not in our stars, but in ourselves
Last night, my cousin and I went to see Pacific Rim – she hadn’t seen it yet, and I guess I’m not averse to watching hot guys for two hours even if I’ve seen them before – in IMAX 3D. I have a hell of a lot of mixed feelings about such gimmickry, but Pacific Rim was produced in and for an era during which such gimmickry is not only encouraged, but expected, especially for big-budget action/sci-fi movies. And I’m no connoisseur of 3D, but it didn’t detract from the film as much as I’d feared it would. It didn’t add anything either, but hey, let’s accentuate the positive.
Nestled among the trailers for other gimmicky 3D exercises in nonsense (like Elysium and Riddick, both of which look frankly ridiculous), there was a trailer for the 75th anniversary re-release of The Wizard of Oz. But not just a plain re-release, no: they are releasing it in IMAX 3D.
I have one question. Just one. And Hollywood, please, take your time in answering:
WHY THE FLYING FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT?
Look. I know I’m a purist and a fuddy-duddy and a generally unpleasant person on the topic of film history. I’m That Guy, the one who will jump in and say, “uh actually Bringing Up Baby came out in 1938″ if someone says it came out in 1939. I am insufferable. I know this. If any of you are ever stuck with me sitting next to you at a dinner party, I sincerely apologize in advance.
But I will stand my ground here. No one wants this. No one asked for this. To take the beautiful, almost antediluvian world of a 1939 children’s film – and to cheapen it by trying to cram it into the horrible, cynical money-making machine of 2013 – is a cardinal sin. If you can bring yourself to watch the trailer linked above, you’ll see just how cheap and embarrassing it feels. It would be like your grandparents trying to use Snapchat: nothing short of a degrading abomination.
I am all for preserving film, and awareness of film history, and MAYBE this is some misguided attempt in that direction. But why not just make a mediocre new film, like Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), to get the kids interested in what you’re interested in without smearing shit all over its face? So to speak.
The whole thing with film-as-spectacle is nothing new, but it’s getting much more aggressive. Movie studios are, as usual, panicking about how many different options audiences have. They have brilliant TV. They have anything they could ever care to know or to watch on their phones. They have rampant piracy on the open seas of the internet. And so studios are trying to figure out how to continue to make shitloads of money. They’ve settled on 3D for now; well, fine. The Wizard of Oz, however, is from an era when it was enough for the film to show off how it had perfected the Technicolor process. That was enough of a gimmick. And it augmented the story – it wasn’t just there for the sake of being there, and it didn’t detract. It was a thematic element. It’s not as if movie moguls in 1939 weren’t concerned with making money; of course they were. But they were also men who genuinely loved and understood movies. They weren’t just businessmen who had to settle into a high-powered executive job somewhere and fell into a job at the head of Time Warner somehow. That’s what leads to nonsense like 3D Oz: the people running the show just don’t give a fuck about anything but keeping their paychecks. We’ve all become so disgustingly cynical, and I for one am asking any of you to drop a house on me as soon as you can manage. Anything would be better than to live in a world where this kind of debasement occurs.