Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Week Of Trying To Say Anything In The Least Bit Interesting About Avatar, Day 7: A Discussion of Ouroboros Leading Into an Anecdote About Babies

One of the reasons why I have spent a week trying to say anything interesting about Avatar is because it is quite a challenge to do so. Almost everything anyone says about Avatar is a value judgment on the technical merits of Avatar, which is quite a boring thing if you are not one of the world's only interesting film critics and your friends are not the other ones. Because the subject of Avatar is how good Avatar is (very), any discussion of Avatar becomes a discussion of how good Avatar is (very).

It does not surprise me that it took twelve years to make this movie, because the plot is a remarkable ouroboros of a thing: discussion of any diegetic element of Avatar leads on to discussion of the movie's whole, and because the movie's whole is about being transported into a fantastic alternate reality, you have to start talking about how remarkable that reality is, because the remarkableness of that reality to the characters is a necessary plot point; and because the characters are not exactly the Brothers Karamazov, you can't really talk for that long about why it's so important that they find floating mountains and palette-swapped Peter Chung characters remarkable. So you have to move on to talking about whether the central experience of Avatar's characters rang true for you, which is to say, you have to talk about whether you found Avatar remarkable, and before you know it you're talking about the amazing advances in computer graphics since the days of Titanic and virtual actors and a whole new era of storytelling and yadda yadda yadda.

So it is very hard to say anything about Avatar without being drawn into a discussion of the movie's technical accomplishments, and because the movie is made by James Cameron, it is full of impressive technical accomplishments. But that is not to say that they are very interesting.

Let us instead talk now about babies.

I once saw a news report on a new technology that allowed couples to visualise their baby in the womb in a clearer state than hitherto possible. In the report, the news crew traveled with a young couple to the lab where this technology was on display, and in a thoroughly uninvasive manner, the equipment was hooked up to the woman's belly, and the visualisation software was booted up. The couple looked at the screen and for the first time saw their baby as it moved under her skin, and she smiled and looked at the being that was growing inside her, illuminated on the screen in all its fragile, nascent humanity.

"Wow," said the husband, "those graphics are amazing."

In and of itself, that is interesting.


r4 dsi said...

James Cameron, in his first feature film since "Titanic" in 1997, has the right to reclaim the title of King of the (Cinematic) World with this monumental epic.

Homage said...

I'm not sure what you're getting at.

someonefromsometime said...

ouroboros: I love that word. Though I don't know what it means( all i know is that it's a bad guy virus in the most recent Resident Evil game, I think it's RE4).

Moving on, I very recently went to see Avatar and in conclusion I'd say:

It IS a display of technological might, but they story isn't very good at all. It's a story that, as you have said before, is basically exactly like that Samurai Tom Cruise movie where at first he fights the enemy(Japs) then sees that they are spiritual and nice and cool and then fights the original "good" guys for honor and values and what not. I Also felt that "they" were trying to brainwash me to feel indirectly guilty for being human, very eco-friendly message and it's also very very anti-corporation. Which is a good ideology in itself but that's not why I go see sci-fi movies for.

Anyway, if it were a book a probably wouldn't read it. But i was entertain watching this movie and I'll probably download it when it becomes available...

ya digg?


Homage said...

I just realised I never told you what Ouroboros is. It's a mythical snake able to survive by eating its own tail. There may once have been a time when this creature was thought of as existing Somewhere Else (the same sort of place that had Cyclopses, Cynocephali et al), but it's nowadays understood as a mythological metaphor for cyclicality, self-generating life, self-perpetuating cycles, &c, &c. It's often invoked in discussions of Apocalyptology, which is why it featured in the logo of the tv series Millennium. And Now You Know.

someonefromsometime said...

And knowing is half the battle! :)