Martin Scorsese Sure is Guzzling the 3-D Kool-Aid

Martin Scorsese: 'Silence' lawsuit

Martin Scorsese has long proven his mastery of filmmaking, passion for storytelling and an infectious worship of the medium in which he's produced nearly five decades of singular, sometimes legendary work. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that man of such fervency and skill would take so well to one of the rapidly developing hallmarks of contemporary cinema culture: Trolling.

Scorsese joined fellow Oscar-winner Ang Lee on a panel Wednesday at CinemaCon, where the filmmakers told the industry crowd how sincerely they believed in the 3-D renaissance. I mean, sure, Hugo turned out OK (critically, anyway; commercially, oof), and Lee's forthcoming 3-D epic The Life of Pi has plenty worth anticipating with or without the stereoscopic extras. But this... I mean, I just can't:

Martin Scorsese has become so enamored with 3-D filmmaking that he expects to use the technology in all his future projects.

The Academy Award-winning director of The Departed told a crowd of theater owners at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas on Wednesday that he wishes his landmark films Raging Bull and Taxi Driver had been three-dimensional. Scorsese is so convinced of the power of 3-D, he said he only saw Hugo, his first 3-D movie released to critical acclaim last year, once in 2-D.

"There is something that 3-D gives to the picture that takes you into another land and you stay there and it's a good place to be," he said.

Yes! That land is called Migrainetown, and it is a good place to be if you are director with back-end points and/or an exhibitor selling the eye-cramping privilege for $16 a pop, both shuttered away in the local bank reinvesting the community's money in more 3-D "infrastructure." ("Keep them open," Lee implored, for example, on behalf of Migrainetown's independent movie houses. "Especially with 3-D, this is a new era coming. We have to keep up with it.")

And then there was... this, which apparently is the stock defense for anyone advocating new technology that completely takes viewers out of the movie:

Scorsese compared 3-D to the rise of color movies. He said as a film student at New York University in the early 1960s, he was shocked when he heard predictions that all future movies would be filmed in color. He said anyone harboring doubts about the rising influence of 3-D technology should consider how color movies have taken over the industry.

The 3-D craze allows filmmakers to accomplish the original goals of cinema, Scorsese said.

"The minute it started people wanted three things: color, sound and depth," Scorsese said. "You want to recreate life."

Wrong, wrong, wrong — they wanted color, sound and texting. Get it straight, Marty! Also: Come back to us! Also: If what happens in Vegas truly stays in Vegas, then why do I keep smelling sulfur?

[AP via Awards Daily]

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  • grindhouse141 says:

    Oh Marty... I mean, he is getting older. If you want to get on the band wagon of "new technology," join the IMAX camp with Chris Nolan and co. And least THAT has the potential to further immerse the viewer in the experience.

  • brandon says:

    I have to disagree with you a bit, Stu. Most of the problem with 3-D today is that it's done as an afterthought and/or marketing gimmick. It isn't part of the artistic or creative act of the director. It's just packaging. As a result, it's usually crap.

    I think when 3-D is incorporated, from conception through birth, in the creation of a film it actually works fairly well. Otherwise, if I might unreasonably extend the metaphor, it results in an abortion.

    Those of you who dislike 3-D, wait until you start seeing the higher frame rate films. . . Those look really weird (just like it looks on newer TV sets). Peter Jackson is getting a bit of push-back with how early clips of The Hobbit look. On the upside, that higher frame rate will lead to better-looking 3-D.

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      I think when 3-D is incorporated, from conception through birth, in the creation of a film it actually works fairly well.

      I wouldn't disagree with that. The problem is that conceptual good or even great intentions have rarely (if ever) proven to result in a satisfying moviegoing experience. It's difficult enough to make a 2-D film look good in a theater (or even in an editing room), but to turn over so much of what someone like Scorsese visualizes, develops and produces in 3-D to some dickhead exhibitor who'll pay some 24-year-old minimum wage to underproject it? It's a farce.

      OK, so fine -- let's say that's a separate issue. What's Scorsese after? What are all these guys after? Two things: Freedom and budgets. The only way to uphold both in an era when studios won't take any risk (Paramount reportedly didn't fund a dime of Hugo, and its producer may wind up taking an $80 million bath on it) is to indulge financiers with the gimmick du jour. Anything to widen the profit potential. That's why I love Chris Nolan, because he's neither above that -- he'd probably film an entire movie in IMAX if the technology would cooperate -- nor beneath a sound intellectual argument for why the technology is important. "The minute it started people wanted three things: color, sound and depth," Scorsese says, but I don't believe that. Not that I necessarily think he's lying, but it's a lot less empirically persuasive than Nolan making his specific case for IMAX as the "gold standard."

      Last year I got invited to see some early clips of Transformers 3 in 3-D, which were projected super-bright to punch through those terrible glasses. They looked awesome, because indeed they were conceived, shot and presented in proper 3-D. But that was 20 minutes for the press, just like Scorsese/Lee was an hour or less for the exhibitors. Who's looking out for the actual moviegoer?

      • brandon says:

        In this world of media, nobody looks out for the movie-goer. To the Corporate Creatocrats, the media consumer is little more than a feral beast to be tamed. Although, I will admit, when they ring the bell of 3-D I do tend to salivate a bit -- even if the meat isn't actually delivered -- so perhaps I'm part of the problem.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    This is all getting a bit desperate, isn't it? Current 3D isn't analogous to color film; it's more like those painted overlays that made early black-and-white videogames "color".

    I'm yet to see anything to convince me that the primary motivator isn't (a) money and (b) a point of difference - ANY point of difference - with the home viewing experience. The problem is, the more Hollywood hawks snake oil, the more they're taking bigger chunks from a dwindling audience. Absolutely NOBODY is beating down the door saying "I demand this movie in 3D!" or "24fps is inadequate!" They'd rather see a good movie but, as the ingredients required to bring that about are still beyond the control (and sometimes comprehension) of studio executives, they have to suffer this hucksterism instead.

  • GG says:

    Mr. Scorsese should know that 3D has been around since the 1950's, and that it is not a new phenomenon as he makes it out to be. The comparison with color is way off place, as the comparison with sound. Also, 3D movies as of late have been majorly bombing (the fiasco of John Carter is just a recent example), and the public is growing tired of 3D being slapped on everything in an effort to collect more at the box office. I love you, Marty, but you're way off on this one, and you should get out of the 3D echo chamber. Peter Jackson may have ruined his career because of that (the reaction to his 3D Hobbit, 48fps was very negative). Don't you do that as well, Marty.

  • Max Renn says:

    So let them keep making their 3D experiments that aren't movies anyone wants to see.

  • Josy says:

    usually posts some very fascinating stuff like this. If you are new to this site