The Conversation: Will Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' Save 3D?

The Conversation: Will Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' Save 3D?

Oct 11, 2011

Following last night's secret, work-in-progress screening of Martin Scorsese's Hugo, it didn't take long for myself and a few other online journos to giddily dissect Scorsese's use of 3D throughout the film. Even though the effects weren't 100% yet, one could tell the master director had delivered what was perhaps the most satisfying 3D experience since Avatar, weaving the technology into the film so that it was very much a character you could invest in and not just a silly distraction. We wondered whether Scorsese was forced to include 3D, or if it was his idea from the start to inject this love letter to early cinema with a very modern technological flavor. Either way, Scorsese pulls it off nearly flawlessly, as if we're watching him fall more in love with 3D as the film chugs along, transporting us to an almost dreamlike landscape populated by everything we love about the movies.

You can check out David Ehrlich's longer take on the film, which definitely has some rough patches early on, but once it gets going you can't help but sit in awe and admire one of the great directors of all time paying homage to a period that's so near and dear to his heart. And as the online world discusses the first screening of Hugo today, a lot of attention has been paid to the 3D, which some feel might just save the struggling format from ultimately digging its own grave. And if Paramount is smart, they'll use the 3D buzz to help promote a film that doesn't really have a target audience, aside from film geeks and people who like the guy that directed Goodfellas.

Personally, I really loved the 3D and thought it added a great deal  of whimsical magic to the already-stunning scenery. But is it really the best since Avatar, or are people blowing it out of proportion? Let's get a feel for what this conversation looks like around the web ...

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"One thing’s for sure, though. Scorsese knew exactly what he was talking about when he spoke of the immersive power of 3D, and in his hands it is masterful. Each shot is gorgeously composed with a textural spatial sense and an astonishingly impressive depth of field that hits you visually, psychologically and emotionally." - The Playlist

"The 3D technology links directly back to the wonder that French audiences felt when they first saw moving pictures, so lifelike they were convinced the train coming into the station would run them over; Scorsese looks at the people who call 3D a gimmick, compares us to those who thought motion pictures were a fad a century ago, then goes on to show us what's probably the most gorgeous live-action 3D film ever made. The 3D isn't just a new cinematic trick for Scorsese to play with, but inherently tied to the narrative, a key element that shines up everything else around it.' - Cinemablend

"Has Scorsese just saved 3D? No doubt that's overstating the case, but viewers seemed to agree that the film makes remarkable use of the oft-derided technology." - The Wrap

"Interestingly, it’s Hugo‘s interest in old-fashioned technology that makes it such an appropriate setting in which to demonstrate the possibilities of newfangled 3D. The really impressive use here isn’t in the dazzling action set pieces — though happily, there are some of those too — but in the subtler scenes, where it’s seamlessly dispatched to make for a more immersive viewing experience." - Slashfilm

"Let it suffice to say that Scorsese, mining the innovations of his filmmaking forebears and contemporaries alike, runs his typically adventurous camera through the 3-D ringer with aplomb. His introduction — comprising a whooshing tour of the station, a hungry pursuit by the game, gimpy Baron Cohen and his equally game Doberman, and finally a gorgeous perspective on winter lowering over Paris — is a thing of nearly wordless beauty." - Movieline

"Scorsese's first experiment with 3D has his cameras going in and out and all around this world and the clockworks inside Hugo's clock home to really use the medium to its full effect. It also will be impossible for film fans not to marvel at how Scorsese effortlessly recreates some of the classic imagery from the silent film era." - Coming Soon


"Not a kid's movie, but a movie to help kids fall in live with cinema. Spectacular 3D" (@misterpatches)

"Hugo is outstanding. 1st film where 3D is a vital organ of the overall narrative. Brilliant and at its heart, profound." (@davidc78)

"Scorsese's Hugo is splendid in 3D and certainly a film for all ages. Movie buffs will love it. It's also the perfect companion to The Artist." (@blackfilm)

"In Hugo, Scorsese experiments w/ 3D the way Melies pioneered SFX. The simple first 1/3rd is a showcase for the power of visual storytelling." (@TheFilmStage)

@EDouglasWW: You thought the 3D in "Hugo" was a game-changer? It was very well executed but what game is it changing? (@JoBlocom)

@JoBlocom: "It's arguably one of our greatest living American filmmakers tackling new technology in an innovative way." (@EDouglasWW)

@EDouglasWW What was innovative about it? He just used 3D well. Is doing something correctly now an innovation?
It was very well done, just not seeing the innovation. But we all agree it's great 3D, so let's leave it at that!" (@JoBlocom)

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