Directed by Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington | 85 minutes | music, documentary | Actors: Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge
‘U2: Rattle and Hum’ from 1988: a group of young dogs on the road in the United States, recorded in a minimalist style of partly grainy black and white. ‘Zoo TV: Live from Sydney’ from 1994: an ironic and baroque show, with a bass player who was too drunk to perform the night before as a bruised artist. 2001’s ‘U2 Go Home’: the death of Bono’s father and an emotionally charged home game in Ireland. In this way the films of U2 are linked together as a historiography of the development of this band. What stage have they reached with ‘U2 3D’? U2 live is a very driven band, songs are played live with even more intensity than on CD. This also applies to ‘U2 3D’; ‘U2 3D’ contains an almost always inspired sample card of the entire oeuvre. It is striking that old tracks from ‘Boy’ and ‘October’, and the intermediate phase of ‘Zooropa’ with ‘Pop’ does not occur at all. The playlist consists of fourteen songs, from ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ as the oldest song to ‘Vertigo’. A highlight is ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’, the song that Bono sang at his father’s funeral.
Besides a real live band, U2 is a rock group with their heart in the right place. Think of songs like ‘Miss Sarajevo’ about the war in Bosnia or ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’ about the Foolish Mothers from Argentina. In ‘U2 3D’ the ‘United Nations Declaration of Human Rights’ is read. A beautiful visual find is the call to ‘Coexista’ with a crescent moon, Star of David and cross incorporated into the projected word. ‘U2 3D’ has been a success as a 3D film: the combination of 3D digital projection and special glasses with LCD panels provides an excellent 3D experience. Bono’s outstretched left arm comes very close at one point. Wanted to limit the effect to a part of the field of view with the red-green glasses, and disappear with a movement of the head, now there is a continuous 3D experience, especially with close ups. It works like this: without glasses one sees a strange double image, which contains both the information for the right and left eye. When the glasses are put on, the glasses receive a control signal from an infrared source. In this way, the glasses are able to cover the right eye and vice versa simultaneously with the projection of images intended for the left eye.
What also helps with a concert film like this, is a singing, clapping and peddling audience. Yet ‘U2 3D’ is not ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’. There are a few moments with less inspiration, especially with the close ups. Explanable in themselves, because these have been recorded separately and it makes a difference in terms of energy and passion whether you play in front of 80,000 people or in front of an empty stadium. But for fans and film buffs curious about the quality of the 3D image, this is really a ‘must see’.