Friday, 14 January 2011

3D Films

I love going to films on the day of their release. However, in this month of fresh resolutions, I've decided not to go and see any more films in their 3D format release, even if that means waiting a week to see a film I've been looking forward to. The final straw was Tron: Legacy. The film itself is pretty bad, it must be said, but the paraphernalia involved in watching a 3D screening made the experience entirely risible.

BBC film critic Mark Kermode has famously waged an increasingly sardonic campaign against the rendering of films in 3D (and it's pernicious sister-practice, 'retro-fitting' 3D, i.e. taking an already-released film and re-producing it for 3D viewing). There are plenty of aesthetic reason for disparaging the practice, although aesthetic considerations make a case against 3D arguable but not cut and dried.

However, I have two solid reasons why I don't want to see another film in 3D.

The first is entirely practical. 3D viewing requires that one wear a pair of specially polarised glasses. I already wear glasses. This means that I have to wear two pairs of glasses in the cinema. Quite apart form being silly, this means that one is constantly sliding off. It's impractical.

In addition to the impracticality/discomfort of wearing two pairs of glasses, the fine mesh-filter that is embedded in the lens of the 3D glasses means that the glasses act as shades. Given the ongoing vogue for modern films to be rather dark this makes for a deeply frustrating visual experience.

In addition to these two empirical detractions from the cult of 3D I do also have a considered aesthetic argument of my own. I've been thinking about the nature of cinema a bit recently, what makes it good, what makes it unique amongst arts. I realise that the basis of cinema is photography. Good films are made when someone tells a story through images. A good quality image is the basic, irreducible minimum for this. A director that doesn't understand the importance of the image cannot really be that interested in making a film, though he may have the best intentions for storytelling, or theatre.

3D is an impressive technology. However, whilst in its infancy, it's having to para-situate itself on the medium of cinema in order to find its place (which is looking increasingly like the burgeoning area of gaming). Rather than bringing images alive, this is obstructing the view. So I'll wait for the 2D releases, thanks.

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