Many bemoan Hollywood’s determination to cram 3D upon audiences’ eyeballs. I, for one, see the benefit of 3D, but only when utilized properly. Avatar was the first film to do so, and thus showcase the possibility of 3D. However, since Avatar’s release, ticket sales for 3D films have steadily declined, potentially spelling doom for the third dimension. Thus, the release of Gravity couldn’t have come at a better time- or for those who loath 3D, a worse time. Alfonso Cuarón’s film may be the best example of 3D yet, transforming an already suspenseful film into something so realistic and captivating that one can’t help feel that they are a part of the film.
This presents a conundrum however. Most viewers, as well a many critics, don’t consider 3D when critiquing a film. Theaters are partly to blame for this as they show both 2D and 3D versions of the film. As stated earlier, Hollywood also takes some of the blame- trying heavily to push 3D by post-converting any film they deem a potential blockbuster hit. Is 3D, therefore, to be seen as an added bonus; something that doesn’t make or break a film but rather adds a little lagniappe to what we experience. I believe most films fall in this category, but Gravity could change that. Alfonso Cuarón’s attention to detail is stunning, as well as his inventiveness with camera movement and placement. He began to show off these techniques in the equally fascinating Children of Men, which boasted two separate scenes of one continuous take- the battle towards the end being the most impressive. Cuarón takes this approach to a new level in Gravity, with the film beginning as a 17 minute unbroken shot. The film is peppered with many extremely long takes, allowing the viewer to pulled into the movie. But I believe that Cuarón also intends that the 3D be just as important to telling the story as the cinematography, music, writing, acting, and every other instrument that is so important to filmmaking. Just as visual effects have slowly become more integrated in film making, I believe 3D could be just as important.
It may be awhile before another film comes along that utilizes 3D well. In fact, the 3D fad may burn out before it ever happens. There have been films in the past that also highlight the benefit of 3D- Avatar, Hugo, and Life of Pi being good examples. Alfonso Cuarón had to wait many years before technology could catch up to the film he envisioned. Unfortunately he may have been too late, as 3D seems to be on it’s last leg. Or perhaps Gravity will show moviegoers that 3D isn’t necessarily a bad thing.