3-D: An Attraction, A Fad, But Not A Movie
We know what movies are. We’ve been watching them for years. 3-D movies have also been around for quite a while (longer than you may think), but lately I’ve been wondering, can 3-D movies really be lumped together in the same category as the movies we’ve gotten so used to over the years?
There are several reasons why I am tempted to say no.
You go into a 3-D movie for the experience, for the thrill, for the spectacle. Plenty of 2-D movies are pretty focused on spectacle as well, but 3-D movies are specifically characterized by it. 3-D is an effect that occupies the mind and the body in space, which leaves less room for introspective thought regarding story, style, or characters. Try to think of a 3-D movie that could ever be nominated for an academy award. It’s not easy, and the examples you do find (Pixar’s Up, James Cameron’s Avatar, Henry Selick’s Coraline) are recent (Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder was shut out of the Oscars in 1954), at least partially animated, and most importantly, they work just as well in 2-D format. The difference between 2-D and 3-D viewing is only one thing: the feeling that you are having an experience rather than a viewing.
My familiarity with 3-D comes from one source: attractions at theme parks. Disneyland’s Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Universal’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day are 3-D shows mixed with some live elements, like a spray of mist landing on you, your chair moving, etc. This is sometimes called 4-D. Maybe the fact that I’ve only ever known 3-D through these displays makes me biased, but I’ve always felt that while 3-D may be exciting, I tend to feel overstimulated being bombarded by so many images. These experiences are nothing like the simple act of watching a movie.
And now, animated movies feel like they have to cater to the 3-D market so they can make an extra buck. Recently, I saw Despicable Me in 2-D. Overall it was cute, but there were a couple of scenes, one on a roller coaster, one during the end credits, that had no narrative purpose; they were only there to amaze and dizzy the 3-D viewers. The Last Airbender was shot in 2-D and retrofitted for 3-D with virtually no change to its content because they were so desperate to make the extra few bucks off of 3-D ticket sales. Not since Dial M For Murder has anyone even attempted to use 3-D as a stylistic device, to make the separation of space actually meaningful, rather than an arbitrary ‘cool’ effect. What is the point of abusing this technology? Its recent popularity is causing it to take over and upset our ideals of traditional movie viewing.
This is why I propose that 2-D and 3-D movies become separate. No movie should exist in both formats. The Last Airbender should have only been in 2-D, as it was intended, and Despicable Me should have only been in 3-D, so that those seemingly purposeless scenes would have a point. I know my proposal won’t be taken up anytime soon, as long as someone is still getting rich off of selling their movie in both formats, but if you know what I mean and you think movies are more than just an attraction, do like I do and boycott 3-D movies.
1. a sequence of consecutive pictures of objects photographed in motion by a specially designed camera (motion-picture camera) and thrown on a screen by a projector (motion-picture projector) in such rapid succession as to give the illusion of natural movement.
2. a play, event, or the like, presented in this form.
3. motion pictures, the art, technique, or business of producing motion pictures.
Also called movie, moving picture.
"movie." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 14 Jul. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/movie>.
a. A sequence of photographs projected onto a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity.
b. A connected cinematic narrative represented in this form.
2. A showing of a movie. Often used in the plural: During the movie, the person in front of me kept talking. Would you like to go to the movies tonight?
3. movies The movie industry.
[Shortening and alteration of moving picture .]
"movie." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 14 Jul. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/movie>.