Need help and references with history of 3-D movies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Matt Fisher, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    First I just wanted to thank those of you that helped me with my World War II topic, the paper is coming out great so far.

    Now, onto the next one. I am taking another course that, to break it down simply, deals with representations of spaces in literature (we've read some Ballard, Verne, etc.) For our final paper we have to make up our own topic that relates to the course, and since my teacher is a film buff, he is letting me write on 3-D (despite the fact that nothing in our class has specifically focused on films at all).

    So, I am still not sure exactly how I plan to make an agrument, but I want to write about what sets apart 3-D movies from the rest (besides the fact that they're pretty much all bad movies), more like looking at any kind of theories as to why a 3-D representation requires certain elements, and what those elements do to transform the space between the screen and the viewer. I know the answer may seem a bit obvious, but I'm hoping there has to be something a littlle deeper.

    So after all that rant, I'm basically just looking for any good literature on 3-D films, or if you know of any movies that might have any extras about 3-D, it would be greatly appreciated. Most of what I've been finding is just histories of the technology, and since I don't have the equipment to screen 3-D movies in my apartment, I need to find as much out there about these movies as possible. Thanks-
     
  2. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    ^ anyone?
     
  3. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    If you think that all 3-D movies have been bad, then it shows you indeed have a lot of research to do! What about DIAL M FOR MURDER, KISS ME KATE, INFERNO, HOUSE OF WAX, MISS SADIE THOMPSON or HONDO? Keep in mind that the process was not always associated only with exploitation or kiddie projects. During the 1950's boom period, there were numerous 3-D westerns, dramas, adventure films, noir crime pictures, even musicals.

    There is a lot of misinformation on this subject in print and on the internet. I'd start with tracking down a copy of AMAZING 3-D by Hal Morgan and Dan Symmes. 3-D MOVIES: A HISTORY OF THE STEREOSCOPIC CINEMA by R.M. Hayes is a source of some good info but has more than a few errors.

    There are some other HTF members (paging Bob F!) who know all there is to know on this subject.
     
  4. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    Thanks Steve, I actually ordered copies of both of those books yesterday, and I realize I was wrong with my initial statement. I had just finished looking up some of the 3-D movies of the 80's (Friday the 13th p. 3, Jaws 3-D, etc.) and those were fresh in my mind, by no means do I think that Dial M, Kiss Me Kate, or the others you listed are bad films.
     
  5. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Another thing to remember is that unless you've see the golden-era 3-D films in dual-projection polarized 3-D, it's going to be difficult to understand how and why they work better when shown in "depth" rather than "flat".
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Especially true of Dial M for Murder.
     
  7. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    Dial M is the only one I have seen, could anyone make some comments on Kiss Me Kate, House of Wax, The Stranger Wore a Gun, or Creature from the Black Lagoon? I'll never be able to see those before this term paper is due.
     
  8. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    DIAL M is the "flattest" looking of all those, Matt. I've read various reports and explanations as to how and why, but I can tell you from experience that the others are far "deeper"!

    I personally love the 3-D westerns; outdoor epics really benefit from the depth.

    STRANGER has an incredible moment shot from the front door area of a saloon, with action staged on several levels in several rooms. MISS SADIE THOMPSON was also amazing, proving that a dramatic film with no blatant gimmick shots can seem more stereoscopic than COMIN'AT YA!
     
  9. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Matt, while it would be difficult to write a paper without actually having seen these films properly, here are some opinions about the question you asked.

    One of the most important aspects about the 3-D films of the '50s is the most overlooked one-- that the producers of these films weren't trying to bring the image out in to the audience (this myth was purpotrated by the advertisers), but they were creating a window for you to view into.

    For example, would the tension in HOUSE OF WAX during the scene where Phyllis Kirk is being chased by the madman down the streets of turn-of-the-century be as effective flat than in 3-D? Not if you stop to consider the way the scene is composed: there's one particular shot in which she is standing behind a wall closer to the audience, whereas he is set back in the distance, moving ever so closer. This effect is lost in the flat version, but makes the scene a real tense moment in 3-D.

    Likewise, the scene in which Paul Pecerni and Charles Bronson are fighting. In the 3-D version, Bronson leaps out of the foreground and into the background. A very effective scene that ALWAYS gets gasps in the audience. Totally lost in the flat version.

    So yes, there is a MAJOR difference between seeing it the right way and seeing it flat. Just as important, if not moreso, than seeing a film in its OAR.
     
  10. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    Thanks for the comments, I understand the importance of being able to see these films in 3-D to truly grasp what they are doing, but honestly at this point I don't have time to revise my topic, so I suppose I'll just have to watch these films flat, but very slowly and carefully and try to make the most out of what the 3-D possibilities would have been. I suppose I'll try to make it more an argument over the importance of depth in presentation and perception. I've got some good stuff on 3-D, now to find some psychology literature.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Steve is correct, the main reason being that Hitchcock did not need (or want) dramatic, over-the-top, 3D special effects in his movie. Just some subtle shots (the ringing phone in the foreground—but not too much so, for example).

    Rumor at the time (you might research this) was that Hitchcock did not want to make the movie in 3D, and if true, would also have contributed to the lack of obvious 3D effects.
     

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