Film-lovers from all around the UK, though mostly in the Home Counties, are abuzz this week with the re-release of every single Merchant Ivory film in spellbinding 3D, including classics like A Room With A View and The Remains Of The Day.
When asked why he had gone 3D with 55 different period dramas, director 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 an Edwardian lawn can’t get any more exhilarating, wait until you see it in 3D. Honestly, it feels like you could reach out and stroke his croquet balls.’
Ivory and his producer partner Ishmail Merchant first decided on the radical move about 20 years ago. ‘We started with Howard’s End because we felt the understated, soporific Stoical interbellum estate drama really leant itself to the format. It turned out so well we just couldn’t stop. We painfully converted every film frame-by-frame. The hardest part was all those shots of Emma Thompson’s trembling lip. It made me feel very woozy and killed Ishmail outright.’
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. Ivory re-mortgaged his house 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 Mr & Mrs Bridge, I actually went into a coma and only woke up at the end of Jefferson In Paris.’
So far, the public response has been positive, with only one complaint from Barry Saunders, 82, from Watford, who was convinced he was about to get squashed by Denholm Elliot’s sideburns during a screening of A Room With A View, 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.