When James Cameron released “Avatar” in 2009, the marketing execs in Hollywood told us that we had just arrived at a revolutionary moment for 3-D. Cinema would never be the same. On the other hand, Baz Luhrmann’s recent 3-D version of “The Great Gatsby” may have arrived with less fanfare, but it possibly signified something of even greater importance: A 3-D film no longer has to be a theatrical amusement park ride. It can be…art. Here are a few unexpected gems that would look great with those funny glasses.
5 “The Holy Mountain”
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain” remained one of the greatest films never seen until a legal settlement only a few years ago. Though the narrative veers into pure psychedelic confusion at times, the film is more of an experience than a story. Its disturbing religious imagery will burn itself into your retina for all eternity. A 3-D version would be as frightening as it would be compelling.
With a top-notch performance by Jimmy Stewart as a San Francisco detective, Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” builds suspense through the character’s fear of heights. It depicts Stewart’s frightening episodes of spatial disorientation through the use of the dolly zoom. Also known as “the trombone,” a dolly zoom involves moving the camera on a track while compensating for the changing distance by zooming in on the subject. The subject remains the same size but the background appears to flatten or deepen, creating a stunning effect. Now imagine one of Hitch’s famous dolly zooms in 3-D…
3 “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”
Spielberg recently released an IMAX 3-D version of “Jurassic Park.” Would anyone like him to do that with “E.T.”? Raise your hands! For those Millennials that know Spielberg mainly as the director of “Lincoln,” “E.T.” was a heartwarming 1982 blockbuster about Elliot, a child who hides an alien in his closet while the creature tries to get back to his home light years away. The iconic shot of Elliott riding his bike in the moonlit sky with E.T. perched on the handlebars is an image begging to be converted to 3-D. This film deserves more of a legacy than the lousy video game that nearly put Atari out of business.
2 “Citizen Kane”
Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” occupies the No. 1 position on the AFI 100—a widely accepted list of the greatest films in history—and likely will endure as one of the greatest masterpieces of 20th century cinema. The film revolutionized the art of filmmaking on numerous levels, including the introduction of the deep shot. While previous films often focused on the foreground and blurred the background, the deep shot keeps everything on screen absolutely sharp. That clarity makes the film an ideal candidate for digital reconstruction in 3-D. A visit to the cavernous reaches of Kane’s Xanadu (the giant mansion that becomes his tomb) would be even more haunting that way.
1 “2001: A Space Odyssey”
Stanley’s Kubrick’s sci-fi hymn to the meaning of life on Earth and beyond has attracted cult audiences for decades. Though emotionally opaque, the film serves a visual feast of unforgettable images such as the mysterious black monolith or the bone wielded by a prehistoric ape as a weapon. Many scenes explore the aesthetics of weightlessness in which pedestrian objects like a ballpoint pen float in the air. Now imagine that pen hovering above you in an auditorium. The thought makes a cinephile weak in the knees.