Among the movies that I saw this past year were the re-release of The Lion King and The Adventures Of Tintin — which were shown in 3-D, which either excites you or causes you to cringe these days. But then, I’m not surprised — technology has always been known to bring about mixed reactions, even those associated with motion pictures. And that includes an innovation that was created long before the beginnings of the widescreen age.
3-D movie technology harkened back to the late-19th Century, when William Freise-Greene and Frederic E. Ives set in motion what the technology would eventually become decades later. For almost the next thirty years, filmmakers experimented with 3-D on a number of fiilms with somewhat mixed results — among them, several Nazi propaganda films that were released in Germany during the 1930’s. (Ironically enough, advances in 3-D movie technology were put on hold when Germany helped start World War II in 1939.) By the early-1950’s, 3-D movies captured the public’s imaginationn, starting with Bwana Devil (1952) — but within several years, the craze died out. Film critic Roger Ebert is one of many who feel that 3-D technology is hindering the movie industry — and in some cases, his reasons are justified. Growing up, Ebert no doubt saw his share of 3-D movies during the 1950’s — which, with few exceptions, haven’t stood the test of time; the same can also be said for the 3-D glasses worn by movie audiences, which proved to be more trouble than they were worth. But it should also be noted that the major Hollywood film studios helped create the 3-D craze partly because television was largely contributing to declining movie theater ticket sales, and the industry needed new gimmicks partly to compete with TV. (The movie industry would have better luck with such widescreen film processes like CinemaScope, Cinerama, and Panavision by decade’s end and beyond.) From the 1960’s to the early-1980’s, 3-D movies attempted to make a comeback of sorts — but many of the films produced in that format left everything to be desired.
By 1985, IMAX, famous not only for its widescreen process but also its movie theaters scattered throughout the world, started to correct the problems that plagued the 3-D films and the technology associated with them during the 1950’s — and by 2003, the improved product re-entered mainstream filmmaking; whether or not it’s actually improved the movie-watching experience remains to be seen.
When an innovation like 3-D makes its presence known, reaction to it is bound to be mixed — followed by the possible fear of things changing not for the better. And yet, we’ve never given up improving on almost all ideas and the innovations that they spawn — partly because we have the advantage of learning from not only our mistakes, but others’ as well. Whether or not they succeed in the long run and make a lasting impact on the industries that they’re associated with — and that includes 3-D movies — will be decided by not only the public, but history as well. But let’s not forget the true purpose of the movie-watching experience — namely to be both enertained and enlightened. And in the end, what truly counts when you’re watching a truly great movie is witnesses great acting, writing, directing, camerawork, and all the other equally-great elements that continue to remind us of motion pictures at their best, while inspiring future actors and artists to reach even greater heights of excellence.
John Lavernoich is the author of the novels Code Name: Chameleons and Chameleons To The Rescue, as well as close to three dozen articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet – to learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his writing achievements, please visit his official website (http://jlavernoich2008.web.officelive.com/default.aspx), as well as his pages on Windows Live Spaces(http://cid-ef88d131988ab38f.profile.live.com), Facebook(http://www.facebook.com/john.lavernoich?ref=name), MySpace(http://www.myspace.com/jlavernoich), and Twitter(http://twitter.com/JLav65). Mr. Lavernoich also maintains his own video channel on YouTube(http://www.youtube.com/user/JLav65?feature=mhsn) as well as his Author Spotlight page on Lulu Books‘ website (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Highroad).
©2011 John Lavernoich.