Fly on the wall
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