ABOUT STEREOSCOPIC CINEMA

The last Essay to be written by

C. M. EISENSTEIN

(EXTRACTION)

...To doubt that stereoscopic cinema has its tomorrow is also naive, how to doubt whether there will be tomorrow at all.

... But why are we so certain of this?

Because, in my view, the only vital varieties of art are those which, of their very nature, are an embodiment of the hidden urges existing in the depths of human nature itself. What matters is not only which subject is incorporated in a work of art, but also which of the means peculiar to a given art form are employed.

...Can it be said that the principle of three-dimensional cinematography responds as fully and as consistently to certain of our deeper needs, to some kind of latent urges?

Further, can be affirmed that, in its striving for the realisation of these latent needs, mankind has for centuries been moving forwards stereoscopic cinema, as to one of the most complete and immediate expressions of such strivings - strivings which, at different stages of social development and of the developments in the means of artistic expression, in different and incomplete ways, yet invariably persistently - were attempts to realise some such latent need?

... Stereoscopic cinema gives a complete illusion of the tree-dimensional character of the object represented.

And this illusion is as completely convincing, as free from the slightest shadow of a doubt, as is the fact in ordinary cinematography that the objects depicted on the screen are actually moving. And the illusion of space in one instance and of movement in the other is as unfailing for those who know perfectly well that, in one case, we are looking at a rapid succession of separate, motionless phases which represent a complete process of movement, and in the other, at nothing more that a cunningly devised process of super imposing one upon the other of two normal flat photographic records of the same object, which taken simultaneously at two slightly different, independent angles.

In each case the space and the movement is compellingly convincing, just as the personages in a film seem undeniably authentic and living, trough we know quite well that they are no more than pale shadows, affixed by photochemical means on to kilometres of gelatine ribbon which, rolled on to separate reels, and paced into flat thins, travels from one end of the globe to another, giving spectators everywhere the same compelling illusion of their vitality.

... Of course, not in any other art - throughout the whole of its history - can there be an instance so dynamic and so perfect of volume being transfused into space, and space into volume, both penetrating into each other, existing simultaneously , and this within the process of real movement.

... A place must be prepared in consciousness for the arrival of new themes which, multiplied by the possibilities of new techniques, will demand new aesthetics for the expression of these new themes in the marvelous creations of the future.

(Translation by Catherine de la Roche.)

The Penguin Film Revue, 8

Penguin Books,

London, 1949