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Review of ‘Avatar’ (2009)

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James Cameron opens a new chapter in 3D cinema and the synthetic image with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez. The first of five films.

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    Anyone who claims that James Cameron has suddenly made the language of entertainment cinema evolve 100 years ago… to do justice to the aesthetics of French comics from 30 years ago. Before counteracting such disqualification with an excess of enthusiasm, it would be convenient to discern how much truth is contained in that jug of cold water that many hoped to throw on the visionary ambition of the filmmaker: the exceptionality of Avatar is not, in effect, not even in its conceptual aggressiveness – in other words: this is not 2001: a space odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)–; nor on the surfaces of its design (here, the shadow of Valerian, Mézières and Christin’s spatio-temporal agent, remains elongated). But only Numantine blindness could deny its foundational relevance by opening a new chapter of inexhaustible possibilities in the total (con)fusion of the photographic image and the synthetic image. In a sense, requiring Avatar accompanied its technical excellence with an innovative and groundbreaking discourse would be something similar to expecting that the train that arrived at the Ciotat station had come loaded with the first reels (coming from the future) of the still unborn Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941).

    Pandora’s (luminous) box

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    In his review of the novel Anathemaby Neal Stephenson, Rodrigo Fresán remembered some words by Philip K. Dick that are especially relevant to the case of the latest Cameron: “Getting a planet that doesn’t exist. That’s the first step”. And, indeed, this is the first stone of the revolution announced by Avatar, and what marks a stimulating line of continuity between that Moon with its eye injured by Méliès’s cannon shot and this leafy Pandora, phosphorescent with the tones of a psilobicin vision, in which Cameron’s camera and the entire audience can be absorbed to experience all the declensions of wonder. Cameron’s perfectionism in endowing the planet Pandora with reality and verisimilitude seems to attend both to the maximum (those mountains suspended in the air) and to the minimum (the luminescence of lichens to the touch) and turns the genesis of this imaginary planet into the strongest asset of Avatar.
    The film is pure Cameron in its fusion of technological fetishism and New Age mystique – the essential components of abyss (1989), without going any further-, but its touches of genius transcend both its aesthetics and its content and are in the virtuous application of motion-capture and its ability to simulate a hyper-realistic immersion experience in the elusive matter of dreams. .

    For those who want to travel far

    The best: his constant conquests of language.

    The worst: it does not open the viewer’s third eye.

    DATA SHEET

    Address: james cameron Distribution: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder, Laz Alonso, Stephen Lang, Joel Moore Original title: Avatar Country: USA Year: 2009 Release date: 12-18-2009 Gender: Action, Animation, War, Fantasy Screenplay: james cameron Duration: 163min

    Synopsis: In the future, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic war veteran, is sent to Pandora, a planet inhabited by the Na’vi, a human-like race. An extraordinary find will pit men and aliens against each other and Sully will wonder which side he’s on.

    Source: Fotogramas

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