Avatar redux

Well, I took my wife to see Avatar yesterday. Twice in two days for me. It was an interesting experience to see it in 3-D again. It reminded me of something – the original Star Wars. Not only in its general aspects (incredible visuals, simple plot) but in its historic sense. Just as Star Wars was the first movie of the computer era that touched deep emotional feelings through its images, I think Avatar will be seen as the first movie that utilizes 3D CGI imagery to produce a more immersive emotional response.

I saw Star Wars on the Friday it opened at Mann’s Chinese Theater in LA. I had several friends who ad worked on some of the special effects and they wanted to see ow they came out. I still remember the first scene with the huge imperial ship that seemed to go on forever chasing the small transport. I knew we were in for a very different film than I had seen before.

Avatar lets us know right off that it will be a different type of movie.

Avatar starts on a much smaller scale but with a sense of playfulness and awe that really needs to be seen in 3D to feel. I knew I was in a much more immersive movie experience. It has been discussed many times that seeing a movie is like a cream – it gets quiet and dark; then images appear for us to watch. The original Star Wars was such a wonderful dream.

I’ve seen several 3D movies before but this was the first one that took the immersive qualities to a higher level. In some ways, my brain was fooled and instead of seeing this as a dream, it seemed to react as though what it saw and heard was real, at least on an emotional level. Even a second time, when I knew what to expect, I reacted. In fact, the emotions were deeper and stronger because they were not just visceral, reacting to the moment.

Even a second time, my emotional responses were much more amped up than usual. I think that this is one of the real benefits of a well-made 3D movie. It can hit at a deeper emotional level than regular movies because that is how some part of our brain is ‘tricked’ to feel.

What separates movies from other media are the visuals and the sound. Nothing else can impact our senses tis way, which is really a direct line to our emotions. Books can sometimes ‘fool’ our brain into very strong emotional responses but nothing like a movie. And a 3D movie such as Avatar hits a deeper and stronger emotional spot than few other movies have.

Before seeing the movie, I had been worried about its apparent simple, even rehashed, plot. But now I am convinced that it needed to be relatively simple. If we had been concentrating too much on the plot, the incredible visual experience would have been lessened. In fact, seeing it a second time actually increased some of my emotional responses. I was aware of what was going to happen and actually responded strongly before it happened. Some of the scenes, which were so visceral the first time, were just heart-breaking the second.

People forget that Star Wars had a very simple derivative plot but its visuals, which had not been possible before, produced incredible emotional responses. Avatar is as much a line in the sand as Star Wars. It is the first movie since Star Wars where I want to see it again (I saw Star Wars 11 times in the theaters), as often and as soon as possible. Maybe on Christmas.

Technorati Tags:

One thought on “Avatar redux

Comments are closed.