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I have seen this film in 2001,when it was released in
Then I was rather disappointed. The plot seemed to be weak,
the drama-- boring.
But I changed my thought recently after having seen it again on
It isn't so boring, It is a film for our time, when traditional cinema is
dying or dead everywhere. It is a historical process,going not only in
cinema. In fact "Avalon" tells about the background of contemporary visual
medias--all our visual experiences by them is now digitalized and we can't
discern clearly where the Reality begins to be replaced by digital VR space.
Now VR very deeply intrudes into our life.
It makes our life something empty.
Now cinema depends on 3DCG and special effects even in the most usual
scenes--fog on the night garden, the landscape outside the
the color of actors' skin or even movements of their eyes...
But only a few directors makes films "about it".
Of course "Avalon" is not about cinema. Oshii had already made one film about cinema years before("Talking Head"), which is comical and grotesque but not so good. After that Oshii learned to disguise himself--use seemingly "commercial", "simple" stories or genres to tell things which is going on in the world. In this way he could keep making films with growing budget, with growing visual complexity, which is beyond the reach of other Japanese "art house"filmmakers. I had seen almost all the works of Mamoru Oshii,including his TV serials of 1970s. He is a skilled, unique director and his thought is recently going too far from usual audience, including lovers of old art house films. But his method--skillful use of commercial conditions--allows him to make films. It is a right way, when there is no other choice. From this point of view, "Avalon" is a good film for our time and of our time, though I can't use the word "masterpiece".
Being a fan of mamoru Oshii and being a patient viewer who can stand across very slow and long movies (I love, for instance, Tarkovski's works) I feel the need the tell the disappointment this film was. Yes, its visual is unique, but it is overused (the shot with the tramway that comes back three or four times). Yes, it's contemplative, but it lacks of magic, of a real mise-en-scène that would transcend the images. The apparitions of the ghost are in fact the few moments I felt the magic of Oshii's touch. I've read somewhere that this work was reminiscent of Bergman's... Come on, it's not because The Bishop reminds us of the Death in The Seventh Seal that this film is "bergmanian"! Sure I wanted to love this film, but its real problem is that you are never rewarded for your patience: it never comes up with a new story about virtual reality. Maybe it tells things we have already heard a bit differently, but nothing new really pops out. The open ending appears to me here as a hollow trick. I would advise you to watch (again) Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh, etc... rather than this splendid but boring film... (excuse my bad english btw)
This could have been an incredibly good movie but (and *not* because of the lack of action scenes) it remains some eye/ear candy : The story itself is boring and lacks a good plot. It ends like a Fastbinder movie : i.e. it doesn't really end. The music is excellent, so are the visual effects but, hey ! something is missing. That's it.
It made me sleepy. The constant repetition of everything (scenes, music,
scenarios) made me very tired.
So tired in fact, that I fell asleep through most of the middle of the
The only point of the film that I truely appreciated was the opera, and
was ruined towards the end by bad editing during the opera house scenes.
Ok, I saw many superb comments on this movie - but all of them came from
people who don't know polish language. I suppose that when you don't
understand what the characters are talking about, the impression is much
I know polish language and I know these actors. Most of them usually act
polish soap operas - and their acting in Avalon is as bad as in
From the other hand - the pictures are simply great. Cooperation between
polish cameraman and japanese manga director is superb in this movie.
in city of Wroclaw ("dark part") and Warsaw ("Avalon"), the movie shows
sides of Poland (indirectly, of course ;)).
Summarizing - if you don't speak polish you should watch the movie, this strange language will make it even more fascinating. If you actually do, then watch this specific pearl : japanese sf movie with polish cast and english subtitles :)
For me it's 5 but for non-polish speaking audience - 7.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first I found it amazing that a lot of people liked this movie so
much. Then I remembered of the Forer effect and everything was clearer.
The movie is very vague and all over the place and does not know that it wants. Also as someone that have both played games and worked for a brief time in the gaming industry I saw a lot of problems. But let's take things one of a time. Let's explain what happens in the movie.
In more than 60% of the movie (the whole sepia thing) most things are not real. Is hard to tell if any part in the beginning is real. The class Real is the real world. The people in the hospitals that are in a coma are actually players that just logged out of the game and never returned. It is interesting to note that there are very few people in the first part of the game and that there appears not to be anyone in the hospital except the coma people. Also we do not see children animals (except for the one dog) blood (you would think sooner or later someone will cut his fingers with a knife).
In the second part of the movie (Class Real) we see all the normal elements of real world. A lot of people said the colors were too bright, but if you spend a lot of time only seeing shades of gray and sepia when you get outside everything is brighter. The reason why the man disappears when she shots him is because she has mental break down. She cannot accept she really killed someone and here mind just rewrites everything.
The dog in the car is irrelevant. She just noticed it because she likes that type of dog (maybe did not have one in real life). The reason the dog appears on some posters is because her mind creates hallucinations.
How about the Bishop? This is the complicated part. I believe that originally the game was created to brainwash people into becoming assassins. Also the man at end probably tried to pull her off from the game even on the risk of his own life but failed. The message "welcome to Avalon" can mean either that she is a coma dreaming new levels, or that she just logged back on after killing the man.
OK, now let me tell you what I find stupid and proof that the person directing this movie never played a game in his life:
1. If they have technology for full VR then they will not have graphics this shitty.
2. The random characters on the screens. It is the only thing copied directly from Matrix and in fact is one of the most stupid things about Matrix. Why would they be there? Making images from fonts has not been used for a long long long time. (if you did not have windows 95 on your computer you probably never seen such a game).
3. The way object appear and disappear is stupid. Usually there are wreckage and dead bodies in the area for a while. They usually disappear either after a period of time or after you leave the area, never disappear instantly.
4. All the characters in the game are the same. In a real game like warcraft or whatever every character was significantly different and at high levels you would not be able to change your specialization so easy. Actually to change your specialization you would usually have to lose all your exp, and most of other stats.
5.scenes repeated continuously and boring scenes like her cutting vegetables... really? was this interesting for anyone?
6. No matter how realistic a virtual world is, usually the AI of the NPC is sacrificed. This means that doing something totally unexpected to a NPC (for instance kiss a waiter or punch it) will cause an strange and unrealistic response.
I has high hopes for the movie. SAO-sword art online (at least the first part) was a great implementation of the virtual reality game idea.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As someone who is a gamer, a computer and sci-fi enthusiast, I found
this to be a pretentious long winded bore. Hang on, I'll tell you why!
First, the visuals. The blurry, heavily bloomed and contrasted, sepia
toned imagery that dominated the film just didn't work for me. While it
masked the room temperature cg elements, I found that it just made the
film look muddy and I was unable to get pulled into this world.
Then there is the story. The theme of "What's real?" isn't something new and I don't consider it a high end effort when I find myself strained to watch a dull woman in a bad wig stone face her way through pointless, repetitive and drawn out scenes, one after the other. I suppose the abstract, disjointed writing mixed with the director credits can allow for people to interpret depth and sophistication but for me it just didn't feel cohesive and worthwhile but rather like drug enhanced, self important, hipster produced script. I waited to be intrigued, I waited to be invested, I waited for the shots to amount to some kind of message that justified the running time and for just something, anything to actually happen. No dice! Blank and stoic leads may work easily in stylized animation but is terribly difficult in live action and Ash failed hard. Sorry, I don't think the goose laid a golden egg this time around.
I will say though, the orchestral piece in the conclusion was simply awesome.
Although made like a low budget film and a super slow pace which can be
a sore boredom, it is very surreal not just in a high form of art but
the hidden power of Avalon is it leaves a lot of food for thought.
Whether reality is what it seems or what is the real setting/situation
behind what can be seen in the eyes through this movie? What is
actually going on behind Ash's real character?
I am not even commenting on the music score or the wonderfully done surreal atmosphere generated in the game world.
The more you rewatch it, the more you think about it the more this movie offers many versions of interpretation. This is one of those films where you will get a different conclusion every time you re-watch it. A reminiscent of the directors' other films which are not what they appear to be, Avalon is meant to be made to reveal very minimal details to the audience, hence the slow pace and lack of solid 'plot line'.
In fact reviewers who feel so much criticism for it should refer to the fan forums online on this movie and you can see the enthusiasm from those reviewers on their versions and intepretations - really not many movies are able to do this. Brilliant!
If nothing else, Avalon is a visually striking movie, precisely for its
lack of visual appeal. Whether it's the desert hellscapes of the
virtual reality game the film centres around or the muted colours of
the "real world", everything seems oppressively drab. It's an
interesting bit of cinematography that makes it easy to understand how
a person living in this dire, vaguely post-apocalyptic but maybe just
contemporary city could turn to outlandish and violent fantasy.
The script is, unfortunately, a bit of a shambles. Characters have cryptic conversations about the past or vague philosophical ideas. Interesting concepts are introduced only to be tossed aside. The ending is a steady unfolding of Twilight Zone-esque twists. It's basically Oshii indulging in his worst habits, basset hound and all. But what really rankles is that, despite this being ostensibly a film about video games, Oshii doesn't seem to grasp the appeal of games or gamer culture at all.
Maybe there's a lot of stuff here I didn't get, or maybe a lot of important context got left on the cutting room floor. It's certainly an ambitious project, and not an entirely unsuccessful one. If nothing else it's nice to see Oshii exploring new ground with a live action film. But in the end this film just leaves me feeling as cold as its ambivalent and ambiguous protagonist.
(Also, apparently the English version -- dub and sub -- includes expository dialogue not in the original. Who does that?)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A typical Mamoru Oshii style film. Slow, heavy handed but often
effective use of lens filters, dreary soundtrack, poor Foley work,
cinema noir poses and some art-house meanderings. The story is so so,
reasonably similar themes can be seen in a lot of work coming out of
japan these days. Virtual reality or online identity cross merging with
the real world. It is very anime in parts but I am not sure anime works
for live action. In anime you can forgive some of the stiffness or the
poor Foley but in live action it makes it feel a bit dead. A problem I
have with all Oshii's film.
The main actress is good. She does hold the film together. Not much is asked from her in terms of character development or script but she gives more than is on the written on the page and imbues the film with a feeling of lose, fading away, remorseful acceptance.
I liked the film. I enjoy the theme. I thought the CGI was done well and there were some nice shots. The metaphors are a bit much but that is to be expected with Oshii. Boo to me but I wish he'd make GITS 3.
SPOILER (NOT REALLY)
I very much did not like the last scene. The is a scene where an orchestra perform the theme of the film Avalon with cuts going between a conversation outside and the orchestra inside. This for me was the worst scene. The filming of the orchestra was very standard TV style with no use of creative lighting to reflect the colour of the music, no close-ups of any of the instruments, no style at all just bad TV. Then it was clumsily cut with the conversation outside which were meant to reflect the lyrics of the opera. I thought it was very poor. And I thought the dog in the car was just stupid.
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