I’ll Tell You What’s Immersive

So today the famous luddite confesses she didn’t even considered HFR 3D for The Hobbit and went straight for good old 2D.

My problem with 3D is not philosophical really, it’s merely physical. 3D is painful for my eyes and it makes me nauseous. It’s just not worth it, for me. I tried. Coraline was supposed to be visually amazing in 3D but it seemed kind of blurred to me. Pina was supposed to bring me on stage with the dancers and it just didn’t. Maybe it’s me. I have a very good eyesight, I was tested last week and could read line 10. To me, the world is sharp, comfortable to look at. Only I’m quite sensitive to light so I need to wear shades outside, preferably green aviators. Why do I see 3D movies so blurred? Why are they so tiring and painful for me to watch? Aren’t they supposed to look sharp and fabulous? Well I have no idea. What I know, is that after a 3D movie, when I go outside and see the real 3d world, I feel utterly relieved.

Also Logan hates 3D because he wears glasses so he needs to wear two pairs of glasses at the same time, one of them very heavy, and he often says the next innovation at the cinema will be having to wear snorkel and fins as well.

So we decided to just skip all the HFR 3D thing and went straight for the 2D version. Personally I didn’t have big expectations, I just wanted to see Martin Freeman act and to see New Zealand act. I wasn’t disappointed.

Well at the beginning I was quite annoyed. The starting sequence about dwarf history was visually overloaded and emotionally aggressive, too much for someone who was eating some sushi while talking about hybrid cars only fifteen minutes before. I wasn’t able to follow the camera movements properly so I couldn’t focus on anything, characters, backgrounds, voiceover. I seem to recall something about Smaug destroying dwarf cities, all the rest was numb rollercoaster. When I arrived in Hobbiton I took me several minutes to adjust, I still had problems making sense of camera movements and finding quickly enough what area of the image I was supposed to look at, but as soon as I was inside a Hobbit hole I was able to join the movie, and the movie started to feel immersive to me.

Peter Jackson says HFR 3D makes cinema immersive, but to me it’s the other way around. I can’t suspend my disbelief if my eyes are sore, the image is out of focus except for a small area somewhere and the camera movements make no sense for my brain. The dwarf history sequence is meant to shock you with HFR 3D, I suppose, and some of the approach was still there in 2D.

Anyway, from Hobbiton on, I really enjoyed the movie. I liked the acting, I liked the creatures, CGI was not too distracting, maybe depth of field was a little deeper than necessary but overall it felt great, even the action was fine (I would have preferred shorter fighting sequences though, fighting sequences become boring very quickly). I felt like I was nine years old again watching The Never Ending Story, I loved the sense of wonder there and I could totally connect with my five year old niece who watched it with huge eyes.

But you know, the best way, the truly immersive way to enjoy Hobbiton is not HFR 3D, it’s not regular 3D, it’s not even 2D. It’s the real thing, the actual 3D. Going to Matamata Waikato on a sunny afternoon, riding the bus on the Army road and walking the path up to Bag End. The quality of the light over there is truly amazing, you really can understand why Jackson wanted to film there. The grass is so soft. And once you’ve some spent time sitting in the garden of Bilbo’s house, and you know exactly where your North and your South and your East and your West are, and how far exactly is the big tree, and how steep is the path for you to run when you want to share in an adventure, your disbelief is not going to come back, ever .

When the night fell over Hobbiton and Bilbo settled for his lone dinner I though it’s a real pity I had to leave before sunset and wasn’t able to look at the stars from Bags End. There they are.

When I woke up this morning there was snow outside the holes.