Godard and 3D

Jean-Luc Godard

“A language is a dialect plus authority.” I don’t recall who said this, but that’s what I am being reminded of by recent discussions on 3D. No doubt, 3D is and will be used as a gimmick, while at the same time, we are now witnessing it acquiring a new status, that of a sophisticated format which allows for exploring the viewers’ relation to spaces of simulated tactility. 

Among big names, Wim Wenders, Martin Scorsese, Stiven Spilberg, Ridley Scott have already done work in 3D. And now we hear that Jean-Luc Godard is shooting his new film Goodbye to Language in this format. Wenders’ Pina was the film that not only shocked huge audiences by the powers of dance, but also demonstrated the powers of 3D. As I’ve already mentioned earlier, this format is extremely demanding. The polarized-light technology responsible for creating the illusion of depth and volume is using only half the light for each eye and it’s for this reason the image is often a little too dark. Therefore, this format forces film-makers to explore new ways of working with camera and light, which affects every aspect of film-making.

To me, Wenders’ film was not just made in 3D, but it was also about 3D. Just like the gracious dances of Pina Bausch’s company were balancing their bodies to challenge the distinctions between presence and absence, as they were reaching towards the limits of virtuosity and virtuality, the 3D format itself was balancing on the border of presence and absence, challenging what the viewers referred as realness in their comments.

This is why I am very intrigued by Godard’s work with 3D: this director has never abandoned the experimental approach to film-making, based on his attention to a medium he works with: its myths, its limits, and its possible futures. Back in 2010, Godard said apropos 3D: “I always like it when new techniques are introduced. Because it doesn’t have any rules yet. And one can do everything.” So will see.