Thursday, 1 March 2012
After trying - and failing - to get into a screening when we were in Paris over Christmas, I finally saw Hugo the other day. As everyone seems to agree, it's a lovely film. Even the - thankfully fleeting - appearance of Jude Law did not manage to destroy the experience for me.
It was a delight.
I won't trouble you with a detailed review - just go and see it for yourself would be my advice. In a world of mammoth, empty blockbusters, it is wonderful to watch a film that has been clearly put together with so much love, care and attention. I can usually take or leave Martin Scorcese films (although at least this one doesn't have Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert De Niro in it....), but this is masterful.
We watched the film in 3D.
Here's the thing: this is by some distance the best use of 3D in a film that I have ever seen. But, to be honest, that's not really saying very much. There's none of your post-production, after-thought 3D here: every single shot was clearly put together with 3D in mind. It looks beautiful, with lots of layered, clever shots that are interesting without being too showy or taking away from the plot unfolding in front of you.
....but whilst it's clearly very accomplished, I reckon I could easily have lived without it.
Yes, so there are snowflakes falling out in front of the screen. Very good. But just as I can read a book and paint my own pictures of what I'm reading in my head, I am equally well able to use my imagination to add the depth to the 2D image being projected onto the screen in front of me. Just as no amount of CGI special affects alone cannot make a crappy film good, neither can 3D effects alone, no matter how good they might be, make a dull film interesting.
Fortunately, Hugo is not a dull film by any stretch of the imagination..... it's so good, in fact, that I'm not sure that the 3D is anything other than a gimmick. It's impressive alright, up to a point, but what does it really add to the whole experience?
Maybe it's just me, but I also find that as my brain is processing the 3D image being projected out at me, the rest of the images behind it seem to become a little blurred and hard to process. It's all a bit unsatisfactory. Not to mention the bloody glasses you have to wear.
It's ironic really, as much of the film is a homage to the early pioneers of film whose work seemed to be all about creativity and imagination. Whilst I'm sure that Georges Méliès would have been all over 3D if he'd been given the chance, so much of what he created - and indeed so much of what makes Hugo such a lovely film - is a triumph of the imagination. For me the 3D technology takes away more from me as a viewer than it adds. I understand that this film is probably a magnificent technical achievement by Scorcese and his crew, but in its own way, 3D is a technology that misses the point of what I want to see at the cinema every bit as much as all of those empty, bombastic CGI blockbusters.
Hugo is a beautiful story, beautifully told. That's all I need it to be and far more than most other films manage to achieve.
The 3D? For me it doesn't add much, if anything, to that.