Why It's a Good Thing for the Film Industry To Die

*Profanity Warning For Video.*

Dear Andrew,

I was going to disagree with your assessment of the newest film from Peter Jackson:

As for The Hobbit — well, the first seven hours are a little slow, but it picks up in the final third. I mean, really, it’s one book, make one film. Use some skill, make some choices. Be an artist.

That said, the picture, though endless, looks lovely. The final hour really is exciting. And Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, is so incredibly good he almost kept me awake through the opening hours. Or days. Or whatever.

Now what they should do is release “The Studio Cut.” Let some executives into the editing room to pare the thing down to the entertaining bits. One hour long and brilliant. Can’t wait.

But then I realized that I hadn’t actually seen the film. Over the Christmas break my wife, sister, brother-in-law, and I saw the IMAX 3-D presentation. And we were all mesmerized, uplifted into a state of cinematic rapture. April and I even want to pay money to see it again. But I concede your point, minus the additional emotional intensity from the overwhelming audio-visual immersion, perhaps the first third and some of the middle could’ve disappointed. But seeing it in a huge format with characters and effects whooshing out of the screen toward me, those slower excursions through Middle Earth didn’t bore. I was too busy taking in all the details.

What does that mean? That the same motion picture watched on traditional film vs IMAX 3-D can yield such different reactions?

It’s another variation of something we movie losers geeks enthusiasts have discussed for years: the difference between experiencing a movie in the traditional fashion, projected through film onto a screen in a theater vs. our modern innovation of watching in the comforts of home on a TV screen.

How does storytelling change when the technological tools advance and the medium transforms? Sure, the film of The Hobbit might have improved with some editing, but would the IMAX 3-D experience still have immersed to the same degree? If I’m paying an extra 50% at the box office for more sound and image, doesn’t it make sense that I get more run-time too?

With the continued advance of 3D film technologies and new frame rates, could the genres of stories shift too? Could we start seeing even more traditional, epic filmmaking aimed at a broad audience?


P.S. I beg to differ on the theatrical cuts of The Lord of the Rings being better than the extended, director’s cuts. But then again I’ve only seen the theatrical cuts on film and the extended only on DVD and Blu-Ray. Maybe the director’s cuts are only better if you watch them at home, accompanied by family, only periodically interrupted by a Siberian Husky wanting to go out?


Related at PJ Lifestyle:

The Case for Restricting Artists

More perspectives on The Hobbit at PJ Lifestyle:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Chore

Why J.R.R. Tolkien’s Enduring Popularity Is a Cause for Hope in Our Popular Culture