2012-4-12 14:27:00作者:佚名来源:转载查看评论0条)字号:


If Jack Dawson shines up like a new penny, as Molly Brown says of the suddenly tuxedoed young hero of 'Titanic,' James Cameron's 3-D release of the 1997 meta-mega-hit shines up like gold bullion.

Until now, the process of 3-D conversion─adding the illusion of depth after a film has been shot in conventional 2-D─has mainly been a marketing ploy, a way to raise ticket prices in exchange for a less-than-uplifting experience. But Mr. Cameron has raised the process itself to the level of transformation. As a technological tour de force, his 3-D 'Titanic' is constantly astonishing and sometimes magical. More than that, though, this version has deepened and enriched a film that was already rich in emotions and remarkable for its depth of detail.

There's no way to separate the new technical aspects from the movie's intrinsic pull, and that's a good thing; if there were, we'd be talking about mere trickery. Jack's shouting 'I'm the king of the world!' from his perch on the prow was endearing 15 years ago; now it's even more so, thanks to the passage of time─Leonardo DiCaprio looks so touchingly young─as well as to the addition of a virtual dimension. The below-decks dance was joyous when Rose and Jack did it way back when; now there's a heightened sense of strong bodies leaping and whirling in vividly crowded steerage quarters that signal, more eloquently than before, the vast distance between the Titanic's social classes.

'I want to cry already,' a young girl sitting next to me at a sneak preview said to her friend when the first archival shots of the ship filled the screen. Cry she did, but will her tears be the first tricklings of a global flood? A huge cohort of kids has grown up without ever seeing 'Titanic' on a big screen; this release may come as a revelation.

On the other hand, the intervening years have brought sweeping changes to the movie business, almost all of them in the direction of accelerated pace, fragmented narrative, toxic irony and the mindless impact of explosions, car crashes and the like. It's possible that some of 'Titanic's' passages before the collision with the iceberg will strike contemporary audiences as too leisurely, and that today's kids will be impatient, as swoony fans in 1997 were not, with such borderline caricatures as Billy Zane's despicable Cal (not to mention Kathy Bates's volcanic Molly), or such sweetly sappy moments as the one in which Jack, surveying the chaos around him, declares earnestly, 'This is bad!' It's even possible that contemporary moviegoers, steeped in the excesses of computer-generated imagery, will find Mr. Cameron's elegant 3-D conversion insufficiently excessive, since it doesn't hurl solid objects or anything else in the audience's face.

I'd like to believe, though, that the conversion's main value will be to serve─as technology always should─the essential elements of the film's success, and that those elements are still potent. 'Titanic' was, and remains, a pop-cultural prodigy of unabashed romanticism and unsurpassed spectacle that plays out brilliantly between indispensable bookends in which the aged Rose of the present connects us to the radiant Rose of the past.

At the same time, the new technology─or the existing technology that's been used to new effect by a masterly technician who's also a formidable artist─may be a game-changer in its own right. The history of resurgent 3-D, an earlier version of which had a brief heyday in the 1950s, turns on two relatively recent releases. One of them, Mr. Cameron's sensationally successful 'Avatar,' showed that 3-D could be great, but established the principle, or so we thought, that the only authentic 3-D was so-called native 3-D─the process of shooting a film from the outset with two cameras and two lenses. The other, a hapless piece of pseudo-mythology called 'Clash of the Titans,' was shot in two dimensions, then hastily bumped up by computer finaglings of such crudity as to establish the principle, or so we thought, that 3-D conversions were to be avoided at all box-office costs.

Now Mr. Cameron himself has sent conventional wisdom packing. How he did it is beyond my comprehension, though his secret must have been some alchemy of supercomputers and superb taste. What's for sure, though, is that conversion stands, beginning this week, as a thoroughly reputable alternative to native 3-D. For some filmmakers, it's even the preferred way to go. I say that on the basis of an enlightening conversation earlier this week with Barry Sonnenfeld, who was a cinematographer (on 'Raising Arizona' and 'Big,' among others) before he became a director of such films as 'Get Shorty' and 'Men in Black.' He's currently in postproduction on 'Men in Black III,' which opens in May, and which he chose to shoot conventionally, then convert to 3-D.

Mr. Sonnenfeld emphasized the matter of choice during a lunchtime show-and-tell that included photographs of a modern 3-D camera─modern in the sense of all the things it can do, but Rube Goldberg-retro in the sense of an enormous, and enormously cumbersome, rig with ancillary gizmos piled atop gizmos like some Watts Tower of digital power. 'Before we started 'Men in Black III,'' he said, 'we did tests with native 3-D that were painfully slow. I like to work quickly. Comedy needs momentum, and native 3-D shooting is a momentum killer. It didn't make sense to choose a system that worked against the tone of the film.'

His case for conversion, as opposed to going native, went beyond convenience into artistic control. Optical issues, together with the 3-D rig's physical attributes, would have complicated or precluded the use of the 21mm wide-angle lens he favors for the visual energy it conveys. And native 3-D would have kept him from using film, his favored medium, since all current 3-D rigs record in digital video. Converting 'MiB3' in postproduction, he explained, gave him greater control of crucial functions like depth─the degree of 3-D-ness, which can't be changed once shooting starts in a native 3-D scene─and screen convergence, or the point at which the actors seem to be playing behind, within or, as he prefers, in front of the screen. I'll be eager to see the results when 'Men in Black III' makes its debut, but 'Titanic' already illustrates how these esoteric techniques can translate to art.

So many moments in Mr. Cameron's film stand out for intensified visual splendor: Kate Winslet's Rose, emerging from a car at the pier beneath the slowly rotating disc of her violet hat; Titanic's prow, jutting out from the screen above the first few rows of seats as the doomed vessel heads for the open sea; the industrial symphony of the boiler rooms, all aflame with the power of pounding pistons; undersea cameras threading their way through barnacled labyrinths that have become haunted surrounds; a panoply of spanking new decks and glittering ballrooms that, released from flatness, open out from the screen to bring us on board. And, toward the end, the downward-gazing spectacle of the ship's upended stern, a vision of horror with multitiered enhancement. In the face of this 3-D conversion, I'm a new convert.








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