Fly on the wall

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

U2 3D Di­rected by Catherine Owens and Mark Pelling­ton Gen cert, lim re­lease, 85 min

THE UK Film Coun­cil is host­ing a dis­cus­sion in Lon­don this af­ter­noon on the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by 3D cin­ema. The in­vi­ta­tion to the event makes the ar­rest­ing claim that “3D is likely to be the most sig­nif­i­cant change in cin­ema since the ad­vent of colour”.

In fact, there were 3D movies be­fore the ad­vent of colour, and the process has been em­ployed spo­rad­i­cally down the decades, most of­ten as a gim­mick. Those pro­duc­tions were shot with ana­log film cam­eras, and they can­not com­pare on any level with the so­phis­ti­cated use of mul­ti­cam­era dig­i­tal 3D in the ex­hil­a­rat­ing con­cert film that is U2 3D.

The movie so vividly cap­tures the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing up at the front – and at times, even on the stage – for an ex­u­ber­ant live con­cert that the re­sult is, to quote a U2 song not fea­tured in the movie, even bet­ter than the real thing. Seiz­ing upon the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the state-of-theart tech­nol­ogy at their dis­posal, the film-mak­ers plunge the viewer deep inside the in­fec­tious at­mos­phere of watch­ing a great live band in con­cert.

Seam­lessly edited, and en­hanced with mul­ti­chan­nel sur­round sound, the film fea­tures footage shot dur­ing the South Amer­i­can leg of the band’s 2006 Ver­tigo tour (in Mex­ico City, São Paulo, San­ti­ago and Buenos Aires) to cre­ate a unique au­dio­vi­sual ex­pe­ri­ence. It dis­penses with such stock fea­tures of con­cert movies as in­ter­views and back­stage fly-on-the-wall ma­te­rial, and af­ter a brief open­ing se­quence fol­low­ing fans as they race through the turn­stiles to their seats, it gets down to busi­ness.

Bono leads U2 through their great­est hits as swoop­ing cam­eras shoot the band from a range of an­gles, fol­low­ing the singer as he struts across the vast set with its long, wind­ing cat­walk, and po­tently us­ing over­head shots to show Larry Mullen jnr at his drum kit from a per­spec­tive never seen be­fore.

There are mo­ments when Bono reaches his hand out so close that you imag­ine you could shake it, or when he looks likely to prod you in the eye with a mic stand, and when the neck of Adam Clay­ton’s gui­tar seems to jut out of the screen. When on-screen au­di­ence mem­bers climb onto each other’s shoul­ders, you in­stinc­tively move your head for a bet­ter view.

There is a re­mark­able sense of in­ti­macy, par­tic­u­larly on the slower tracks (One, Pride, Miss Sara­jevo, With or With­out You), and there’s the strong temp­ta­tion to go danc­ing in the aisles, which I’m sure is not al­lowed in cine­mas, when the band whips the au­di­ence into a frenzy on Sun­day Bloody Sun­day, Beau­ti­ful Day, New Year’s Day and Ver­tigo.

To­wards the end of the clos­ing cred­its, co-di­rec­tor Catherine Owens ded­i­cates the film to her brother, Conor Owens, who co-founded the Dublin Event Guide and died in 1993.

The best seats in the house: U2 3D

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