Good or Bad? Scorsese Takes ‘Cabret’ On a Three Dimensional Journey

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I could write a post discussing 3D every single day as a new film will be released in the format or discussion arises over the effect 3D is going to have on the future of film. Back in March Martin Scorsese raised a few eyebrows when he weighed in with his thoughts on 3D saying, “We see in depth, for the most part. We go to the theater — it’s in depth. Why couldn’t a film like Precious be in 3D? It should be.” To which many people said (myself included), “Really Marty?”

As it turns out his reply is, “Yes, really, and I am going to now do my own movie in 3D.”

The news comes via Variety saying Scorsese’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret for Columbia Pictures will be shot in 3D and released on December 9, 2011. Of course, the main bit of news here is that Scorsese will be using 3D technology to shoot his picture rather than doing a post-production conversion a la Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans.

Cabret is an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s best-selling children’s novel, centering on an orphaned boy (Asa Butterfield) who secretly lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station and looks after the clocks. He gets caught up in a mystery adventure when he attempts to repair a mechanical man. Along with Butterfield, the film will star Kick-Ass youngster Chloe Moretz as well as Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley.

This news should ease many people’s thoughts considering Scorsese is taking the appropriate approach to the technology and actually seems to see it as a filming benefit rather than a gimmick to spruce up his picture or make the studio a little more dough. However, what is he giving up to shoot in 3D?

Toward the tail end of March, Collider discussed the idea of 3D with Christopher Nolan and why he didn’t use it for his upcoming film Inception. Nolan said, “3D, I think, is an interesting development in movies, or the resurgence of 3D. It’s something we’re looking at and watching. There are certain limitations of shooting in 3D. You have to shoot on video, which I’m not a fan of. I like shooting on film. And so then you’re looking at post-conversion processes which are moving forward in very exciting ways.”

For Inception Nolan said, “We shot the film with a mixture of mostly the predominant bulk of the film is anamorphic 35mm, which is the best quality sort of practical format to shoot on by far. We shot key sequences on 65mm, 5 perf not 15 perf, and we shot VistaVision on certain other sequences.”

From what I understand this is the same approach Scorsese and Robert Richardson used on Shutter Island, which I’ve read was predominately shot using S35 Panavision and then the flashback shots of World War II used 65mm, while using high-res digital cameras with motion picture film stock for some of the visual effects shots including Leonardo DiCaprio’s run to the lighthouse.

Scorsese and Richardson are working together again on Cabret, so this should be an interesting experiment. DreamWorks CEO was recently quoted saying, “Poorly executed 3D is harmful, and it threatens its long-term success. Remember that 3D is a natural experience; it is how most of us see the world everyday. We must give consumers great 3D that looks natural and feels wonderful.”

Katzenberg also gave an interview to Variety where he really dropped the hammer, specifically aimed at the post-production 3D process adding, “We’ve seen the highest end of [3D] in Avatar and you have now witnessed the lowest end of it [in Titans]. You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is ‘OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience.'”

He continued, “The act of doing it was disingenuous. We may get away with it a few times but in the long run, [moviegoers] will wake up. And the day they wake up is the day they walk away from us and we blew it.

Based on Scorsese’s plans he’s doing things properly according to Katzenberg and I would tend to agree. While I am not a fan of 3D film, if you’re going to make one, make it in 3D don’t go the cheap route. Where do you fall in?