The First World War in 3D
There are no surprising plot twists in a film about World War I. What makes Im Krieg worth seeing is the 3D stereoscopic images that pop out at you, catapulting you right into the trenches. Three-dimensional photographs, or stereoscopies, were a mass medium in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most well-to-do households in Europe and the USA owned a stereoscope, a device for viewing a pair of separate images as a single three-dimensional image. The First World War was the last grand event to be captured through the lenses of international photographers in stereoscopy. As the media world continued to develop – and the more sensational moving pictures, radio, and television were invented – 3D photography lay dormant. Now, with modern digital 3D cinema, it is possible to call forth the old images in a large format. Im Krieg is the first historical documentation to be presented in color and 3D.
Early stereographers recorded the great events of the time: accomplishments in aviation, coronations, North Pole expeditions, celebrations, and catastrophes. Modern stereographer and 3D filmmaker Nikolai Vialkowitsch sifted through federal archives holding the works of prominent German, French and English photographers to piece together this film. He overlays spectacular war images with a choir of superlative speakers who read diaries, letters, and post cards from the front. Voices and pictures lend an incredible immediacy to the film as they chronicle the heartache of regular people surviving during wartime. The voices speak of love and hate, of brutal killings, of deep friendships and the longing for home. Eyewitnesses describe the collapse of the world as they know it – the end of governance by monarchs, the end of belief in the good, the end of the inviolability of religion. And they allow us to witness the birth of a not-so-brave new world.
Im Krieg is a visual treat and a must-see for history and photography buffs. Those who are not necessarily either might find the film a bit long. One quality that we’ve lost over the past hundred years is our tolerance for the languid pace of introspective narrative.
Published on Kinocritics website