2011-01-26 02:59:01 UTC
I wonder how you would interpret the phrase "a Brechtian trick" in the
following writing? I apologize for the fact that you may have to read
a bit of the piece that follows to answer that question, but it is a
rather interesting piece (to me, at least), and I hope it might be a
worthwhile collection of thoughts.
Of course, I assume that "Brechtian" refers to Bertol Brecht, but this
alone does not clarify the meaning.
(Also, if anyone cares to comment on the subject of the article, I
would certainly be glad to hear your thoughts....)
Film critic Roger Ebert has long been a critic of 3D films -- he
claims that they are nearly always too dark, and that the 3D effects
they produce really don't add much of anything to the films in which
they are used.
A movie-insider recently wrote to Mr. Ebert to agree that 3D effects
in film are not very satisfying -- but he maintains that the problem
isn't with the technology, it is with human evolution: the brain has
evolved in such a way that 3D effects will NEVER be satisfying to
He makes a very interesting case here. It's a bit technical, but I
think you'll find it interesting....
"Why 3D doesn't work and never will. Case closed." by Roger Ebert:
=== begin quoted text ===
I received a letter that ends, as far as I am concerned, the
discussion about 3D. It doesn't work with our brains and it never
The notion that we are asked to pay a premium to witness an inferior
and inherently brain-confusing image is outrageous. The case is
This letter is from Walter Murch, seen at left [photo at link above],
the most respected film editor and sound designer in the modern
cinema. As a editor, he must be intimately expert with how an image
interacts with the audience's eyes. He won an Academy Award in 1979
for his work on "Apocalypse Now," whose sound was a crucial aspect of
[From Walter Murch's letter to Mr. Ebert]:
I read your review of "Green Hornet" and though I haven't seen the
film, I agree with your comments about 3D.
The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker)
and small. Somehow the glasses "gather in" the image -- even on a huge
Imax screen -- and make it seem half the scope of the same image when
looked at without the glasses.
I edited one 3D film back in the 1980's -- "Captain Eo" -- and also
noticed that horizontal movement will strobe much sooner in 3D than it
does in 2D. This was true then, and it is still true now. It has
something to do with the amount of brain power dedicated to studying
the edges of things. The more conscious we are of edges, the earlier
strobing kicks in.
The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue.
A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at
least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the
audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is
80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.
But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet,
then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D
films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And
600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem
before. All living things with eyes have always focussed [sic] and
converged at the same point.
If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at
six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the
base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle
resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window
and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That
imaginary triangle has now "opened up" so that your lines of sight are
almost -- almost -- parallel to each other.
We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn't. But it is like
tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time,
difficult. So the "CPU" of our perceptual brain has to work extra
hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches.
They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never
prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of
technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing
true "holographic" images.
Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D
films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of
milliseconds for the brain/eye to "get" what the space of each shot is
And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience
that they are in a certain "perspective" relationship to the image. It
is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really
gripped an audience they are "in" the picture in a kind of dreamlike
"spaceless" space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality
than you can ever cope with.
So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive.
The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed
All best wishes,
=== end quoted text ===
Roger Ebert's blog:
To me, the most interesting thing that Mr. Murch says is
=== begin quoted text ===
3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain "perspective"
relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if
the film story has really gripped an audience they are "in" the
picture in a kind of dreamlike "spaceless" space. So a good story will
give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with....
=== end quoted text ===
Now, one might read his piece as a proclamation of the limitations of
the human brain -- but I see it as quite the opposite: it is a
*celebration* of the human brain! The reason we are often
"underwhelmed" by the tricks and techniques of 3D films is that our
own brains are so magnificently capable of generating what Mr. Murch
calls " 'spaceless' space" -- and that gift of the mind/imagination is
so compelling that something like 3D even at its best just doesn't add
much to it. (It can even distract from it.) Perhaps this is why
"stereo photography" -- such a big craze in the early days of
photography -- is largely regarded as a quaint antique (fascinating as
it can be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereo_photography )
Brett (in Berkeley, California, USA)
My plan for erasing poverty from the world with micro-endowments that
"give" forever into the future