Film-lovers around the UK but mainly the Home Counties are abuzz this week with the re-release of every single Merchant-Ivory film – including classics like A Room With A View and The Remains Of The Day – now in spellbinding 3D. When asked why on earth he went 3D with 55 period dramas, producer James Ivory said: “I felt it was time to reach a younger audience, like people in their 70s. If you think another shot of Anthony Hopkins gazing wistfully out of a window onto a Edwardian lawn can’t get any more exhilarating, wait until you see it in 3D. Honestly it feels like you could touch his nasal hairs!”
Ivory and his producing partner Ishmail Merchant first decided on the radical move about twenty years ago. “We started with Howard’s End because we felt the static, understated, Stoical interbellum estate drama really leant itself to the 3D format. It turned out so well we just didn’t stop. We converted every film frame-by-frame and it took about 10 years. The hardest part was all those shots of Emma Thompson’s trembling lip, which made us feel very woozy. The process actually killed Ishmail.”
There was a minor setback on the eve of the Surviving Picasso relaunch when Ivory realised his 3D process was obsolete and had to recall thousands of those plastic red/blue eyeglasses from cinemas. He re-mortgaged his Buckinghamshire estate and took hundreds of reels of film back into the editing room. “It took twice as long this time, I just kept falling asleep. About halfway through that soporific Mr & Mrs Bridge, I actually went into a coma and only woke up at the end of Jefferson In Paris.”
But not everyone is so enthusiastic. George Lucas has been outspoken in his opposition to the idea: “Look, when I re-released Star Wars Episodes 1-3 everyone said it was just to squeeze a few more bucks out of the suckers who hated the films so much they’d pay to hate them again. True as that is, the fact is my characters were so offensively 2-dimensional, they actually needed an extra dimension to stop the audience throwing up in their own laps. But the characters in Merchant-Ivory films are already well-rounded and 3-dimensional, so I fail to see how 3D could possibly improve them... I’ve heard... I don’t know, I don’t watch boring English films.”
So far the public response has been positive, with only one complaint from Barry in Watford who - during a screening of A Room With A View – was convinced he was about to get squashed by Denholm Elliot’s sideburns, freaked out and drove his mobility scooter through the screen.
Patrons are advised to check local cinemas for screening times, hearing loops, first aid and the cost of a cup of tea. Special discounts apply for care home excursions and stag parties.