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|Index||144 reviews in total|
The visuals were stunning, thought the plot was a bit predictable I found
still quite fascinating.
My only disappointment is that it lost quite a bit in the English translation. Subtitles were completely different from the Polish dialogue and seemed to add a lot of superfluous babble. Polish dialogue was cleaner and had a more links to the Avalon myth giving a sublet yet deeper meaning to the action/dialogue relationship.
I've passed this one over too many times. It always hooks me, but I'm
too impatient. Now I have to get it for keeps.
This is a unique gem. I'm concerned, as others have already suggested, that the people who were involved in this movie will not be recognized for what they have done. This is such special magic.
What made me come back and take another look at this was a chance viewing of another often-misunderstood gem, "Vampyr" (1932). I see many similarities: the slow pacing, the sullen and underplayed characters, the unusual lighting and camera-work, the haunting, creepy feeling one is left with for *weeks* after. It seems to me that either (or better yet, both) of these movies are a one-stop film-making class. So many unusual techniques, so many encouragements to experiment without restraint.
Well worth the time and intellectual excersize.
I notice on the rating chart that the younger a person is, the higher
this film gets rated. Well, I'm 53 years old and I'm giving it a 9
because it's brilliant. Maybe most "older" people simply aren't
intellectually equipped to understand this film's blending of sci-fi,
virtual reality, classical mythic archetypes, and terrific film work.
Too bad. And I suppose the movie poses a challenge to most Americans
with their aversion (provincial fear) of subtitles.
In any case, this is a Japanese production filmed and set in Poland, using Polish actors. And it is strangely wonderful in all respects: story, theme, characters, style, cinematography. It explores a virtual reality, William Gibson sort of story and theme. The protagonist is a young woman named Ash (Malgorzata Foremniak) who dons a headset and plays virtual reality games. And we, the viewers, go inside the games with her. What is real? What is virtual?
The director uses special film stock to get dream-like tones and visuals that will knock you out. In that respect, the images often remind me of early B&W American films. Lovely.
This is one of the most captivating SF movies I've seen in ages.
PLEASE, do not rent it if you expect to see another Matrix or Die Hard 298. This is not a slam-bam-blow-them-up thrillride (which I also like), but a slow, visually stunning exploration of the human mind and soul. Oshii uses the camera like an artist uses his/her brush and canvas: this movie is a painting, clear and simple, a decadent orgy of colors and music, of shadows and lights, of reality and surreality fused into a single dream. It is also VERY heavy (occasionally even preachy) which is something you might already be used to if you have seen "Ghost in the Shell" and similar Far-Eastern films, and multi-layered with symbols and allusions and metaphors. No matter how many times you watch it, you are always finding new meanings and messages unfolding like petals of a flower.
The special f/x are excellent, although many of them are designed to retain their 'artificial' flavour which is essential to the understanding of the film's message. In fact, in many places the REAL images of the REAL world are intentionally made to look like hand-painted cells from a Japanese anime, and at times you literally cannot decide if what you are watching is animation or film - which is no small feat, especially when you realize that (with the exception of some 3D work) the original 'rough' shots are made with as traditional a technology as possible.
What is the movie about? Well, there are multiple interpretations. It may be about whether we live in reality or not; whether we under-appreciate our 'ordinary' life in a reality that others would consider heaven; whether in the modern world it is still possible to be a hero, or are we forced to escape into cyberspace if we want to be heros ourselves; whether life is a game, and if it is, can we win it - and should we keep playing it even if we know we cannot win in the end; whether we can control our fate, and whether control means willfully choosing a slavery of real life, or accepting a virtual slavery that we can control; etc. The movie plays with the same concepts that surface in "Ghost in the Shell" (of course) and "Blade Runner" and "Kaffka" and "Matrix" and "Gattaca" and "Brazil" and "The Twelve Monkies" and "Dark City" and "Solaris" and "Stalker" and many-many other films, but it is much better and more tightly integrated than any of the others. In fact, there are many indications (e.g. the 'Ghost' of the little girl, the design of the tanks, the figure of the Bishop) that it may be a 'prequel' to "Ghost in the Shell". At the minimum, there is definitely a tight intellectual connection between the two.
WARNING! "Avalon" does have some 'traditional' action scenes in it, and they are executed with style and gusto, but it also slows down a couple of times, and has about 7 minutes (overall) that could have been trimmed without losing its character.
ALSO, the DVD I watched (Miramax NTSC release) is set to the Polish language by default, so you have to actually go to Setup and switch to English (it has both an English language track AND optional subtitles) before you start playing if you want to watch it in English.
A must-see for everybody who appreciates fine cinema.
"The Matrix" touched on a few subjects that hadn't been discussed in
film (especially an 'action' film) since "Blade Runner". 'What is
Reality?' and 'Is there purpose to life?' and 'Is there more than what
I am seeing?' are common questions that are acknowledged in art.
The subject of virtual reality and the nature of reality is not new (read William Gibson's 'Neuromancer'), but Mamoru Oshii manages to do something that is rarely done in cinema, or at least rarely done well. That is make you feel something that is intangible and beyond words. "Ghost in the Shell" did this for me as well as such monumental films as "2001". This film is in that class, I believe.
The only suggestions I have to those that are interested in watching "Avalon" is don't believe Miramax (who botched the American DVD) and their hype about comparing this film to "The Matrix". They want to sell it to Matrix fans. They think it is a hard sell. But other than the virtual reality aspect, there is not much that these two films have in common. Also, watch the film with subtitles, if you have the Miramax version. The dub leaves a lot to be desired, and hearing the film in Polish gives the film a different feel and complements the imagery.
People interested in ideas and art will enjoy this film. It is not an 'action' film.
What an amazing film. Everything about this movie is wonderful. The story,
the characters, the situations, the acting, the special effects. This is a
truly unique look at a near future that is not as far off as we may want it
to be, where young people are addicted to a illegal battle simulation game.
A fascinating story that is obviously shot by a master. The pace of this
movie is noticeably slower than typical Hollywood movies. The long camera
shots are reminiscent of Kubrick with a uniquely different feel. Though I'm
still confused about the story itself, this is a wonderful movie well worth
8/10 for the whole package. Just don't expect to be getting another "Matrix"
While movies like Blade Runner, Gattaca and Dark City illustrate the potential to artificially >produce live< together with its uncontrollable feedbacks, Avalon plays in a world were life is worth nothing, since it is thought to be artificial. Ash's role is defined by stalking down everything and everyone who moves along. With her virtual reality gear on, herself and others might easily mistake her appearance for an avatar like Lara Croft. At first sight the goal of the game is to access Avalon a sacred island that grants eternal youth and wisdom at the price of total oblivion. Ironically Ash is almost most of her time already in that state of mind a beautiful young survivor in your favourite present-game-show. At the climax of Avalon's story appears a potential male-female-love-encounter: First as an identity-reassuring phantasm since Ash apparently is playing the game to meet her loved-one. And last the encounter serves as a potential (emergency) exit to gain back a sense of human reality. 1 am going to argue that in either case human reality remains a lost concept, but worthwhile to be maintained as an illusion of real virtuality -- in order to avoid sudden death and other unbearable events within game-levels without a reset button.
Mamoru Oshii's "Avalon" is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It's on par with "Blade Runner". This movie is truly ground-breaking cinema. The photography is fantastic. Tremendous thought went into the coloring of scenes - shading, lighting, and angles. Absolutely breathtaking! From heart-pounding moments of shock to quiet corners of solitude, this movie carries your soul to the furthest reaches of human experience. The sound track is marvelous, stunning, thrilling. The choral and orchestral contributions are refined and balanced, easily lifting you to climaxes expression, then drawing you to glide to imperceptible moments of lull. A work of art that will send shivers down your spine, warm your heart and fill your mind with deep thoughts. I will continue to watch this movie over and over again for the rest of my life. Way ahead of it's time. It is so unusual to find such a perfect combination of plot, special effects, orchestral arrangement, acting and inspirational settings. The depth of theory that underlies this philosophical tome of cinematography filled my soul with wonderment throughout each moment of this triumphant film. This movie is destined to be a classic in the annals of movie making! If there was a god, he has undoubtedly gently drawn breath through the artists who collaborated on this project. A masterwork of untouchable excellence!
I recently saw the UK Premiere of this movie at the London Sci-Fi Festival and I was blown away. It was fantastic. A lonely woman is driven to seeking more danger and greater challenges but looses herself so much in the game that everyone plays, named 'Avalon' that she seems to loose track of herself. A Secret area, 'Special A' is where she goes to seek a man she knows, whose mind was lost in Avalon, leaving his body in the 'real' world, a vegetable. The ending leaves nothing clear, but bring audiences to consider what truly is reality.
There's some Matrix and eXistenz here. And some 1984 as well, with the game master looking like Big Brother. The plot is set in the dystopian near future, where things are not terrible, they are just sucked dry. Consequently, the biggest game in town is the virtual reality called Avalon, played by some and watched by most. In Avalon, the player gets into a dentist chair and puts a weird helm on and away they go dropped right into a guerrilla warfare situation. They can win or they can lose. Ash, our heroine, is mainly a winner who aside from a devoted Basset Hound doesn't have a friend in the world, nor much of a life.
Most of the discussions about the film concern two issues: what's real and what's not? Fair enough. Here's my take: The real is anything that is not unreal. Hence, the movie as a whole is just light on a screen and is therefore unreal. That point aside, let's now examine what parts of the movie are to be taken as real and what parts are not. Using the above criterion, any part that has something unreal (that is contrary to the laws of nature) would be unreal and any part that didn't have something unreal would be possibly real. Thus all of the first part of the film is not real. The first part is not real because it is in sepia monochrome and it has several exact playbacks. The real world is not in sepia and there is no playback for reality. The past is fixed and can't be recalled. The past certainly can't be repeated exactly. In life, there is no playback. Of course, all the battles are fake as things in the real world don't shatter and atomize when hit. How about the last part where Ash wakes up in the dentist's chair in her drab apartment? That might have been real except that the Bishop shows her a book about Arthur that has blank pages and Ash's beloved Basset disappeared while a big meal was being cooked for him. Real dogs don't just disappear, especially at dinner time. What about the hospital scene? Nothing unreal there. So we don't know for sure that it is not real. The Bishop is present outside the hospital sighting Ash with his weird yellow spy glass. He seems to be real there, but we don't really know that for sure. Murphy certainly looks like he is in some vegetative state, brain dead, and unreturned. That leaves Special A or Class Real. Is Class Real real? The short answer is No! Multiple unreal things happen in Class Real: The colors are all saturated (white is withdrawn from them by digital manipulation). Because of this effect, Murphy's chest wounds look too red. The wounds are certainly too big and too bloody. The Walther PPK 7.65 mm that Ash shoots Murphy with never makes holes that bleed in the entrance wounds. In fact, you have to look damn carefully to find the entrance wounds for that bullet. Furthermore, Murphy proves he is not real when he shatters and atomizes. Ash proves she is not real because the gray streak in her hair is gone and she looks 15 years younger and 100% healthier in Class Real. Real people don't change that fast or that much. The last scene also shows the reappearance of the ghost child. That can't be real. And the restart of the Avalon game after Ash aims at the ghost child. That can't be real. Conclusion: Ash is unreturned and in coma somewhere back in the hospital.
Appraisal: Although tedious and sluggish by western standards, this movie played well in Japan, where audiences are more into meditating on the significance of mediated realities. The movie is logically coherent once the initial premises are accepted. Avalon is likely to find a cult following along side Matrix and eXistenZ.
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