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Shooting 'Hugo Cabret' in 3D Has Scorsese 'Rethinking Cinema'

by
November 22, 2010

Martin Scorsese

Though the popularity and love for 3D from studios and audiences alike has already taken off, veteran director Martin Scorsese is in the midst of shooting his first 3D motion picture right now. His adaptation of the children's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret starring Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen and more is being natively shot in 3D. Word has come through the grapevine that production has been slow-going because of all the logistical issues of shooting in 3D, but also because Scorsese has found himself approaching filmmaking a little differently as he crafts his film with the third dimension in mind for audiences. Find out why below!

As for Scorsese's leap into 3D, he talked to The Guardian and said, "I've always liked 3D. I mean, we're sitting here in 3D. We are in 3D. We see in 3D. So why not?" That's one way of looking at it, and 3D has Scorsese looking at cinema in a whole new light as well. Here's what the famed director had to say:

"Every shot is rethinking cinema, rethinking narrative – how to tell a story with a picture. Now, I'm not saying we have to keep throwing javelins at the camera, I'm not saying we use it as a gimmick, but it's liberating. It's literally a Rubik's Cube every time you go out to design a shot, and work out a camera move, or a crane move. But it has a beauty to it also. People look like… like moving statues. They move like sculpture, as if sculpture is moving in a way. Like dancers…"

It sounds like 3D has Scorsese and likely even the production designers and the rest of the crew thinking even more carefully about the sets, extras and all the details surrounding the actors and the story they inhabit. It's not as if these weren't important elements before, but now it seems like they are being more meticulously crafted. I think calling 3D a revolutionary technology that could change the face of cinema and storytelling is definitely hyperbolic, but I like how Scorsese has illustrated it's made him more aware of his visuals and how his moving canvas is shown to audiences.

As for the story of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which follows a 12-year-old orphan named Hugo who finds himself living in a train station, and still dedicated to his late father's ambition to solve the mystery of a broken robot, Scorsese had something to say about that as well:

"It's really the story of a little boy, but he does become friends with the older Georges Méliès who was discovered in 1927, or 1928, working in a toy store, completely bankrupt. And then he was revived in a way, with a beautiful gala in 1928, in Paris. And in my film, the cinema itself is the connection – the automaton, the machine itself becomes the emotional connection between the boy, his father, Méliès, and his family. It's about how it all comes together, how people express themselves using the technology emotionally and psychologically. It's the connection between the people, and the thing that's missing – how it supplies what's missing."

The thought of an adaptation of a children's book in the hands of Martin Scorsese was enticing in itself, but hearing how deep he's invested in the material is even more exciting. Combine that with the prospect of seeing how Scorsese handles something like 3D, a technological device that has quickly divided film-goers around the world, and it sounds like The Invention of Hugo Cabret could really make quite a splash. Maybe Scorsese is one of the few filmmakers who will have audiences rethinking 3D. For the entire interview complete with more talk from Scorsese about his career and approach to filmmaking, head on over to The Guardian. What do you think?

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  • Al
    "We see in 3D." Well technically yes, but when I see, everything is proportionately in 3D. Unlike in movies where one object pops out, or a few objects pop out yet the rest of the frame remains 2D. Until every single on the screen is proportionately layered in accordance with everything else on screen for every single frame, 3D is just not as close to real life as 2D. Roger Ebert put it best by saying that part of the fun of a film is to convince yourself that its really happening, no matter how insane or far fetched the plot, what we are seeing can be seen. Yet objects hurling popping out of the screen ruin the illusion.
  • Geoff
    @#1 WTF are you babbling about? The only difference between 3D and what we see is that in 3D we can't change the focus...it's all determined by the camera or how the scene was rendered. You can achieve the same "pop out" effect with your own eyes by simply focusing on the object you wish to "pop out".
  • Al
    Thats not what I was "babbling about" though, Geoff. What I am talking about has nothing to do with focus. It has to do with when I look at a tree in front of a house in front of a background, the tree isn't the only thing that should be in 3D, the house should be as well. Now apply this same logic to lots of people and objects in one frame. Everything should proportionately push out from the screen, or nothing should. Picking and choosing is not how real life works. In real life it all spills out, yet in the films most things are left flat, while only a few objects are given the "3D" treatment. See thats the beauty of 2D. There is a thing called depth of field that allows me to determine the distance between all the objects, thus creating an illusion of real life. But when a technician says, "Now this person will push out of the screen" Well that creates a funky image, because in real life not just one or several objects are in 3D. Every bit of everything is. This is why 2D is actually closer to 3D.
  • andy
    Al, I think you're referring to the type of 3D that Scorsese calls a gimmick. If a movie is shot in 3D like this one, or "Avatar", it is in perspective. There isn't a time when just one thing pops out. It's more like you're in the room with the characters or in the forest with them. Real 3D movies are amazing.
  • Xerxex
    3-D is-IS a useless gimmick, its nothing more than a distraction.
  • quijibo
    does anyone else think Xerxex is a bit of a jerk? all the comments i see labelled "Xerxex" seem to be extremely jerk-like, or jerk-related... jerk-ish
  • huh
    While 3D is a "gimmick" it is also "neat". I don't understand the negative reaction people have to 3D. I am not usually one to use platitudes like the one coming up but no one makes anyone see a movie in 3D. So why then do so many people want to bash it like their theater only shows movies in 3D?
  • Xerxex
    I'm not attacking fans of 3-D quijibo, I just hate 3-D used in Cinema. If I come off as a jerk its not my intention...I try to be as optimistic as possible on this site...well not if it caters to 3-D...I just hate it, it adds nothing to a film and detracts the viewer from the film, IMO.
  • germs
    Hard to believe the man who did Goodfellas and Taxi Driver is fusing around with 3D. What am I suppose to do when a legend like Scorsese uses such bad logic to support it? I'd love to see how he fits the 3D glasses over those goggles of his.
  • sealz
    I attended a seminar the other week held by Andrew Woods (co-chair of the annual Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference in LA) on stereo 3D. Was amazing to see that even scenes from Avatar had vertical alignment issues (mis-match between cameras), I don't remember them in the movie but that's probably because of all the imagery that had my attention. Andrew pointed out that stereo if done properly, it should just be the same process as us seeing scenery in real life. I think the key really is for DP's to let go of shallow depth of field and let our eyes do the wandering, and most importantly get those bloody 3D cameras aligned so we don't walk out with a headache!
  • Al
    Andy, But I'm not even talking about converted to 3D as opposed to shot in 3D. Personally, I found Avatar did exactly what I am complaining about as well. Granted, it is the closest to what I would be looking far, its no cigar. All stick with 2D thank you. As for quijibo's attack on Xerxex, I dont see how calling 3D a gimmick and a distraction makes him a jerk. Its just his opinion, he isn't harassing anybody for liking it or demonizing their opinion, hes just speaking for himself. I think what its really just that some people can't stand the fact that there are people out there who just don't care for 3D.
  • cheezy c
    i totally agree with Xerxex, 3-D is just a lazy way to try to make a movie good. movies shouldn't be about A list actors or special effects and defiantly not 3-D. it's about being able to tell a good story, being an incredible actor, and keep the audience intrigued the whole time. you don't need to drool all over your favorite actor and say it was good. u don't need to be moved by the special effects to say it was good, and you defiantly don't need 3-D to get in the way of your movie.
  • I want Mean Streets in 3D, it will totally add to it.
  • Xerxex
    Hear, hear cheezy c!
  • lando
    I think the successful use of 3d is really up to the director. Scorcese has more than proven himself in terms of movies so for him to come in and approach it from a story telling point of view excites the hell out of me! I hated Crapatar, but am VERY interested in what a TRUE STORYTELLER can do with this technology. He has yet to disappoint.
  • lando
    Oh and Scorcese handling a film with a legendary character like Melies??? cant wait!!!! PS: Fck Edison!
  • Cracky
    Hmm. Scorsese is in love with his work and literally has a fetish for film. He devotes so much of himself to his projects and this is why his films are so damn good. There's not a lot to be said about the "gimmicks" or "real 3D blah blah bullshit"-- he just wants it to work on a level that makes this just plain excellent. And he will. Just quiet down and wait.
  • Scorsese… not good since Goodfellas
    I believe Hollywood would do better to concentrate on higher quality screenplays and fresh stories than putting most of their creative energy into gimmicks like 3D.

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