Back to USSR for Forgotten 3D Movies
As 3D cinema enjoys a revival with Hollywood blockbusters, an unexpected retrospective in Moscow revealed the Soviet Union began entertaining its citizens with homegrown 3D films as early as the 1940s: The Moscow Film Festival was held from 21 to 30 June 2012.
In a colour film called "In the Avenues of the Park" a young woman in a print dress stretches her hand holding a rose towards the viewer, while young men in baggy trousers stroll and schoolboys in caps run about. The crystal-clear film shows Moscow's Gorky Park in 1952, a year before Stalin died, yet the stereoscopic 3D technology similar to that now filling multiplexes makes it feel eerily current.
"In the Avenues of the Park" was shot with the "Stereo-35 frame-over-frame" system. See pictures from the film on the MIFF website.
An image from "The Concert"
"The Concert"/ "Land of Youth"
The "Concert" (also know as "Land of Youth") film was mainly black-and-white but had sections where it burst into colour -- a technique also used in Hollywood for 1939 hit "The Wizard of Oz" -- causing a sensation at the time. Among the sections shown at the festival are scenes of storks in a pond and a cockatoo swinging on a ring, set to trilling music -- somewhat short on thrills but showing off the technical possibilities of 3D. Mayorov found the negatives and sound recordings, still in a good condition, at the State Film Fund. He worked first on the black-and-white sections, and has also restored some of the more complex colour sections. He has adapted "Concert" for viewing through modern 3D glasses, at a specialised archival festival in the Moscow region last year.
"Concert" was hugely popular, showing continuously from January 14, 1941 until the outbreak of war in June that year at a specially adapted cinema.
"Half a million people watched it and only the war stopped the showings," Mayorov said. After the war, the authorities opened a new cinema for 3D films on central Ploshchad Sverdlova, now Theatre Square, gaining a new audience for more ambitious acted films. But 3D cinema never really took off like it did in the United States during its brief heyday in the 1950s and seems to have gradually faded away.
The list of 3D moies shown at the Moscow Film Festival is here.
Future Russian 3D Movies
A number of 3D films are now being produced again in Russia such the animated 2010 hit "Belka and Strelka: Star Dogs" about the two dogs from the Soviet Union who were the first animals to ever return from space.