To have an emotional reaction to anything you have to be there, ‘in the moment’, giving yourself over to the experience. If you’re distracted you’re not really present and no matter how hard you try, you will not enjoy it as much.
That is my problem with 3D cinema. Until today.
I’ve seen a few films in 3D, but rather than enhancing the experience, the effect usually detracts. I put most of this down to being a regular wearer of glasses, over which the 3D ones have to be placed. They never quite fit and leave the screen slightly out of focus, which adds eye strain. So if there is a choice I’ll go for the regular 2D version.
However, as it is school half-term and I have a couple of days off, we have been to the National Media Museum in Bradford. In the process I ticked off something that could have quite easily been on my list of 40 in the year of 40 quests.
I’ve written before about my love of the cinema and I am part way into a blogging challenge for 2012 that involves going more often and writing about the experience. Today’s trip was a little more ‘spur of the moment’ though; an addition to the expected entries.
The National Media Museum, previously known as the National Museum of Film Photography and Television, opened in 1983. Its most distinguishing feature then and now is Britain’s first IMAX screen – five storeys high, with terrific sound. It has to be done. So why did it take me nearly 30 years? Well, probably for the reasons above.
The actual film filled the screen
We arrived shortly after the museum opened, which was a very good idea. They have a Moshi Monsters exhibition for half-term that has clearly been very successful, so much so that by the time we left, three hours later, the queue was snaking down the street. Fortunately for us, the boys decided to let their monsters slowly starve a few months ago, so they were quite happy to head straight into the IMAX before we saw the rest that was on offer.
The museum currently has three different 3D films during the day. We chose to watch the one about the Hubble telescope, what it has recorded, and the NASA missions to launch and maintain it. Put simply, it was stunning.
We were taken through the astronauts’ preparations, the footage that they shot in space and the many stars, galaxies and nebulas that have been captured. For the first time, I had the full 3D experience. The screen is so large and the glasses so accommodating that I sat there and really felt the screen come to life. There were no gimmicks trying to jump out at me, or scare me. The effect was just there, glorious and believable. When the shuttle blasted its way up through the atmosphere, I was taken aback. I was present. I squeezed Jacob’s hand and noticed that he was trying to touch the stars. His jaw had dropped.
The film lasted for roughly 45 minutes, which was enough. The other exhibitions awaited and we needed to explore. We had a good time discovering the story of television and photography, with the children particularly liking the interactive sections. An all round success. I think we’ll be back at some point for another film.
Ironically though, it is even more likely that I will avoid other 3D films in smaller auditoria. They just won’t be as good and I know I won’t really be there.
Not knowing Bradford, we had an unsuccessful walk around the city centre looking for somewhere to eat. It was tempting to think ill of the place, but I know this was just a lack of local knowledge. I hope a few of the Bradfordians I know will point me in the right direction (walking distance from the museum please!), before we go back.
A gold star if you can name this chap ...