As Avatar fails to win an Oscar, has the 3-D backlash started already?

SO, politics, political correctness and the Pentagon, predictably, won the Best Film Oscar.

But, the small issue of tub-thumping, pro-American, low-budget war-film directed by a woman (David) beats huge-budget 3-D box office smash (Goliath) aside, does the failure of James Cameron’s Avatar to get the top Academy Award gong say as much about our reluctance to embrace new 3-D technology?


Backlashes only start when people believe they are being backed into a corner and their choice is being eroded or limited.

And right now we’re being force-fed 3-D from every technological corner. So, the predictable but understandable backlash has already started.

Not only are all the world’s TV manufacturers telling us that we’ll all be wearing dodgy-looking Blues Brothers-type spectacles and watching everything in 3-D by Christmas but Hollywood studios are also firmly astride the 3-D bandwagon, practically making us feel like imbecilic technophobes if we don’t subscribe to the revolution.

Now Sky TV is about to launch its own 3-D service too. It’s about as close to ‘being there’ as you can possibly be, allegedly. And for that reason, we have to have it. ‘We’ have no choice in this you understand – it’s coming and we’re having it, whether we want it or not.

Dear Lord, whatever happened to our trust in ‘suspended disbelief’ – the cornerstone upon which all good fiction was built?

As a colleague pointed out to me this morning, back in the day Will Shakespeare dressed men as women and enjoyed some of the best theatre critiques ever. Audiences were asked to suspend their disbelief and to concentrate on the story, the sub-plot and poetry of hugely engaging theatre.

The same was true in the early days of cinema and TV. Quality of script and acting was always more important than the so-called ‘reality’ of the piece.

While I gladly admit to loving my HDTV and the visual feast it delivers, it doesn’t mean I’ll watch any old crap just because it looks pretty. Band of Brothers is only so bloody good in Blu Ray High definition because it’s so bloody good – period. Laurel and Hardy will be no more engaging in 3-D than in standard 2-D.

I firmly believe a brilliantly-scripted movie, well-acted, expertly produced, with attention to historical detail and character will massively benefit from the advances technology brings, including 3-D.

But if it’s a dog, it is still going to be a dog whether it’s got all the latest hi-tech bells and whistles or not.

And that’s the point. The danger of new technology is that there is always a risk of undermining the fundamental quality of a piece and trying to mask that deletion with new-fangled shiny bells and whistles.

Let’s hope 3-D opens the door to new qualities and doesn’t close the door on traditional ones.

Are you listening James Cameron?

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