A 3-D Conversion

December 30, 2011

Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret and Chloe Moretz as Isabelle.

I came down hard on 3-D in a previous column. I wrote about how this unnecessary gimmick gave me headaches and made me motion sick. I confessed that I always forgot to return the glasses, that I would find them in my coat pocket weeks later.

I still forget to return the glasses, but on everything else, I was wrong. Two films I’ve seen recently — “Hugo,” out now, and “Pina,” out in January — have convinced me that not only is 3-D a viable cinematic technique, but that for some films it is absolutely necessary.

“Hugo,” above, is, in part, the story of film technology. Director Martin Scorsese uses 3-D to show what technology can do for films now — so when a train comes roaring into a station, you have to fight the urge to duck, just like it’s said the earliest filmgoers did. “Pina,” a Wim Wenders documentary about a modern dance choreographer, uses crystal-clear 3-D not only to enhance the viewer’s experience by making the dances more immediate, but to give even simple shots — like a nearly still dancer’s face — extra beauty. Not only do both films benefit from 3-D, neither film could exist without it.

That doesn’t mean every film needs it, and going back and adding 3-D to 2-D films (which is going to happen a LOT in 2012) is pointless at best. But as we move into a new year, “Hugo” and “Pina” suggest we’re moving into a new world.

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Kristen Page-Kirby | December 30, 2011