Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 7. April 29, 1953
Films By Ian Rich — Whither 3-D? — Its Artistic and Entertainment Merits
Films By Ian Rich
Its Artistic and Entertainment Merits
I Do not approach this subject very confidently. I have seen 3-D in action only once: on Monday night at the Tudor. I left the theatre puzzled and a little worried. Is this Hollywood's strongest answer to T.V.? Has this type of film any real advantage over the old familiar flattie?
I can hardly answer the first question. As for the second. I don't think I'm capable of answering that either. Mind you, I don't think the actual film helps me. "The Man in the Dark" has a poor plot, no characterisation and little acting talent. Hollywood has not been fair to itself in giving us such a film on which to form our first impressions of the new development in the cinema I am the man in the dark.
I shall pay another visit to 3-D. My mind is confused, but the following thoughts, aspects and questions suggest themselves.
• It in interceding to note that the inventor of stereoscopy. Semen Ivanov. had a passionate interest in art, but was disheartened by the flatness of painting. Has this flatness disappeared with the Tudor 3-D? Not altogether. There were times when certain psychological adjustments were necessary to convince me that I was really looking at a picture that really had depth.
• The illusion of reality is certainly greater. But as I have said so often before the film's job is not to depict reality but to interpret it. With 3-D will we get a deeper and stronger Interpretation? Yes and no. Mainly yes. There will be less opportunity for emphasis of characters or objects in single shots. The background will always have to be in clear focus: nothing will be allowed to stand out unless there is a deliberate change in the camera's movement or angle. On the other hand, symbolism of contrast or parallelism will have added effect now that foreground and back-ground are equally well defined. (It is obvious from their post work that the best directors will welcome this innovation.)
• As for pictorial effect, much will have to be sacrificed. There will be less play with shadows, contrasts of light and shade. There will. I fear, be less 'atmosphere, (I hope I am wrong.)
• The audience. I imagine, will be drawn closer to the action on the screen. (The Tudor screen is too small for A much greater Intimacy. I am dreaming of the days of the larger screens used in the steoreo-scopic method of 20th Century-Fox.) Objects will come out to meet us: and the audience will break through the screen! Once producers stop trying to impress the 9d seats, the present crude effects at the Tudor will become something much greater than mere stunts Dramatic values will be intensified. I am looking forward to new excitement and thrills.
• Eisenstein has said that montage is conflict in scales, graphic directions, volume and masses. 3-D will now give the highbrows conflicts of depth.
What about the realms of film fantasy? How will Powell and Press-barger like 3-D? If they decide to film straight ballet, with less vulgar colours than in "Tales of Hoffman." they will achieve effects of beauty that will be new to the cinema. On the other hand, trick photography will have to go (the pitfalls are obvoius) and artificial settings will have to be loss artificial than before. Nevertheless, in the whole realm of cinematic fantasy there are great stereoscopic possibilities.
• As for 3-D acting, the empty beauty queens will have to go. Makeup will demand added skill There will also have to be on even greater contrast between stage and screen acting. Everything, almost everything, will depend on the "inner" performer. Gestures and expressions must be toned down: the 3-D camera is too penetrating, too observant. Edith Evans in a future film version of "The Importance of Being Earnest" would be a complete failure. Miles Malleson wouldn't have a dog's show.
• Just because 3-D looks more like real people on a stage, on no account must producers start a wholesale adaptation of stage plays. The film has always been a visual art, and with 3-D it is even more so. As for filming Shakespeare: "Words, words, words."
• What about pure entertainment? Comedy? 3-D Will add to a heavy slap on the face, will give extra measures to a custard pie, extra fatness to a Lou Costello. The seekers of entertainment (not only comedy) will find more amusement.
It seems that 3-D has come out on top. I must think and write at the same time. I was at first hesitant about its qualities, but I have convinced myself that there is something worth while in the stereoscopic cinema. I may be wrong. "The Man in the Dark" gives only a hint of its possibilities. But of this I am convinced: 3-D will demand great adjustment on the part of both audience and producer. And for commercial success those spectacles and high admission prices must go.