artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomovies

Bruce versus Hal: Technology and art

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Shark Night, 3D came out a few months ago, you know. I saw in a preview commercial — just one time. Didn’t go out to see it. What I gathered is this: it is a movie about a night with lots and lots of sharks who come at you in 3D. Oh, and there are girls in bikinis — who, I imagine, come at you in 3D as well, but that is neither here nor there. 

It might have been a great movie (though I doubt it).  

God knows that making a shark movie must be a guaranteed ulcer for any self-respecting director, in the shadow of Jaws. I mean, I value my life quite a bit, but I am sure that if my second chance to score a film were on a project about a shark, I would certainly contemplate suicide. 

As I say, the movie might be good (though I doubt it). Why, you ask, do I doubt it? 

(Stephen and Bruce)

Because it has “3D” in the title, that’s why. I’m not saying 3D is necessarily bad, but it can be a crutch for a lame screenplay. Let’s face it : it’s scary to have a Great White shark torpedo into your popcorn tub on date night.

But that is so damned easy.

In 1975, Stephen Spielberg found himself on Martha’s Vineyard with a techno-shark named Bruce that barely ever worked. This, if you don’t know, is why the shark appeared so seldom in the final film. And this, as Spielberg has said, is the best thing that could have happened. He needed to rethink things and to use his inner-Hitchcock to make the film scary. What is not seen in that film is the heart of its success as a thriller. 

Can Shark Night 3D have been good? Perhaps (though I doubt it), but only if its chances of success are not piled upon the catapult of 3D technology. Innumerable dimensions can exist in two, when you really think about it, while three dimensions can be flat and lifeless.

The human heart is 3D on a flat sheet of paper, as long as it is drawn well or written well, but no one can inflate a heart-balloon with holes in it. 

Well, I just hope that we are not going the direction, in all of our cultural thinking, of believing that “more,” “faster” and “more vivid” are necessarily scarier (or more effective) than a shadow moving under the water and looking up, hungrily, at the dangling legs of unsuspecting swimmers.

Chris Matarazzo’s ARTISTIC UNKNOWNS appears every Tuesday.

Chris Matarazzo is a writer, composer, musician and teacher of literature and writing on the college and high school levels. His music can be heard on his recent release, Hats and Rabbits, which is currently available. Chris is also the composer of the score to the off-beat independent film Surrender Dorothy and he performs in the Philadelphia area with the King Richard Band. He's also a relatively prolific novelist, even if no one seems to care yet. His blog, also called Hats and Rabbits, is nice, too, if you get a chance...
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2 Responses to “Bruce versus Hal: Technology and art”

  1. Thanks for the new interpretation of Jaws, about how, ” What is not seen in that film is the heart of its success as a thriller. ”
    And if, as you put it,
    ” Well, I just hope that we are not going the direction, in all of our cultural thinking, of believing that “more,” “faster” and “more vivid” are necessarily scarier (or more effective) than a shadow moving under the water and looking up, hungrily, at the dangling legs of unsuspecting swimmers,”
    ….if that is an Artistic Unknown, well then I don’t know what isn’t.

  2. Hey, Gracchus– way to catch the naked, flag-waving sarcasm.

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