On Seeing Avatar

I was able to take seven staff members out to see Avatar in 3D on opening night. It was a cold night, but we went to Ed’s Diner beforehand for burgers and fries to warm us up.

The Odeon theater for the opening was huge, and it was packed. We were seated further back than I expected, waiting for quite a while with our 3D glasses for the film to begin.

What is interesting about Avatar is that it is technically engrossing. The new equipment for doing the 3D enables even the veins in leaves to have a gentle 3D effect, and when expanded to the broad palette of the entire screen, the effect is really unique. In fact, it also feels like the future.

Leaving the theater, all eight of us were in a slight sense of awe. We hadn’t had an experience like that in a theater for awhile. I could imagine audiences in 1940 leaving Fantasia and feeling something similar. Or those experiencing the first sound pictures. Or my own parents leaving Lawrence of Arabia, and its huge panoramic vistas.

So, not a perfect film or story, but a significantly new way of making a film. Best of all, the designers of this film obviously had a field day, right down to the smallest flora and fauna of an imagined world. All in all, it makes one feel good again about the imagination that we have and the creativity we can display. It also suggests that our children may have wholly new skill sets to learn and develop careers around, if they are confident and motivated enough.

I like new ball games.

Update: I will confess that I saw Avatar 3D a second time today with the family, and everyone loved it. I would recommend seeing this in 3D on the big screen at least once– it’s a rare chance to experience real wonder in the cinema. It’s a chance that happens every 10-20 years.

I also feel that the creativity in this film gives me some sense that humanity has greater potential than we give it credit. It’s not terribly unlike the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars fantasies that I read as a child– but who is to say that such fantasies aren’t an interesting (and challenging) representation of the imagination. If you only like chamber music from the 14th century, then this film probably isn’t for you. But as far the future of cinema is concerned…

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