Way back when, I think it was in 1995, I visited Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Part of this fun day out was taking part in a 3D I-maxed version of the – if I remember correctly – Back to the Future movie. What I can remember, after standing in line forever to get in, was, that the viewers were seated in individual car frames on some hydraulic machinery. As soon as I saw the compound, I got worried. I don’t really like confined spaces in the dark. These vehicles were obviously designed to move, to give a sensual feedback on the optical impact. I get sick at the back of a regular car, as soon as there are some bends, so I wasn’t too keen on watching a movie from the seat of a car moving through time. Prompted by my more adventurous compagnions (husband and brother-in-law, both fearless Scots), who both laughed at my worries, I climbed in, nevertheless, and the movie started. Two minutes later, the adventure stopped for me. As there was a plunge into fire depicted, with the visuals indicating, that I was speeding down the crater of a volcano through fire toward a furnace at 200 km per hour, the sound raising hell proper. Fireballs occasionally targeting us on the way down, our containers bumped and swayed, to escape being bombed just so. At the very start of this plunge, my stomach was already moving up through my gullet. I battled it down, trying to fixate one of the neighbouring, hopping cars in the dark theatre, to get a perspective and convince myself, that this was not real. To no avail. Once ones senses are manipulated to such an extend, one can’t help but take it for real. So the panic was real. As was my fight to get out. I knew, what discomfort a vomitted in car causes. The stink lingers for weeks. I just about made it outside and was glad to be left alone to recuperate for as long as the show lasted. Never again was the bright Californian sun as comforting.
The rest of all the attractions that day were great. But I took away a big dislike for I-Max and 3D shows, which I avoided from then on in. Until last week. As circumstance and I were wanting to watch the new Star Wars movie in English, my sweetheart organised for tickets at the Sony Center O-version cinema. To top it all off, he opted for the 3D show. I put the glasses on, and was immediately back in that car in LA, when the first plane shot from the screen, flying a curve directly into my sweetheart’s head. I ducked, shoved him out of danger and pulled my glasses down to exhale.
To be surprised once more. Without the glasses, the screen looked exactly like those old 3D apparatuses, where one looked through glasses onto two almost similar (then black and white) photographs, that melted into one. All the stars, that seemed to be floating in space, were just two blurred dots on the screen, once the glasses were off. So I slipped the glasses back on and enjoyed the rest of the movie. Actually, it was great fun. After a while, one lost the sensation of 3D all together, but for some close-ups, with characters conversing in front of an unnaturally blurred background. Maybe my brain flattened the image out for me, once I got the hang of it and realised, it was just a hoax on my visuals. Or else, it did the double trick: taking the 3D illusion, it was designed to be, flattening it back to what I am used to watch, when watching a movie, creating a “real” 3D vision to be believed for my brain. Just as well, the story is so sci-fy, with the context so unnatural at any rate, that I won’t really “believe” any of it. But for the sound, the light-sabers make. I know, that they sound just like those insect-frying devices called light control mosquito magnet zappers. But it remains a great sound, when the sabers are put to action and swoosh by, sizzling….