What if The Hobbit in 48 fps is the first movie you see?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first theatrical movie release ever with a framerate of 48 frames per second (only with 3D screenings, though). There have been a lot of diametrically opposite opinions about whether this 48 fps thing is any good. Certainly tons of negative reactions.
And, honestly, I was weirded out at first too. It took about 15 minutes before I got used to the high framerate. But, ultimately I got into the movie and enjoyed it immensely. Although it certainly was a different movie-watching experience, I kinda liked it. It felt a bit like theatre, with awesome sets on stage and multiple viewing angles. And, interestingly enough, I hadn’t had any problems with 3D making my head explode (which is my usual reaction to watching movies in 3D). That’s definitely a plus. But, would I watch the movie in high framerate again? And my answer to that is… Maybe. I don’t know. Certainly not before I see it in traditional 24 fps. But.
Here’s the thing: we have been conditioned our whole lives to associate theatrical movies with 24 fps. That’s what a movie-going experience is for us. Our comfort zone, just like Bag End is Bilbo Baggins’ comfort zone. Outside of it, we can feel uneasy, distracted, and have our enjoyment ruined. Which is why it is totally understandable that a lot of people are not willing to accept the high framerate. Ironic, considering that the movie is about the main character setting out in the unknown and leaving his comfort zone.
But what if The Hobbit in 48 frames per second is the first movie a child ever sees in theatres? He doesn’t have a defined movie experience yet, he won’t think about how it’s unusual that things on the screen are clearer and move more smoothly with less blur and all that analytical crap. There is no ‘usual’ yet. That child is going to be totally engrossed into the world of Middle-Earth, captivated by Bilbo’s adventures, cheering for Thorin and Company when they get out of the frying-pan and worrying for them after they get into the fire. That movie is going to define what the child considers a traditional experience. And I’m afraid that because of the general populace’s discontent with the high framerate, that child is never going to experience the movies that way outside of The Hobbit ever again.
It’s all kind of poetic, really. This whole 48 fps thing is the Unexpected Journey that we, just like Bilbo, may not feel comfortable about. And you know what? If I have a chance to see the next two instalments of The Hobbit in high framerate, I’m going to take it, because I don’t want to abandon this journey midway. Not to mention that The Hobbit itself is really Bilbo Baggins of the movie world. That weird seemingly respectable hobbit, that just ran out of the blue into some foolish adventure. I only hope that this ‘Bilbo’ is going to have a ‘Frodo’, somebody who is inspired by what his old uncle has done and goes on even a greater adventure. Well, there are also Tooks, they like adventures too, but that’s not the point. The point is, I think the most important thing for us right now is to not become Sackville-Bagginses, those mean and generally unlikeable hobbits that pester Bilbo and Frodo whenever they can. Because, really, even if you don’t like the experience that high framerate provides, please don’t ruin the magic for those who are captivated by it.