Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Hugo (3D) is based on the historical fiction novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick which tells the story of the pioneering French filmmaker and special-effects pioneer George Melies. He was one of the first filmmakers to experiment with stop action effects in which characters and objects seem to appear and disappear magically.
We spent the extra few bucks to see the 3D version and I suspect that Melies would have been pleased to see this innovative technique applied to tell his story. In some ways the film is Scorsese’s homage to Melies technical contributions to the art of filmmaking. Beyond the tasteful and appropriate use of 3D, the film is engaging and features fine acting performances from the young Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz as Hugo and his friend Isabelle, Ben Kingsley as Melies, and Sasha Baron Cohen in a very humorous (but uncharacteristically controlled) portrayal of the bumbling station inspector.
After sitting through 10 minutes of obnoxious and loud advertisements (why isn’t anyone complaining about the chutzpah on the part of the MegaPlex Movie industry to show ads after charging $16 a ticket to get in?), the requisite coming attractions appeared, but not before the announcement to please put on your 3D glasses. Not surprisingly, all the films that were being plugged were in 3D. It seems that Hollywood is rapidly embracing the technology and I suspect it will soon be adopted for all new releases just as Dolby Surround Sound quickly became standard practice.
But rather than just incorporate the technology on new releases, greedy Hollywood moguls are dusting off their supply of old films from the vault and giving them a 3D Earl Scheib paint job: Star Trek, Titanic, Beauty and the Beast.
Three dimensionalizing existing films that were originally produced in boring old 2D is as natural looking as colorizing old black and white films. Faced with the wrath of filmmakers and others of artistic integrity, Hollywood eventually stopped mucking with classic black and white films…one can only hope the same response awaits them for this ill-conceived money-making scheme.
Put on your 3D glasses to view my re-make of Georges Melies 1898 silent film, The Astronomer’s Dream (click on the lower right corner to enlarge to a full-screen view)….