As I sat watching Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams recently I couldn’t help but feel a little bit humbled. Not by the assault of philosophising on space and time that the directors narration gave, but by the intelligent and actually worthwhile use of 3D.
After recently writing a post on the merits of 2D and the pitfalls of 3D I was left feeling rather like I was eating my words. In truth it worked and it really did increase the experience of the movie. The director’s reasoning being that the 3D helped invoke the drama of the paintings and that the original artists had used these contours to increase the illustration. The experience created had a very immersive feel to it, even tangible.
Werner Herzog has come out repeatedly as a dyed in the wool critic of 3D, asserting that Avatar was “ok”. In recent interviews he has done much to cement that criticism despite his latest cinematic release. Herzog is definitely not the only critic of the third dimension either. Many high profile film-makers loathe this new tradition as do lots of new up and coming film critics…
That would be me! Despite this latest foray of 3D that I enjoyed I have to re-stress how annoying and debilitating it is to the overall experience. I understand why the film making community feel it is necessary. Downloads and pirating are sucking money out of the industry and the myth of studio infallibility has been proven to be false. Thus 3D has its mandate, to get people into the cinemas.
This would all be fine if it was limited to the extremely un-stimulating and uncreative world of children’s animation but sadly it’s not. 3D is becoming more and more pervasive, creeping its way into genres.
Cinema has thrived since its inception without the necessity for a pair of bulky dark glasses sitting awkwardly on your face. The glasses here really are the issue. I can’t be the only average audience member who isn’t immediately enticed by the thought of something just because there’s an overblown 3D next to the title.
Two glaring examples stand out; Avatar and Toy Story 3 suffer immensely in this darker perspective. Films that build up worlds of colour and beauty let themselves down in the cinema execution. But it’s not just the colour that falters. The glasses serve as a barrier between the action and drama appearing on screen and the audience trying to engage off it.
I don’t believe in 3D and I don’t believe I ever will. Herzog’s latest isn’t enough to prop up an entire form of art and in truth the director doesn’t want it to either. The darkness and disengagement caused by the glasses are just the laymen’s view of this new phenomenon. There has been in increasing amount of scientific research on the subject. Tentative evidence has led to suggestions that the 3D cameras and glasses overwork our eyes causing a less focused and, to be frank, less than 2D image.