Call me a curmudgeon, but most of these new 3D films give me a headache. Fortunately, with a little help from a resurgence of the New German Cinema, 3D is back and better than ever. Between Werner Herzog’s recent parlay into the third dimension with his documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Wim Wenders’ Pina, these giants of German cinema have proven that those dopey little glasses aren’t just for the likes of James Cameron anymore.
No more must 3D be synonymous with fireballs shooting out of the big screen and high-speed space ship chases, both Herzog and Wenders use the technology to capture depth and create a rich, textural experience onscreen. With only a three-man crew, Herzog manages to reveal 32,000 year old cave paintings in his 2010 film with an astounding beauty that is certainly enhanced by the technology. Wenders’ Pina explores the contemporary choreographies of Russian-born dancer Pina Bausch. In their own right, Bausch’s dances are complex and allegorical, but Wenders takes it a step beyond. In the dance “Le Sacre du Printemps,” a layer of peat coats the stage. As the dancers begin to move, this peat becomes airborn with Wender’s capturing both the dirt and action so clearly that the audience can’t help but feel involved in the motion.
If anything, 3D should enveloped the viewer in a film, and the light-touch and finesse of these filmmakers does allow audience members to feel organically involved. (Somehow, those high-octane action sequences from other directors just don’t feel ‘organic.’) Who knows what the future of 3D will look like or if its popularity will last. But as long as directors keep making films like Pina or Cave of Forgotten Dreams, maybe this whole technology thing isn’t so bad after all.