Sunday, 20 November 2011

Avatar directed by James Cameron

Fig. 1 Box art

Avatar directed by James Cameron (2009). Jake Sully’s (Sam Worthington) twin brother is murdered and held a significant investment to the company RDA. Sully is offered to take his brothers place and is soon arriving on the moon Pandora. There he meets Grace (Sigourney Weaver) head of the science department. Sully is an ex-marine who initially helps Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) gather intelligence on how to destroy the tree that is the Na’vi’s home known as Home Tree by using the Avatar to gain their trust. Sully soon discovers that the corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) intends to do whatever is necessary to obtain the precious mineral Unobtainium (which is the term used for any extremely rare, costly material). Sully starts to develop feelings for the Na’vi and falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). As Quaritch sets about destroying the Tree of Souls Sully must help the Na’vi win the war against the humans to save their planet.

Cameron first envisioned Avatar 15 years before it was made but lacked the technology to create his work. Soon after seeing The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, it was decided that technology could be pushed far enough to create the master piece. Avatar is a stepping stone in terms of the Computer Generated effects and technology used for future films. The technology used in avatar hadn’t be created before so it needed to be created in order to start filming. “"Avatar" is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough” (Ebert 2009). The cameras would show the actors as a basic representation of the Na’vi in the world of Pandora, the camera could be picked up and moved around by a person showing Pandora in real time. Cameron used this to great advantage to get amazing camera angles on scenes, which really gives the viewer a sense of involvement within the film. And this new technology produced great Cinematography.

Fig 2. James Cameron with virtual camera

Avatar could be argued that it was created by the Art department and Cameron, Cameron is also an artists and knew what he wanted so he looked for the best Artists he could and it pays off. This was the major focus of this film to create an amazing fantasy world. “Cameron gives us one of the most amazing presentations ever of an alien world and builds toward an epic clash that may only have been matched twice previously in movie theaters” (Berardinelli, 2009). The world that is Pandora was created from the ground upwards, creating the eco system, various plants and animals to fit into the world. This gave the world a sense of being and that it actually existed in space. Pandora becomes even more immersive and impressive at night, when the plants and creature emit a bioluminescence, no doubt taking influences from various bioluminescence mushrooms, insects from Earth. Avatar won three Oscars being for; Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Fig 3. Thanator

Music and sound FX as played a vital role in the film and transforms the visual effects into something that lives. “filled to the brim with the sounds of Pandora, the chirps and echo of military movement, and the woosh of the action beats, creating a swirling feel of community that keeps the listener engaged” (Orndorf, 2010) This combined with the visual effects creates a stunning spectacle to look at. All the sound effects where recorded live and manipulated by the sound crew on set, however some criticism says they were taken from Jurassic Park as you can distinctly make out the T-Rex and Velociraptors sounds. That aside the sounds mixed for the animals really make the film come alive. Avatar also was nominated for six Oscars three being for; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures and, Original Score and Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.

Illustration List 

Cameron, J (2009) Figure 1. Box art [online]
(Accessed on 19/11/11)

Cameron, J (2009) Figure 2. James Cameron with virtual camera [online] (Accessed on 19/11/11)

Cameron, J (2009) Figure 3. Thanator [online] (Accessed on 19/11/11)


James Berardinelii (2009) [online] (Accessed on 19/11/11)

Brian Orndorf (2010) [online] (Accessed on 19/11/11)

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