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Avalon More at IMDbPro »

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If you like "Street of Crocodiles"...

Author: Oskado from Kingman, Arizona
15 January 2004

Much of this film is shot in odd sepia- or bronze tone, through long corridors, empty offices, barren wastes, and shadows are long and pronounced in Expressionist style, causing a clash between 1920's German sensitivity and present-day Desert Storm modernism. Other settings are art-nouveau rich, old world, like Kafka's Prague, complete with street cars. Inanimate objects may come to life while animate ones disappear. Characters resemble mannequins or animated puppets, and dream world and reality intermix.

This is a cinematic gem somewhat like Street of Crocodiles - or (on the stage) Von Hofmannthal's "der Turm" - a surreal expressionist experience. Music, dramatic flows, moods - a very right-side-of-the brain experience in which plot and story-line details are of subsidiary importance. Again and again I wanted to stop and back up the DVD to examine a character or a scene in closer detail. As a result, I'd probably seen most the film three times before I actually arrived at the end, and then replayed it, too. I wish, in fact, the film were longer.

On the other hand, as a literary work, the script is minimalist, with few "action" scenes, few dangerous encounters, no "bad guys" seeking political overthrow or millions - it's instead peopled with gamers, each more or less freaked-out or quirky than the others. In fact, rather than die, gamers can simply call for a "reset" and escape the game. I do not enjoy violence in films - but those who hope for Bruce Willis/Schwarzenegger/etc. banalities are bound for disappointment. There isn't even any "sex" in it - though the lead character is superbly aesthetic, as though a bronze statue one moment, or a porcelain mask the next. I loved playing the PC game, "Alice" - for much the same qualities: the atmosphere, the absorbing, eerie, degenerate world it drew me in to. And I enjoy puzzles; this film, too, presents us with video-game style conundrums.

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this is something special, not for everyone

Author: alyzzia from Poland
29 September 2003

i know the movie can be boring. probably for most audience it is. but there are some freaks that liked it very much. it's just if you try a little bit to get out of the old habbits while looking the movie you'll love it. anyway you must see Japan in this movie and understand their way of thinking, believe me, if you do it you'll get much more from the movie. Don't watch surface, take a deep breath and jump into it :-)

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The reality of imagination...?

Author: Lurch_Kimded from Edinburgh, Scotlan
9 January 2003

Avalon is a film which left me knowing that on some deep level it had left its sepia-toned imprint upon me. I am not a great one for art-house films but I am a massive cyber-punk fan and love Ghost in the Shell. I went into the film not being quite sure to expect from a live action polish film by a Japanese anime director. What I received was a wonderful film which, if viewed with the correct frame of mind, explored the lines of reality and obsession with a computer generated world which allows a complete level of escapism in many ways. To say more would ruin the film, but needless to say, watch out for the small touches in the background and in what seem like throw away shots. This is a wonderful film for anyone who likes to think about a film whilst they are watching it and for hours afterwards. Marvellous.

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Visually stunning!

Author: vangelis-3 (
6 December 2002

Apart from the stunning visuals and the sound and digital effects , I was surprised to find the allegory behind the scene of the destruction of the huge tank which bears Russian words on it , in order to advance to the next stage which is the Real World, dominated by Coca -Cola advertisements, suggesting the underlying status of post communist Poland and the inevitable dominance of capitalism. Great and thought provoking film.

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Bonkers. Baffling. Brilliant.

Author: phiggins from London, England
14 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS... "Avalon" - a world where nothing is real, not even reality. A world of illegal virtual reality war games. A retro-future world of muted colours, grotty buildings and down-trodden citizenry. "Avalon" - a Polish/Japanese co-production featuring awesome yet strangely sedate battle scenes, enigmatic characters, minimal dialogue and a plot that goes everywhere and nowhere (baby). Ash, our heroine, plays the aforementioned video game, and is both addicted to it and very good at it, although it doesn't seem to give her much actual pleasure. A Big Brother-esque character advises her on her game play. Strange things happen. There is talk of another, secret level to the game that can be accessed whenever one encounters a strange ghostly child. I know, it doesn't sound very good, does it. However, this is one of those films that can drive a person batty, with its repetitive, stately, surreal, haunting atmosphere, incredible special effects and quite simply fantastic music. It has to be seen to be believed. I've seen it, and I'm still not sure I believe it. Ballard, Banks, Baudrillard, Cronenberg (especially "Videodrome" and the mighty "Existenz"), Gilliam, Orwell and "City of Lost Children" are all reference points, as is the work of Chris Marker ("La Jetee", "Sans Soleil"). This is, in other words, an intelligent, thought-provoking, disturbing, brilliant piece of cinema. It is gratifying to see that, yet again, there are people outside the artistic bankruptcy of Hollywood who are using computer-generated imagery with imagination and style. Compare the images in this film with something like "The Matrix" (that dullard's touch-stone): on the one hand we have genuinely breath-taking and mind-blowing visuals, while on the other we have a Gap advert with extra weaponry. I know which I prefer. As Ash's quest (for what? Her dog?) continues, she comes into contact with what looks (to the audience) like real life. Indeed, it is called "Level Real". Suddenly everything looks normal, and we think we have worked out what is going on. We couldn't, of course, be more wrong. As the orchestra, choir and soloist build to an epic crescendo, Ash confronts... someone. And, just as we think we understand, the rug is pulled away yet again. The music continues, the line between reality and unreality is as blurred as ever, and my head really hurts. If you get the chance to see this work of art, do so. You will not be disappointed. You might end up a lot of things, but not disappointed.

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Cool video game fantasy about virtual reality war games

Author: Bart from Midwest
28 October 2002

Hmmm, when I saw the trailer for this film, I was VERY excited to see it. The visuals looked awesome and the action scenes looked as good as some of the stuff from The Matrix. However, after I bought the DVD and watched the whole thing, I was a bit disappointed. When you watch the film, remember that only parts were directed by Mamoru Oshii, and the rest by the Polish director (I can't remember his name off hand). The opening few minutes of the movie are smashing. Absolutely fantastic. BUT, the remainder of the film, is quite boring and repetitive. Throughout the film there are a few more small segments directed by Mamoru Oshii, and these scenes really make the film worth watching, twice or three times at least. The story is really cool also, but not held up enough to make it very interesting. Overall, the film has some stunning visual scenes (those directed by Mamoru Oshii) but lacks as a whole...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Behind the Scenes.

Author: fireycam-38624 from Gosford, Australia
28 February 2015

Simply, I enjoyed the journey it took me on. I liked the story and the way it was presented. For the character Ash, the game was an escape from reality and she came to believe that maybe there was a little more.

At first though I thought the game graphics in this movie were a little outdated. But then you realise with the setting the character is in, they are lucky to have anything like this at all. And so it all does seem to fit together.

My contribution to this, is that I checked out the 'making of' supplement to the DVD. This was an eye opener. I came to have a much greater appreciation of the movie and also the genius and work that went into some scenes by the makers.

Highly recommended.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Poetic masterpiece of Science Fiction

Author: Rabh17 from United States
22 July 2012

It looks like a live-action movie about anime, about Artificial Reality, about Gaming and Society. Yes, this is Correct.

It Looks like a Movie about a Fictional Game played in a Fictional Dystopian Future. Yes. . .But mostly Not quite what you think.

It will NOT give the average viewer the usual Hollywood thriller blood 'n' guts Bang-Bang FPS shoot-em up.

Instead, the creators of this movie, which could NEVER have come out of Hollywood, are using the Artificial Reality/Game to pose a dramatic question. Some reviewers have called the plot/pace slow...No-- it's called 'Drama', folks. It's not a recorded screenshot of ADHD paced shoot-em-up gameplay foisted on us and called a Movie. It's a Movie that dares to call itself a Drama and pose a QUESTION about Gameplay. It's seems 'slow'-- because you are supposed to wonder what IS ACTUALLY happening.

Yes, it is about What is Artificial vs what is Real. But it does it with music, lighting, a play on color and a poetic sense.

If you are willing -and able- to sit back and take in this movie as a Dramatic Event instead of the expected Blam-Bang-Boom action flick, you will be surprisingly moved.

The Opening Theme at the beginning is stunning. The Musical Performance at the end is simply Beautiful.

Girl-Friend Test! If she sits thru the first hour and then can't stop watching...she's a keeper.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very good, but flawed

Author: Tom-2128 from United States
13 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lot's of comments compare this movie to "The Matrix" but they don't point out the obvious difference: the plot of "Avalon" is the reverse of "The Matrix". In "The Matrix", the main character starts out in the game (the Matrix) and moves to the real world. In "Avalon", the main character (Ash) goes in the opposite direction.

Another interesting point is that the philosophy of "Avalon" is the opposite of that of "The Matrix". In "The Matrix", living in reality is presented as the highest value, worth sacrificing comfort and security. In "Avalon", the point is that the real isn't morally superior to the artificial: choosing the artificial (i.e. virtual reality) is presented as a perfectly reasonable choice.

There is a dispute about whether the first part of the movie is boring or just depicting a boring character. It's both. The problem is that the director apparently didn't realize that showing a boring life doesn't have to be boring. He could have used techniques such as showing a dull sequence, then referring to it briefly several times. "Groundhog Day" used that technique.

A common complaint in many comments is that Ash is emotionless and her real world is bland, boring, and (almost literally) colorless. That is crucial to the movie: it has to make the point that Ash's life outside the game is meaningless.

I like the fact that the movie combines Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and Multi User Dungeons, and it handles each of them accurately.

We can summarize the point of the movie as: the artificial world we create can be better than the world we live in.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Avalon single DVD

Author: lwolfson-1 from United States
19 November 2005

10+ for direction and photography. 8 for acting (Ash was a 10+). I found a copy at Blockbuster with single DVD widescreen with English subtitles. Here's what I don't get:

1. There were many subtitles when no one was speaking, did they just dub out voices to replace with subtitles? Somewhat confusing for me.

2. Language mismatch, the little Polish I know didn't seem to jive with some of the subtitles.

3. Shots of the orchestra; yes, the music was great and Skywalker Ranch really did a bang-up job with the audio fixes, but watching the orchestra (and the audience watching the orchestra) hurt the pace of the movie. Were these shots added?

4. Skywalker Ranch's role in this? If anyone knows the story of how they got involved, I would like to hear more.

5. I thought this existed as 2 or 4 CD set. Mine was single CD.

Overall, this was a great movie. The scene of Ash fixing the food for her dog was so mesmerizing, I was captured in the moment like Ash and totally forgot about the dog. The breakfast scene of her "friend" stuffing his face was awesome! I am so glad to see decent sci-fi without Hollywood destroying it.

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