Coming from the movie production biz, and now in the home theater biz, I find all the commentary here fascinating.
Regarding the origin of image blur: it is native to human vision. Focus your gaze on one side of the room, then "pan" your vision briskly to the other side of the room. You won't perceive much detail in the room during the pan. The effect is not exactly a blur, but there is poor resolution during the pan.
So...should movie images be different or similar to human vision? Is the goal to emmulate human visual perception...or create an image that is more to document an event in a way that exceeds the capabilities of human vision? I contend that it depends on the subject matter (at least with regard to narrative filmmaking). Hence my earlier comparision of a fantasy movie (The Hobbit) and one set in reality (Gravity).
Other posts mention that the perceptions come from decades of conditioning. That is also true. It is conditioning by our natural vision and
what we have viewed at 24fps and on TV for decades. A lot of people can see the difference, and that perception has been a huge discussion in the professional production business since long before there were any of our advanced digital technologies.
Sometimes it is amusing how people detect and react to even aggressive frame interpolation. I was upgrading a friend's systems recently. He chose a nice Vizio display that comes with some FI enabled by default. He called me a couple of days later quite concerned about an "effect" that was bothering him. This is a fellow that has zero tech sophistication. I asked him what he was watching when he experienced this. It was a Seinfeld episode!
His low-tech eyeballs totally told him that Seinfeld (shot on film) didn't "look right" with FI. I went over and cranked down the FI, and he was happy.
PJ and all filmmakers are wise to study the perception of HFR by the viewing public. There are those who will use HFR regardless as part of an agenda to make us all accept it (non-pajorative), and those who will use it selectively
as a creative tool. Once again, that is my logic for comparision of the two movies. For me, it is a stronger case for
HFR in Gravity than a case against
HFR in The Hobbit movies. We are conditioned by TV news over decades to see an event such as in Gravity as one that we might actually see happen live or nearly so (God forbid). I think HFR could have made a profoundly greater effect on many viewers because of this and the setting in space.