Many, many people think that this is just brilliant. Probably has something to do with the drawn-out, ‘epic’ soundtrack or grandiose tracking shots, or the fact that it’s entirely CG. Yes — that’s right: entirely CG. More on Alex Roman’s The Third and the Seventh (including a poll on your thoughts on the film!) after the break.
So I’ll start by simply saying that the craftsmanship that went into this film is rather tremendous. (Don’t believe me that this is all CG? Check this out.)
But hard work doesn’t always yield great results, and this, unfrotunately, is one of those cases. The film, through the set-up of an old camera and its many shots of famed, empty buildings — you may notice works by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, among others, here — examines architecture through a purely visual standpoint. It ignores the nexus between form and function, opting instead to dwell on only form.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem here is that the examination of form is so one-dimensional. We are shown the grandest possible tracking shots of various famed architectural masterworks, with high contrast colors and epically cloudy skies, all to an overbearing orchestral soundtrack. There are certainly some visual delights here, but they are simplistic and hackneyed in their presentation.
The best analogy I have for this is the relationship between most film scores and renowned classical music. Certainly film scores capture our attention and declare their presence loudly, but they generally do not hold their own as standalone works of art. They have none of the subtlety of true classical music.
The Third and the Seventh is exactly like that. All of its shots and depictions are so calculated, so perfect, so lacking in sublety, that even if they have a rather grand, impressive quality to them, there is little depth to back it up. At best they are a complement to something else — a real holistic, nuanced understanding of the many different parts of architecture.
The use of CG to do more than just show famous buildings towards the end of the film (the books flying through Kahn’s Exeter Library, for instance) doesn’t help. The CG additions only serve to accent the film’s somber grandiosity without adding any nuance to its trite message.