Moonrise Kingdom

Written by  //  June 23, 2012  //  Cinematical, The Theatre  //  No comments

Why Isn’t This Movie in 3D?

It seems slightly ironic that Martin Scorsese’s film about film preservation was shot in the gimmicky 3D format, but the fact that Martin “My Blood is the Cinema” Scorsese would chose to use 3D says a lot about the future of filmmaking. 3D is no longer a gimmick; it’s now a tool for modern filmmaking. I can complain about the morally bankrupt executives who decide to post-convert films just to boost the box office receipts a bit, but when they start with films like The Last Air Bender or Clash of the Titians 2: Perseus Goes Medieval there’s not a lot I care to say on the subject. Love it or hate it 3D is here to stay. Which is why I’m so upset that Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom wasn’t shot in 3D. This film was the perfect film to bring 3D to the art house. Don’t believe me? Let me convince you.

The whole 3D ball got rolling when Mr. Titanic decided he wanted to go to space. The story was a joke, but everyone who saw the film had to admit, “Damn, the 3D was pretty cool.” It was so cool that people were depressed they didn’t live on Pandora. And as a filmmaker, if James Cameron can make people depressed from a sci-fi action movie with a shitty plot, I would consider him a master of cinema. What made his 3D so great was that he had created this wonderful world that was even more fleshed out by using a technique that was under explored and abandoned. The world came to life in stunning 3D.  Which is why Wes Anderson should’ve been the indie disciple of 3D with Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes Anderson is a master at creating unique twee environments for his unique twee characters to interact in. And the world of Moonrise Kingdom is his best yet. Better than the Rushmore campus, better than the house with pink walls in The Royal Tenenbaums, better than the whole stop motion universe of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The world he’s created for this film is better than a thousand and one graphic designers working with motion capture to create a world where touching the end of your braids signals a sexual connection. Moonrise Kingdom is an example of a director at the peak of his powers making a beautiful and immersive film. It’s almost perfect, but I’ll spare you the gushing review of the film, there’ll be more than enough time for that in the future. Right now, I just want to complain about why the film wasn’t shot in 3D.

One thing that makes for breathtaking 3D effects is utilizing the depth of the screen. Just look at the otherwise panned Prometheus; Scott was able to place the camera just outside a lot of the sets he was shooting on to make the screen feel even more like a window into the world of the film. The best way to make use of depth of a set or a shot is to shoot with a wide angle. In the tradition of Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon, Wes Anderson employs wide angle shots whenever he’s not busy shooting overhead close-ups of cutesy items or ironic handwriting.

The next great way to make use of 3D is to move the camera throughout the world of the film as seen in the great action sequences of Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. The camera, or the CGI equivalent of the camera, flows through crashing buildings and around ships giving the audience a larger context for the action that is taking place on the screen. Now, Wes Anderson never moves the camera like Spielberg did in Tintin, but it’s impossible to move a camera like that in a world where the laws of physics actually need to be obeyed. But he does love a good tracking shot. Moving his camera through the bowels of the Belafonte in the Life Aquatic or as the… whatever the train was named in his train movie, he loves exploring the world with the camera as the audience’s guide.

So, two things that great 3D movies have in common are wide angle shots and camera motion, and Wes Anderson kills at both of these things.  Why wasn’t he approached by someone suggesting that he shoot in 3D? Maybe he just had to skip his bi-monthly lunch when Scorsese was going to pitch the idea to him. I don’t know it just seems that Wes Anderson is the perfect person to bring the 3D format to the art house.  Moonrise Kingdom was the perfect film to make that happen. The world he’s created in the film is so beautiful and I can’t imagine anything better than being even more a part of that world.

Donnybrook needs to start an online petition demanding that this film be post converted to 3D by the same team the post converted The Avengers. Take a few months, make this happen and then re-release the film right at the beginning of Oscar season in 3D. This film should be the first art house film to be screened in 3D. This tool isn’t going anywhere and the sooner we can get 3D into the hands of people that care about more things that just box office boosts the better. There are cinephiles out there that want to buy a new TV, and they have to listen to the guy at Best Buy tell them, “If you love movies, you need to get a 3D TV. It’s the perfect way to watch Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.”

About the Author

Fritz Godard

Fritz Godard is Donnybrook's film columnist, world-renowned filmmaker, and reason behind Marilyn Monroe's demise.

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