. 3D immersion seems to be for those films where you can turn right and left with the script in advance.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have just been to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D with a live Q&A from the Ritzy in Brixton at my local World of Cine. I very much enjoyed the movie and have to admit that both Herzog & Mark are right in this case. Whilst it is a shame that the brightness is dulled (as Mark mentioned) the 3D does enhance the shots of the cave walls with their undulating forms. Having seen the 3D tonight and then just watching the clips in 2D in Mark's film above I would say that the 3D images are better. They convey how the ancient artists made use of the rising and falling of the cave walls. However it is not needed throughout the whole of the movie it does become a bit redundant in the interview scenes.

    Herzog was extremely witty, intelligent and charming in the Q&A following the movie and strangely no one brought up the 3D element in their questions, I guess it was just accepted.

    Mark you're right about the Great Gatsby being completely the wrong type of movie for 3D, it would be like sticking it on The King's Speech, just what excatly is the point? Herzog is right too, it has its place and its limitations. It worked fine to convey the beauty of the Cave of Forgotten Dreams but it has no place in conventional drama.

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh forgot to mention that I laughed at the Bad Lieutenant reference at the end of Cave of Forgotten Dreams! Herzog is so cheeky :D

  • Comment number 40.

    First of all I would like to say just because Buz Luhrman makes a stereoscopic film and Scorsese has suddenly decided doesnt mean that 3d is a new revolution in cinema - even Hitchcock did Dial M for Murder in 3d. great directors have made use of this tool but it doesnt mean its an essential asset to the medium yet - like color and sound have become.

    3d or the stereoscopic image can have a certain effect and add meaning to select sequences. in avatar for example, cameron managed to use the 3d to make us feel that much closer to this alien world. it showed us the world from a perspective that wasnt very unreal to us anymore, it seemed as natural as our own reality.

    however using 3d as a gimmick in order to shoot things at the screen or like in werner herzog's documentary to simply record more information (in 3dimensions) is a simple technique which does not need to be applied to the film as a whole.

    stereoscopy will further improve in its technological nuances, like it has since its first discovery in the late 1800s. i have been able to test glasses-less 3d televisions and even a laptop which uses a webcam to trace your eyes and play the image back to your POV without glasses (all from toshiba). all these developments herald the natural evolution of this technique and i m sure at some point we will see some great uses of it in cinema and other media.

  • Comment number 41.

    What genre is least suited to 3D? Well the genre-less one of course - a straight drama! That's where the film is purposefully trying to strip back a narrative to its bare essentials without relying on gags and gimmicks and set pieces.

    The Great Gatsby, Wall Street, Remains of the Day, The Social Network, The King's Speech - these straight dramas do NOT need visual enhancements beyond the regular art of cinematography. As boring as Social Network's premise sounds on the page, the critical consensus was "Boy, does that film look and feel great." Look at the opening of King's Speech with those intense, solid, extreme close ups of the ominous microphone - do we really need that popping out the screen like a stupid cardboard cutout to get the idea?

    The old methods for providing the immersive experience and depth of field still work best. Please industry - drop this dead donkey NOW.

  • Comment number 42.

    I confess I have been thinking this for a while. Action, digi-mation and exploitation genre may use 3D in a way that is harmless or even enhancing. But films with proper narrative, plot and character would be detracted if 3D were to be included. The nature of 3D is good for surfaces but for content, subtext and story it is wholly unappropriate.

  • Comment number 43.

    3D has no real value for me but the films where it doesnt bother me are gimmiky throw away entertainment like Jackass or later day sequels in dying horror franchises. I dont see the need for it in any serious film or in most any film with a story as it is distracting and ugly.

  • Comment number 44.

    Years ago I saw 'Spacehunter: adventures in the Forbidden Zone' - a 3D sci-fi film starring Peter Strauss. It was enjoyable, but having since seen the film in 2D, I can't say that the 3D version was anything but a gimmick. Same with Avatar.

    One film I'd love to see in 3D would be Nuridsany and Perennou's 'Microcosmos' or perhaps Reggio's 'Koyaanisqatsi', and therein a potential use for the technology - documentaries. Imagine a film version of 'Blue Planet' in 3D...

    NB: I saw 'Spacehunter' because the other screen at the cinema was full - otherwise it would have been 'Jaws 3D'..."The horror! The horror!"

  • Comment number 45.

    The trouble with 3D is that you automatically assume the film is going to be rubbish when you see 3D in the title. For example:

    Piranha... in 3D
    Resident Evil... in 3D
    Clash of the Titans... in 3D
    A Christmas Carol... in 3D
    The last Airbender... in 3D

    Ok, the last film sounds rubbish even if it wasn't 3D. The trouble is, adding 3D to a film's title makes you automatically think its more about special effects than the story. The was summed up in Avatar, the movie that was supposed to be a game changer. Instead it was a film that was very pretty to look at but not much else.

    The only exceptions seem to be kid's animations where adding 3D is so easy they would be silly not to. Maybe if people start releasing GOOD films in 3D then peoples' perceptions might change.

  • Comment number 46.

    I saw Cave of Forgotten dreams last night and I tihnk Herzog is right (maybe will need to compare it to a 2d version) and it worked well for the scenery pictures such as in the cave and is a wonderful film.

    Howver the outside shots and interviews again bring up the problem it doesnt look right, it looks like a pop up book. this is always more jarring (gets worse if there are people/things at different distances) and is a fundamental flaw of 3d

  • Comment number 47.

    It does feel that we need to get the good Dr. K to a 3-D anger management course. What we, and the industry keep seeming to forget is that almost all movies are already in 3D. Films are a photographic representation of a 3 dimensional world, all the supposed tech of stereoscopic 3D movies does is give us two slightly different images per eye, which only subverts our eyes natural tendency to focus on objects according to proximity (hence the headaches etc). So there is little value to be had intrinsically.

    The gimmick of depth illusions that may be on offer can suit spectacle, or seemingly inherently suit animations cooked up in a mathematically defined 3 dimensional space in a computer. Necessary, no.

    Baz likes spectacle, so this may mesh with his over the top Moulin Rougery, but I think if he goes that direction with Gatsby, the film will likely miss the point, that the opulence is shallow. One of the problems with F Scott Fitzgerald's works is his fascination with wealth. He famously told Hemingway "The rich are different from us..." to which Ernest replied "Yes, they have more money." You could paraphrase that for 3D : "3D films are different..." -- "Yes, they have a superfluous extra image of the same thing from a slightly different angle." OK, granted, that doesn't scan nearly as well...

  • Comment number 48.

    Genres that do or do not suited to 3D?

    Well anything period simply cannot suit 3D. The idea of the 'futuristic' 3D goggles (yes I know it's been used for years but that dooesn't stop me thinking it has something of the Back to the Future about it), and a period piece just scream paradox to me. The idea of it, walking into a cinema screening room and seeing 400 people watching Wuthering Heights with this ungodly contraption on their heads....just not right is it.

    Having said that, conversly, the idea of 3D SHOULD suit sci-fi. Perhaps the psychology of seeing a futuristic film via a futuristic media is part of the success of Avatar? It certainly wasn't the dialogue.......

  • Comment number 49.

    What would suit 3D... perhaps an instructional film for trainee eye surgeons?

    What would be the best film to show audiences who think 3D is a good idea for entertainment... perhaps an instructional film for trainee eye surgeons?

  • Comment number 50.

    Traditional Blockbusters are about the only films that suit 3-D, any film where things can come flying out at you from the screen and you don't mind them being a bit fuzzy as long as they're fast.
    But let's face it how long can it be until george Lucas strokes his fuzzy beard and thinks 'Light sabres in 3-D now that's an idea........'

  • Comment number 51.

    I think 3D can be used for psychedelic or dreams sequences in films. I think it would be interesting to see how the trippy scenes in Ken Russell's Altered States would look in 3D.

  • Comment number 52.

    To me 3D belongs in kids films like How To Train Your Dragon and Coraline (which are both very fine films with or without the 3D), or dumb gimmicky horror films like My Bloody Valentine. You put it on anything else and that just kind of drags it down to that level.

    I really hate the fact that they're making The Hobbit in 3D, it just cheapens it because they feel they have to resort to 3D to generate more interest in the films.

  • Comment number 53.

    "sasquatch-statham wrote:

    3D is, as the Good Doctor has noted, ideal for trashy horror flicks and porn (isn't the very idea of a gimmick like 3D inherently pornographic?)"

    So many jokes... so little time.

  • Comment number 54.

    An appropriate 3D film. Suggestion for you here: how about you make a documentary abought your mission to get 3D banned in one cinema or getting a cinema to not use 3D for a week/month. Shooting this in 3D will be ironic and you can also highlight the problems of 3D - the distraction, the bluriness, the pointlessness, the lack of clarity etc. You could include interviews with different directors and the public. I think it could be a viable, interesting, and fun project for you. (am available as consultant!)

  • Comment number 55.

    All I know is; All the while I was sitting there watching Tron Legacy (which I may add I enjoyed), I was constantly thinking "Ohh, that'll look good on Blu-Ray, Ohh, that'll look good on Blu-Ray". I'm not interested in 3D, it don't work, it makes the film a less enjoyable experience. Visiting the cinema used to be the best place to watch a movie, not anymore, thanks 3D. :(

  • Comment number 56.

    Saw Cave in 3D last night and while there were lots of problems with it the 3D took my breath away. From the opening moments it made me smile, gasp, and delight. I don't know if long lost cave art counts as a genre but it was justification for the invention of 3D in its own right.

    Admitedly the only other 3D film I've seen is Avatar which gave me a headache, made me feel a bit sick, and then bored me to tears.

  • Comment number 57.

    "are there some stories that should never ever get the 3D treatment? "

    Yes, all of them, until such times as technology allows us to view entertainment in 3D without silly glasses on. (ie proper holograms)

  • Comment number 58.

    Documentaries would work and something like Blue Planet or Life in 3D would be fantastic.
    Sam Raimi doing an Evil Dead 2 style rollercoaster horror in 3D would be groovy.

    A 3D Serbian Film? That would be hilarious.

  • Comment number 59.

    Yeah, I've got one, 'The Inside Job -3D'.

    An Oscar winning documentary in which, upon donning the specs, we could all immerse ourselves in the scandalous, arrogant and criminal behaviour of the financial community in order to truly feel that high octane rush of dropping everyone else in the s**t, whilst simultaneously managing to feather our own nests, ducking any moral, ethical responsibility along the way.

    And don't forget, in the end, we'll all have the added relief of being able to take of those glasses and leave the theatre confident in the knowledge that at least we can look at ourselves in the mirror every morning and and not feel dirty, ashamed and like we need to find a large rock to crawl under, 'cos thats how they all feel right? ...right?

  • Comment number 60.

    Here's a thought, maybe this question has been answered, over the centuries, in a different format, i.e., the novel. If illustrations work, then 3D probably works, if illustrations don't work, then 3D probably doesn't work. Illustrations work in children's books, comic books, graphic novels, some fantasy (Robinson Crusoe), some horror (Frankenstein: although they weren't in the original), some drama (Don Quixote) etc., however when illustrations detract from a novel, then 3D would probably detract from any analogous film.

  • Comment number 61.

    To paraphrase the late, great Bruce Lee; "...the ideal is unnatural naturalness or natural unnaturalness."

    Perhaps the mundanity of, say, a romantic comedy would be benefitted by stereoscopic shooting process.

    Juxtapose that with a simplistic approach to the visualizing the fantastical; are not the characters, worlds and scenarios depicted in the sci-fi genre, for example, engrossing-enough in themselves? They certainly were in Avatar, which probably employed the novelistic (3D's not yet the be-all-and-end-all) stereoscopic style to recoup its titanic (pardon the pun) budget.

    Neo-3D, as I like to call it - let's not forget the crudity of projected 3D - is still a work in-progress. Let's all bide our time with our judgments...

  • Comment number 62.

    I agree. Having seen a few movies in 3D I'm struggling to see how 3D enhances my enjoyment of the movie. Even more frustrating and pointless when I watch the same movie at home in 2D and its no more worse for wear.

    As far as I can tell, 3D and modern special effects are an expensive distraction from a dire plot, characterisation and script.

  • Comment number 63.

    I wonder if people had this debate when colour or sound first started to be used??

  • Comment number 64.

    Always a bad move.

  • Comment number 65.

    I've seen a few 3D flicks over the last few years - either at the IMAX or the NFT (get me!), and it's always been good, bad or largely indifferent.

    The good has to be Avatar at the IMAX - love or hate the film, the 3D was truly excellent, and just as you were having a nagging feeling that everything on screen was reminding you of Princess Mononoke, you'd see something stunning. It also helped that it was largely gimmick-free: there weren't repetitious shots of stuff coming out of the screen at you (not that I remember anyway), so it just added depth.

    The bad - Up at an NFT preview. The "revolutionary 3D technology" quite simply didn't work for anybody on either side of the theatre, and rather than marvelling at the film, a good percentage of the audience sat there grumpily watching a fuzzy version. No refund for that one after making a complaint either.

    As for the indifferent, I was scratching my head to remember which films I'd actually seen in 3D - I remember seeing quite a few, but would be hard pressed to name them. And for some that I do remember as being in 3D - Beowulf for example - my only memory of the 3D itself are a few schlocky effects that looked obviously added simply because it was in 3D, and the edges of the screen being a bit too fuzzy.

    my 3D DVDs (not that I have many, and I've never bought one because of the 3D, it's usually a bonus feature, etc) are pretty poor on the whole - the 3D print of Coraline is just a mess, no 3D that you'd notice and everything in a strange colour.

    So, I'm not sure that there can be any hard or fast rules - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and largely it makes very little difference. If we ignore it then it'll probably go away.

  • Comment number 66.

    "I wonder if people had this debate when colour or sound first started to be used??"

    Probably. There's a difference even between those two, though -- once the technology was right, sound took well under a decade to take over from silents, whilst black-and-white co-existed with colour as a mainstream choice for decades. So even if 3D is the future, which will its progress be more like?

    I'd say that while sound and colour clearly bring us closer to naturalism, the exaggerated 3D in current films is actually further from reality than 2D is. Dialled down to realistic levels, it'd seem a bit pointless.

  • Comment number 67.

    Sapphire77 wrote: "Maybe 3D could spawn its own genres. New ones that can only exist in 3D form."

    Never mind about this. haha I worded my thoughts wrongly here. I accidentally clicked on "Post comment" while I wasn't 100% sure about everything I wrote.

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree 100% with Dr K's opinion on 3D so I can't ad anything he hasn't said already.
    However I do have to ask, is there not another subject that's worth discussing? Or is the lack of interesting film topics the reason we have another blog about 3D? Is this just one that gets trotted out now when there's nothing left to talk about and blog space needs to be filled? Is there anything really left to be said?

  • Comment number 69.

    Perhaps something filmed from one character's POV would work well in 3D. This could be something a stereoscopic view is naturally suited to; seeing literally through the character's two eyes, with their depth perception. Also, the conceit of us (the audience) accepting both a character's visual and cognitive perspectives seems quite appealing to me.

    But on a more general level, I find it difficult to accept that this iteration of 3D is any less of a fad than the 3D of previous times. Still just too much effort and hassle to work in the long-term. My eyes get strained, the glasses are uncomfortable, and it is more expensive. When the kids get bored of it (and one of the summer blockbusters tanks) 3D will pass.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think any film that places most of its emphasis on the visual experience would only benefit from 3D. Films that concentrate on the actor's performance, the dialogue, and the interaction between actors would suffer if shown in 3D, at least in the short term, while 3D is treated as a novelty. I couldn't imagine the experience of watching Glengarry Glenross improving because Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin were suddenly three dimensional. But in the long term, if the technology allows for a passive 3D experience, and 3D becomes the default means of showing film and television, just as sound and colour did, there might well be a time when we don't think twice about whether a film is in 3D, and in fact think nostalgically back to the days when they were shown in 2D.

  • Comment number 71.


    I don't think we can generalise too much as to which genres can be considered "ripe" for 3D, as there is as much visual variation within those genres as there are films. For me it's very much a case of horses for courses, and I suspect it's more likely that, as is the situation now, the future will see a group of directors who are committed to the medium settling into roles as "the 3D guys".

    Having said that, I can imagine many nature documentaries benefiting from careful use of 3D.

  • Comment number 72.

    It's also just occurred to me this very moment that I would have given my right arm to see Noe's Enter the Void in 3D.

  • Comment number 73.

    Although I do feel that current 3D is not ready for use in films and is just used for effect. I do have the feeling that people were saying the same about the change over from silent to talkies or from black and white to colour. I sure the first talkie films had sound effects and songs that were not central to the plot. I feel once the technology is developed enough and film makers are no longer excited by the new medium it will be as acceptable as colour and speech.

  • Comment number 74.

    I saw "It came from Outer Space" 1953/54 ? I was about 9 or 10..That put me off....Never been since...
    PS Mark ..Can you do something to equalise the sound ?. I turn it up to hear you at times then get blasted by the exit music...

  • Comment number 75.

    havent read these comments yet but I would say the examples in the video of good/bad uses of 3d are pretty much it (IE horror movies/action/cartoons/porno) but apart from the fact I think Baz Luhrmann is totally tasteless and a bad film maker, I do think it would be interesting as an EXPERIMENT to film a "quality drama" in 3d to see if it would work because as far as I know this has never been done before and could (probably will) be a disaster or possibly could breathe new life into dramatic films and make more people want to see them. so I suspect Baz Luhrmann's idea for doing a film like this in 3d is probably some ego thing about wanting to be groundbreaking and seeing as I dont like baz luhrmann's films in general I would be interested to see a 3d version of the great gatsby even tho i havent read the book either.

  • Comment number 76.

    (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt)....oh...a new post....3D?...Again?...Back to bed it is...(zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)...

  • Comment number 77.

    I think dramas should never ever be considered to be shot in 3D - that is probably the worst thing to do when making movies.

    The worst example of 3D was Avatar - James Cameron really oversold the movie being 3D. The story line wasn't great and then effects for me having seen it twice were ok at best but the thing that really annoys me about the movie is the fact that Mr.Cameron wrote one of the worst screenplays I've ever seen with the corny dialogue.

    I'm all for a 3D movie but the problem I see for myself is that film makers concentrate on the visual aspects of the 3D movie so much they totally forget to realise that they don't have a great screenplay or story. I've watched I think at least 10 3D movies since Avatar, the one movie which I thought was not only brilliant in 3D but also had a solid script and brilliant acting - that movie was......

    How To Train Your Dragon 3D - the only movie which took advantage on how 3D should be shown and it made all the sweeter with a brilliant script

    Film makers should realise that shooting 3D movies doesn't mean you should avoid having a great story and script!

  • Comment number 78.

    Keep up the anti-3D campaign Mark.

    3D is rubbish. The glasses make the picture darker and the frames themselves are distracting. The whole 3D experience is VERY VERY IRRITATING and what's worse is they have the audacity to charge more for an inferior product.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think that Citizen Kane should get the post-production 3-D treatment. Imagine how good Greg Toland's deep focus would look!


  • Comment number 80.

    I was joking about Citizen Kane!

  • Comment number 81.

    A genre? No. Not even trashy action or horror

    A different type of entrainment altogether? Yes

    The issue for me is that 3D technology intends to immerse you in the story by having things fly out of the screen in your general direction, the problem being that the audience member remains a passive observer; whether or not the stuff 'hits' you has absolutely no effect on the narrative.

    This is why I think that the natural home for 3D technology is in fact computer games, because there you are controlling the action yourself, therefore the stuff flying out of the screen does have a direct effect on the outcome of the story.

    So, to keep everybody happy, stop using 3d in my films please and use it more in my computer games.

  • Comment number 82.

    I have said this before and I will say it again...3D doesn't work in films.

    But it does have potential in gaming as that medium allows you to interact with the enviorment unlike film.
    In the future there will be a mixture of tech using Kinect and 3D giving you the real next big thing to consumers.
    The shooters for example now just use a joypad and you only interact with that world with the joypad.
    In the future you can have a shooter with all the explosions coming at you and you can duck out of the way for exampple. Or if a grenade is thrown at you then you could see it infront of you, pick it up and throw it back at the bad guy.
    That is potential in all fairness but leave my films alone as it clearly doesn't work Hollywood!!!!!!

  • Comment number 83.

    I don't think The Great Gatsby would work in 3D; but I don't think it works in 2D, either.

    Although I greatly admire the novel for its langauge, it's not a cinematic story. The only thing that might work in 3D is the Optician's billboard, especially as all the audience will be wearing glasses (I am sure the accident will make use of the 3D effect too but it can only last a few seconds).

  • Comment number 84.

    I forgot about the green light. Perhaps the way 3D distorts the colour could be used to enhance that symbolism.

  • Comment number 85.

    Never mind that 3 D nollocks. I'm more concerned with Baz Lurhmann filming one of the greatest pieces of 20th century literature in english. What next, Michael Bay for Tender is the Night?

  • Comment number 86.

    i'd like to see a good car chase movie done in 3d. just as long as its not made by Paul Greengrass

  • Comment number 87.

    3d doesnt deal with the fact that there are people out there who actually wear glasses all the time. not for fun, but because they need them. to see. for, let's say, watching movies...? well i'm one of those oldschool weirdos and i hate 3d from the bottom of my heart. i hate the 3d glasses on top of my normal glasses, i hate the blurring image, and i hate that most of the time i think the two pairs of glasses neutralize the effect - meaning i dont get the 3d effect at all but cant see the screen properly either. so, regardless of the story, down with 3d, once and for all.
    Dr K, dont make me disappointed in you now. i was so happy that you were a member of the rare species that is obsessed about movies and doesnt get excited about 3d. please keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 88.

    3D for cartoon, action, Sci fi or horror films - yeah, great. Everything else, IMO, would suck.

  • Comment number 89.

    I bet that `The Goldrush Rush` without colour sound or 3d is better than every film made next year,i bet `Scindlers list`in black and white is better than every film made next year.
    You could remake Pearlharbour in glorious 3d,the bombs would fall around you ,the japs would fly over your head, and at the end you`d go YEP STILL CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    Very general rule: movies about spectacle = 3D; films about story = 2D.

  • Comment number 91.

    Personally, I think a lot of drama is most effective on radio.

  • Comment number 92.

    I have to agree and there are some films for which it seems that 3D was created for. Consider the latest Tron: Legacy where the process really brought the digital world to life then the disaster that was Clash of the Titans but The Great Gatsby? Next they'll be remaking The Ten Commandments with uber SFX and 3D! God forbid!

  • Comment number 93.

    Unfortunately 3D is still seen as a gimmick. One day we won't have to wear glasses and 3D will become the norm. We listen to music in stereo, we should be watching movies in stereo.

    It's all about losing yourself in the story you're watching, and any subtle way of enhancing that will be utilised by filmmakers, whether it's a dark room, a bigger screen, 5.1 surround sound or 3D images.

    In 20 years time, the kids of today will be watching everything in 3D. They'll look at 2D like we look at black & white.

  • Comment number 94.


    Playing devils advocate a it here, but maybe our objection to 3D is rooted in our prejudices about what makes a good film, and our understanding of (Classic Holllywood) film language. Elements that make a 'good' film aren't advantaged by 3D.

    Example: The best 3D film I've come across is Avatar, because EVERY aspect of that film was engineered around an enjoyable 3D 'experiance'. As a 'film'-meh, but as spectacle- bloody brilliant. Such a pretty film.
    The worst 3D films are those where 3D was an afterthought reterofitted deal-usually in an attempt to beef up an inferior product (Clash of the Titans, anyone?). Poor film and poor 3D.

    Sewart's got a point- by the time the tech is perfected, we'll have new film language that works with 3D, and it won't be thought of as unnecessary or extraneous- film will just 'be' that way.

  • Comment number 95.

    In all seriousness...

    I would never normally reference how I make a living (Post is a surprisingly small world) but I feel I should own up, given the topic. I do have vested interests in what happens to moving images and where and how those images are consumed.

    Now, I'm all for the evolution of the medium but, yes, as someone working in this field for over a decade, I can assure anyone who might care to listen, that I have no concerns about us all living in a '3D-ified' future, well, at least not as it is currently being sold to us.

    I'd confidently predict some spectacular advances over the coming years with regards to how we are going to be viewing the moving image. It won't be 3D as we are currently know it. No sir.

    How these future technologies might be adopted for feature film production -well, that's a complex issue and one that depends on hugh number of practical and economic variables, so, who can really say for sure?

    Much of this developing technology is more likely to be will become more prevalent in the advertising/marketing industries -think key international sporting events/venues, corporate hospitality, product launches etc- before any of us mere mortals find it cropping up in our living rooms. But, make no mistake, 3D as it is at present...well, that really is just the the beginning. Kind of like the Atari to a future PS3 or Xbox.

    A consistent, quality passive 3D experience without glasses is seen as the current Holy Grail over the next couple of years but, I'm not even talking about that... that's great for gaming, computer screens, Broadcast TV and Cinema Exhibition, but as someone in the Lucasverse once said ..."No. There is another."

  • Comment number 96.

    I think 3D works in schlocky horror films fine but that's about it

  • Comment number 97.

    I did like the 3D part of which ever Potter film it was which has the 20 minute scene.

  • Comment number 98.

    It seems ironic and a little sickening that a gimmicky medium that mainly functions to direct the misinformed into spending more money, would be used needlessly on a story that criticises the consumerism and materialistic nature of America in the 1920s.

  • Comment number 99.

    Maybe 3D has its future in horrors, or at least those that rely on startling the audience. I imagine it'd be much more frightening to the audience if the 'evil' character or creature was to suddenly arrive on screen and appear to move closer to them.

    I think the future of 3D will rely on whatever films it is successful in during the next 3 or 4 years, with digital animation an obvious contender. If directors see a particular genre of film does well in 3D, then perhaps they too will continue to make said-genre films in 3D as the bar has already been set.

  • Comment number 100.

    Sasso Palmieri wrote
    "Very general rule: movies about spectacle = 3D; films about story = 2D"

    Haha very true it's a shame most people will buy into the new thing simply for being new.
    3D is the Emperor's New Clothes with a headache and poor contrast to me.


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