The peculiar thing about this report is that I am not a rock fan, not
by a long shot. Of course, I could not be allowed to live in San Francisco
without some appreciation for the Grateful Dead, but that's about it.
When it comes to U2, I know far more about Bono's commendable social
activities than of the band's performances.
A labored preamble is necessary to put this in context: "U2 3D"
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0892375/) has simply knocked me on my
limited-crossover backside. It is a spectacular, musically and visually
superb experience, certain to enchant any classical-music fan... if only
the fan is not too fanatic to stay away. Watching it, I kept wishing for
the "Ring" to be produced with this kind of passion, commitment, hanging
ten every moment, and the creation of such stunning images. An important
added bonus: unlike other rock films, this one is not deafening, not
even in the IMAX setting.
For over a quarter-century, says the PR release, U2 has been recognized
not only for their musical innovation, but for their incomparable gift
for reaching millions of fans through new technologies. "U2 3D" - the
first digital 3-D, multi-camera, real-time production - reflects the
band's longstanding embrace of technology and its belief that "U2 3D"
has the potential to revolutionize digital 3D technology. Marrying
advanced digital 3-D imagery and 5.1 Surround Sound with the unique
excitement of a live U2 concert, "U2 3D" takes viewers on an extraordinary
cinematic journey, a quantum leap beyond traditional concert films.
Directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, "U2 3D" is a production
of 3ality Digital Entertainment starring Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton
and Larry Mullen Jr.
I would detail my rapture about the screening of this most stunning of
concert films (http://www.u23dmovie.com/), but I was pre-empted: read
Eliot Van Buskirk's report at: http://tinyurl.com/2t2jeh
With 3-D glasses trained on the Imax screen at the Luxor
Casino in Las Vegas, I felt I was experiencing more of the
U2 concert from my theater chair than I would have in person.
Chalk it up to the impossible camera angles, the breathtaking
close-ups and panoramas, or the convincing nature of the
latest 3-D technology, but I was really there: watching
guitarist-keyboardist The Edge play a Fender Rhodes from a
vantage point 4 feet above his head, seeing lead singer
Bono's hand reach out to the crowd, and flying through a
massive stadium lit up by thousands of cellphones waving
in unison like a school of glowing sea creatures. The
capacity crowds filling these South American soccer stadiums
go absolutely mad for the music of U2. Their hands wave to
the beat just a few feet in front of you. Their enthusiasm
is wildly infectious.
"Every development in the history of cinema has always been
about making the experience more realistic, whether going
from silent to talkies, or black-and-white to color," said
John Rodell, the producer I spoke with outside the theater.
"We see the world in 3-D, so this is a natural progression,
now that the technological limitations have been conquered."
The 3-D format goes a long way toward making the movie
great, but the film would not have been nearly as powerful
with the cameras pointed at most other bands. U2's musicians
are masterful performers, and the epic nature of their songs
and stage act lends itself perfectly to larger-than-life
Still, watching a movie is a passive experience; to keep
viewers fully engaged for more than an hour, Sassoon Film
Design added a smattering of clever visual effects somewhat
reminiscent of the square that Uma Thurman's character draws
in the air in `Pulp Fiction'. Post-production staffers also
added animated versions of U2's backdrop videos - most
notably a series of icons suggesting that the world's major
religions are one. To capture multiple band members in the
same frame, the filmmakers added as many as five 3-D layers
to the final cut.
Other than that, U2 3D includes little visual or audio
trickery. The band insisted that no audio overdubs be
included; every note in the film was played live (although
for on-stage close-ups, U2 agreed to be filmed playing one
show to an empty stadium). "I could make my cat sound like
a good singer with Pro Tools," said Rodell, "but we didn't
use any of that. What you see there are those guys, playing
that night, in front of 90,000 people." ...
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