FILM TECHNOLOGY TOOKANOTHER leap forward this week with the announcement of special “2D” glasses that convert 3D films into an amazing unblurred 2D experience. The relentless march of technology never ceases to amaze me.
Gadget site Red Ferret announced this stunning new development, explaining how the cunningly designed glasses block one of the two images projected onto the screen in a bog-standard 3D film and convert it into glorious flat-o-vision.
This gave me an idea for an even better technology in which both lenses of the glasses are replaced by black cardboard. Films would be rendered in zero-D, instantly improving the vast majority of them.
Avatar, for example. It was Avatar’s hype that brought 3D back into fashion and yet it would be so much better in zero-D. I only went to it because I thought it was a documentary on the incarnations of Vishnu.
(This might sound like utter nonsense but this sort of thing happens to me all the time. When I was working in Porirua and commuting from the Hutt Valley, one of my workmates had a meeting to go to and asked me the best way to get to Avalon. At the time I was reading Foucault’s Pendulum and my head was full of esoteric religious nonsense. I thought he meant Avalon the Celtic paradise. It never occurred to me that he wanted to go to Avalon the suburb in Lower Hutt. I looked at him for a moment and said, “You can’t just go there - you have to be a Celtic warrior and die in battle.” He stared at me for an even longer moment and then backed off to ask someone who wasn’t utterly batshit crazy.)
True story. Anyway, Avatar.
Avatar is an action-adventure movie in which a group of humans, called “Americans,” invade a foreign planet populated by a peace-loving people known as “the Arabs” to steal an unobtainable mineral called “oil.” They blow up a tree and the star of the film turns blue (that bit at least was Hindu god-like) and goes native. I think that’s what happened. I was asleep for a lot of it and, if I’d had the benefit of the zero-D glasses, I might have been able to sleep through a bit more of it and really put that three hours to good use.
Even with my sporadic wakefulness it was quite clear that the film had a message to ram home. Americans are nasty and they shouldn’t blow up trees that belong to other people, even if those people speak another language and look like ten-foot tall smurfs. Director James Cameron explained that the film was in fact very patriotic because it’s patriotic to slag off your own country if your own country is crap. Or something. I was asleep during that interview too, with good reason.
Cameron also said, “We know what it feels like to launch the missiles. We don’t know what it feels like for them to land on our home soil.” Except for that one time when some guys stole some Boeing 767s and crashed them into American landmarks killing thousands. Admittedly, if Cameron can’t remember that event then the last decade of American foreign policy probably looks belligerent.
Not that the War on Terror hasn’t got a stupid name, and hasn’t at times descended into a shambles, but Americans aren’t just crashing around the world to steal oil or to kill people for fun. They are primarily, if not always directly, trying to prevent another 9/11.
Fortunately, the message of moral equivalence hasn’t sunk in. That much was clear in the jubilant scenes on Tuesday night, when we heard that US Navy Seals had delivered Osama bin Laden the bullets he so richly deserved - something that many of us were happy to see with or without special glasses.
Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column appears here every Thursday. Except when it doesn’t