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Cameron's Pandora's Box
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-12-24 09:01:43
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Directed by James Cameron
2009, 20th Century Fox
Usually when I want t write something about a book or a film I leave a few days to go by, it’s like the good wine you let the wine to get some air before start drinking it. And I did the same with the film “Avatar” I watched last week actually with Asa. Then I read his review about the film and more reviews I could find online and I noticed something, all of them are talking about the superb animation, but is this what cinema is all about?

Let me ask you something, when you watched “The Godfather” what do you remember, the dimensions of Marlon Brando or Brando’s performance? Did you come out of this magnificent film talking about the car James Caan was driving when they shot him or about James Caan’s performance? It must be the time I let for the wine to …breathe!

I’m not nagging or anything else and it is not my intention to undermine the fantastic work the …computers did for the film Avatar; on the contrary I think that this film is going to change a lot of things in the cinema as we knew it but which part of the cinema and isn’t it pity if a computer and a group of graphic designers will change the cinema as we knew it?

Let’s stick with sciences fiction and remember Star Wars. When Lukas created the first trilogy he brought revolution to the cinema, it was the amazing and complicate for then special effects, it was the sound and the make up and I think he was awarded for all those but Star Wars is remembered for the script, for the performances, for Sir Alec Guinness, for the thrill.

Avatar has fantastic animation it actually reaches the perfection. There were moments I was lost, I forgot that everything was a computer and software creation. The nature, the planet, the animals and the habitats of the planet Pandora are perfect. And the actors were …fine for an adventure film but I have to apologise because the only thing that saved Sigourney Weaver acting was the remembrance and often resemblance of her acting in Alien.

And then it was this strange feeling that I still have remembering the film that there were scenes I had seen before. It was like James Cameron had collected the best scenes for all the action and sci-fi films in the history of the cinema, created a collage dressed in an environmental background with a lot of historical references in the destiny of the Native Americans and the black people in Africa. I mean I could see scenes from the Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman, definitely scenes from his own Aliens, then the Colonel Miles Quaritch Asa points in his review was just like another Colonel from the film Starship Troopers. And then there were jokes about the Titanic, the other James Cameron hit and about George W. Bush, “We fight terror with terror”.

I’m not trying to make you avoid the film. On the contrary I’m planning to see it again and most likely I will buy the DVD when it comes out and I won’t be surprised if it makes me think of buying a blue ray DVD player and even a home cinema. The film technically is brilliant and I definitely suggest you to go and see it but please don’t see it as the film that will change cinema as I read in much more interviews that I would like to see it. And if it does change cinema as we know it then Pandora planet James Cameron created has become Pandora’s Box!

A few years ago some said that it will come the day we will see again Humphrey Bogart playing with a little help from the computers and the animation designers. I’m sorry but this is not cinema and I sincerely hope this day never comes. And yes Avatar’s animated characters are totally realistic but I hope they will remain 3d animated characters totally realistic and not actors. Or perhaps it is time to leave cinema where it is and find a new name for this new animated art.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-12-24 11:12:01
Not having seen the movie I do not with to prejudge it, prejudgments usually lead to biased opinions; but one can say this much: special effects alone in a film never a great film made. The same applies to literature; all the gimmicks of style and form will not produce one single classic epic poem or an enduring novel that will still be read a thousand years from now. To obtain that an author or a director needs a narrative or a great story, a never-ending story of heroes, an ever relevant story of sacrifice, death and resurrection, as those found in myths and parables and even fairy tales portraying spiritual realities via symbols and the archetypes of human nature and addressing the enduring issues that accrues to such a nature. One of those films was Lukas' ET; a Christ story under the guise of myth and symbols. In literature, one thinks of the Divine Comedy of Dante. Pandora’s box has the title of a great myth, but if that’s all it has, I am afraid that a hundred years from now nobody will watch it or discuss it any longer, albeit it might be found in the books of records as a film that broke technological barriers, and that in itself would be a sad commentary on our present culture and civilization.

Emanuel Paparella2009-12-24 11:14:41
Corrigenda: ..wish to prejudge it.

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