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Scorsese rousingly endorses 3-D, says holograms next

November 6, 2011 |  1:25 pm


Some Oscar-winning auteurs are ambivalent about 3-D; some are cautiously enthusiastic.

Then there's Martin Scorsese.

The helmer behind gritty crime stories including "The Departed," and "Mean Streets" says that not only is 3-D the future of storytelling, but that he also hopes the movies over the next few years will become ever-more interactive. Like, hologram-interactive.

"As I sit here now, I see you in 3-D," the director behind the upcoming "Hugo" told an audience in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. "So why belittle that part of our existence? Why not use it? "

Scorsese said that he expected 3-D to be just the first step in 21st century cinematic storytelling. "If everything moves along and there's no major catastrophe were headed toward holograms," he said, adding, "They do it in theater," citing how an actor might walk into the audience while in character. "You have to think that way. Don't let the fashion and the economics inhibit you."

While big-budget storytellers such as James Cameron and Peter Jackson have embraced 3-D, the format has yet to receive this kind of endorsement from an old-school dramatist like Scorsese.

Scorsese made the comments during the question-and-answer session of the Los Angeles premiere screening of "Hugo," his Paris-based, (and 3-D) coming-of-age story based on Brian Selznick's novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."  Set in the late 1920s, "Hugo" tells of the titular orphan (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a train station, his relationship with a new friend (Chloe Moretz) and an adventure that leads him to the early cinema pioneer Georges Melies, depicted here as a kind of tragic figure.

The holiday hopeful opens Thanksgiving weekend, and it announced itself in a big way on Saturday when it played at L.A. Live. After a successful screening of the unfinished film at the New York Film Festival last month, "Hugo" delighted the crowd here and earned Scorsese a standing ovation when he took the stage afterward with the technical team that helped him make the movie.

Still, "Hugo" will have its work cut out for it. It joins a group of heavy-hitting family-friendly films, including some with big names, (Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on "The Adventures of Tintin") and some with big money and expectations ("Happy Feet Two," "Arthur Christmas").

How audiences will react to all of them -- and how they will stack up against one another -- remains one of the fall's most fraught questions, and could, in "Hugo's" case, help influence whether studios in the coming years will gamble by lavishing big, 3-D-size budgets on literate, non-franchise properties.

(The stakes, incidentally, are also high for Scorsese, who here is making a rare foray outside his streetwise adult dramas. The last time he went that far outside his sweet spot was nearly 20 years ago with "The Age of Innocence." How this movie performs could go a long way in determining how bright the future is for a certain kind of director in this family-friendly cinema age.)

"Hugo" is a whimsical tale centered on the early days of moviemaking -- an element that best-picture contender "The Artist" also knows a little something about. In a best-case scenario for the film, the two could even create something of a mini-zeitgeist, with one helping the prospects of the other among Oscar voters.

Scorsese acknowledged that his new movie, both because of the z-axis and the decision to tell the story from the point of view of a child, wasn't an easy one to shoot. "Yes, it was a headache," Scorsese told the audience. "But it was a really enjoyable headache." He added, "Every facet was a rethinking of how to make pictures."

The director said he was moved by Selznick's film-preservation angle (through his World Cinema Foundation, Scorsese has made the locating and restoring of rare prints a pet cause) as well as by his daughter, who's about to turn 12. "Being with her every day," he said, "I started to perceive the world differently."


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Scorsese's unfinished "Hugo" shows 3-D's promise for NYFF crowd

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield in "Hugo." Credit: Paramount Pictures