With his Academy Award nominated hit Life of Pi, and his current film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, both making the most of the 3D format through their production and release cycles, it stands to wonder if director Ang Lee will ever make a film in 2D again. It's an important question, as fellow prestige directors Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese have both experimented with 3D themselves, but don't seem to have committed to the extent that Lee has, especially on the technical end.
So wondering if he would return to a world of films without a third dimensional presence was a natural subject that came up while we were speaking with the director during the 2016 New York Film Festival's exhibition of Billy Lynn, and upon asking Lee if he was intending to stick to the 3D realm, he offered the following reply:
If I'm allowed to, both by the potential audience and the investors, I'll continue to search. Because this has just happened to me. One answer opened up ten questions. I'm curious. I would like to make more [3D movies] for now.
Much like fellow 3D visionary James Cameron, Ang Lee seems to be obsessed with the technical possibilities when it comes to 3D filmmaking. It definitely shows through Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, as the 120 frames-per-second / 4K 3D version of the film is extremely beautiful to look at. For those of you worrying that Lee will forgo his obsession with storytelling, merely in the name of playing with some exciting new toys, that most definitely isn't the case, especially when you hear the director talk about why he used the cutting edge format to tell the story of a young man returning from war, and how he sees the world.
While the 120 FPS format is beautiful, it definitely is a jarring experience for those who aren't used to the High Frame Rate format. The stark contrast of the extremely crisp imagery versus that of a typical 24 FPS film was an intentional effect that Ang Lee used to exhibit the following thematic elements:
You have a young innocent boy that's a soldier, you have the half time show to glorify his heroic act, and you have, in his head, a horrific war experience. Put them together, it's like heightened reality. ... It's like society is 24 FPS, and he's 120 FPS. It's a good metaphor for the reality of the soldier.
Considering Lee's next film just might be the "Thrilla in Manilla" project depicting that very legendary bout between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, his technical and storytelling fascination with 3D films certainly doesn't look to be waning. Which is a good thing, as Ang Lee is one of the most visionary voices in the 3D filmmaking community to date, particularly with his envelope-pushing usage of the technology with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. If 120 FPS / 4K 3D can make a personal story of war, heroism, and returning home to a world you barely recognize, then the action and drama in the Ali / Frazier biopic is a natural fit as one of the next steps to be taken in 3D films. Here's a clip of our conversation with Ang Lee:
You can judge for yourself this weekend, as Billy Flynn's Long Halftime Walk opens this Friday in New York and Los Angeles, in beautiful 120 FPS / 4K 3D. Stick around throughout this week, as we'll be running more content in anticipation of Ang Lee's latest cinematic event.