Yesterday a friend happened to mention Cave of Forgotten Dreams on Facebook, which reminded me that I'd really wanted to see it. I had a free afternoon and there was a 12:10 showing nearby, so I was all set. When I put on my jeans, I found $17 in the pocket, which was exactly the cost of a movie ticket, a small popcorn and a bottle of water. It was fate.
The movie is an amazing look at the cave drawings and paintings at Chauvet, some of which date back 32,000 years. It also includes some commentary by scientists and visuals of the surrounding area. I can definitely understand why Werner Herzog chose to present the movie in 3D because the contours of the rocks on which the artwork was drawn are a big part of the viewing experience and the 3D adds significantly to the feeling that you are there in the cave.
However... This is where I'd like to point out that I have been completely out of the loop on the latest 3D trend. I didn't even see Avatar in 3D, much less any of the other movies that quickly jumped on that bandwagon. I can't even say that I was avoiding them deliberately, other than a general unwillingness to pay extra to see a movie that is playing in 2D elsewhere in the theater. But I'd missed the whole modern 3D experience so far.
So I got my 3D glasses and sat down. The movie started and the artwork was breathtaking, the things the scientists were learning from the depictions of prehistoric animals were really interesting, the cave bear bones covered in thousands of years of mineral accretions were fascinating, etc. It was all very cool.
Unfortunately, the longer I watched the movie, the more nauseated I felt. I'd been eating popcorn, but I could tell it wasn't the food that was the problem. The feeling subsided when the documentary focused mainly on the cave artwork itself, but it got worse on exterior shots and interview segments. I found I had to turn away from the screen during those sections of the movie. Toward the end I was even wondering if I might have to just get up and leave.
I am not generally prone to motion sickness, but it was obvious that the 3D and I were not compatible. It took at least an hour after the movie ended for my stomach to feel completely normal again.
It turns out that 3D sickness is not uncommon. From what I've read, I probably made it worse for myself by sitting too close.
I was actually quite grateful that I'd seen a sedate documentary rather than some kind of action movie. It would have been embarrassing to have barfed in front of a whole theater full of strangers.
It's easy to see that 3D is not going away, so now I'm left with the quandary of whether or not to ever attempt to see another movie in that format. It's possible that sitting further back in the theater would help, but what if it doesn't?
Have you had any bad reactions to 3D or do you consider it a wonderful frontier in movie watching?
Photo credit: Hisakazu Watanabe