Movie Reviews

‘Madam Butterfly 3D’: Not quite the effect

By Zul AndraMovies - 20 April 2012 3:34 PM | Updated 3:46 PM

‘Madam Butterfly 3D’: Not quite the effect

Butterfly (played by Liping Zhang) and B.F. Pinkerton (James Valenti) in 'Madam Butterfly 3D'.

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Cast: Liping Zhang, James Valenti, Daniel Grice, Anthony Michaels-Moore

The Buzz: Performed by London’s Royal Opera House the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s classical opera is given a 3D makeover.

The Story: Set in Nagasaki, Japan, a Japanese geisha (known simply as Butterfly) falls in love with Lieutenant Pinkerton, an American naval officer.  Their marriage is viewed as a casual affair from him, but for her, it means renouncing both family and religion. thinks: Liping Zhang is in the “zone” as Butterfly. Breathtakingly beautiful and resonating the melodies of an angel, she plays her role next to perfect. James Valenti complements Zhang briliantly. However, sporadic Royal Opera House branding throughout the film does feel like a cheap shot.

The music evokes the operatic-self within viewers. The wayfaring pitches – from its escalation to its subtle demise— tugs the heartstrings even from the best of us. It is a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and the ultimate betrayal played through arias, duets, trios and choruses. But Puccini’s opera somehow doesn’t work for cinema, let alone in 3D – much of the opposite is true.

Perhaps it is in a theatre’s limitation that allows “live” viewing to be absorbed in such a poignant and mesmerizing manner – an ownership of the artistry played, if we may. The 3D version is best for those hoping to zoom in at certain dramatic moments and also if they found themselves sitting right at the back of the actual set.

Two camps should be born out of this: True opera goers could either love the vivid details from the 3D version or loathe its accessibility that’s beyond their control. The other camp is those who have never been to an opera. The 3D value might tinker them to do so.

Viewers might tend to forget that the film was actually recorded in front of a “live” audience. And as such, the intensity and energy of the theatre is missing. However beautiful the 3d Madam Butterfly may look, it thoroughly misses its dynamic effect.