Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stefan Drössler: The History of 3D (a lecture show)

140 min. 2K DCP, 3D XpanD. Cinema Orion, Helsinki (3D), 24 March 2012.

Stefan Drössler opened our first 3D retrospective with his already legendary lecture show which he presented for the first time in the FIAF Tokyo Congress in 2007. I saw it then and was already impressed, and now the lecture show has grown and expanded a lot. The 2K digital reformatting of 12 different historical 3D systems or formats has been very successfully realized.

The contents included: - How does 3D work? - Paper prints, FR 1900s (mildly erotic). - The unintentional 3D impact of Georges Méliès movies which were shot on a double camera which produced two negatives with the proper angle difference (Le Chaudron infernal [FR 1903], L'Oracle de Delphes [FR 1903]). - Max Skladanowsky: Plastische Weltbilder, DE 1900s. - Louis Lumière 1935: L'Arrivée d'un train 3D, FR 1935, Mother and baby 3D, FR 1935, A beach scene with playing children 3D, FR 1935. - The 1936 Paris programme around L'Ami de monsieur, FR 1936, the first 3D sound movie: L'Ami de monsieur outtake, ski scene on a hill slope. - Raumbilder: the Berlin Olympics, DE 1936, running, cycling. - 6 Mädels rollen ins Wochenend, DE 1939. - 3D military films of WWII (DE 1940s). - Boehner Film after WWII: Volkswagen commercials, Oktoberfest commercial, DE 1950s. - In Russia: many experiments with Stereokino, the first 3D feature films. Aleksandr Andriyevsky: Robinson Crusoe / Robinzon Kruzo (SU 1946), a 3D masterpiece according to Sergei Eisenstein. - Hungary: Plasztikus Films. Allatkerti seta (A Walk in the Zoo), HU 1950s, Felix Bodrossy. - The Festival of Britain, South Bank Exhibition, Telekinema, 3D Technicolor, GB 1951. Norman McLaren: Now Is the Time, CA 1951 *. The Festival of Britain show toured internationally and probably inspired the 3D wave of Hollywood in the 1950s. Bwana Devil was stupid but made a lot of money. - It Came from Outer Space trailer (US 1953). - Dial M for Murder (US 1954). - Inferno (US 1953). - Walt Disney: Melody (US 1953) *. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was the last in this wave. - 70 mm film could be used for a dual 3D image. Stereokino 70. In the USSR, Parad attraktsionov (SU 1960s) still by Aleksandr Andrieyevsky. - USA: Stereovision, anamorphic, mainly for sex movies. The Stewardesses (US 1970) with psychedelic layers. - Space vision for Flesh for Frankenstein, Jaws 3D, etc. Arch Oboler was still at it with The Bubble (US 1966) with its visions of a strange town with hovering beer trays. - Spacevision 2 was in use in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Spain, France, and India. Dynasty / Qian dao wan li zhu (TW/HK 1977). - With the digital era, dimensionalization became possible for movies shot in 2D. Even of classical paintings 3D versions have been attempted. - John Lasseter: Knick Knack (US 1989)* - Resident Evil: Afterlife (DE/FR/US 2010). - U2 3D (US 2007, D: Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington), one of the best 3D movies). - Pina (DE/FR/GB 2011).

Stefan listed his 3D favourites: U2 3D, Coraline, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Some artists have a sense for space. Why didn't Roman Polanski shoot Carnage in 3D like Hitchcock did in Dial M for Murder? Digital 3D was meant to be unique for the cinema experience, but big movies are dependent on tv and other money-making windows, and 3D cinema tickets are felt to be too expensive.

Bonus extracts from The French Line (US 1953): Jane Russell in the big production numbers "Any Gal From Texas" and "Looking For Trouble", sexy and humoristic, with a sense of play (yet not reaching the level of the wit and style of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).

One of the best film historical lecture shows I have seen. There was a lot of interesting information not to be found in film history books or even well-known databases. Technically it worked very well. My favourite samples were of the animations of Norman McLaren (Now Is the Time), Walt Disney (Melody), and John Lasseter (Knick Knack).

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