Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Avatar (2009)

Fig. 1
James Cameron's Avatar is an epic science fiction film. The script for Avatar was originally written in 1995, but Cameron felt with the lack of technology he would not be able to produce his vision for the world of Pandora. Within the film it is prominent that the visual concepts, set and character design make the film the success it is and together builds an entire eco-system, mostly from CGI (computer generated images), that’s believable to its audience. The film follows Jake, a disabled marine, who has taken his brother's place on a 'space' quest. Whilst on Pandora, the world that Cameron built entirely out of CG, Jake is transformed temporarily into a Na'vi. The Na'vi is the 'alien' population who inhabit the land. Jake then falls for a Na'vi, Neytiri, who teaches Jake about the world and creatures of Pandora. Meanwhile this is happening the milatary, humans, have pledged war upon the world of Pandora in order to take something valuable. The two, Na'vi and humans, fight and after an epic battle, in which set design and CG is visually stunning, in the end the Na'vi's win.  

Peter Bradshaw states, "After a run-up lasting 12 years, James Cameron has taken an almighty flying leap into the third dimension. His first new film for over a decade is in super-sleek new-tech 3D, and it is breathlessly reported to have taken the medium of cinema to the next level." (Bradshaw 2009) Bradshaw states the audiences anticipation for the film is been long awaited and that Cameron hasn't disappointed. Praising the technology, Bradshaw has made it clear that Avatar is a must see and has really evolved the world of cinematography and visual concepts.

Fig. 2
Since Titanic Cameron has felt the pressure to make something just as great, hence why so much media chatter and hype has been built around the film. The fact the set, location, genre is so entirely different to his one of his greatest successes is was questioned if Cameron could deliver. By the amount of praise received from critics and audiences it is clear he has succeeded Chris Hewitt observes, "It was already the biggest film of all time, but for the three people who missed it on the big screen and the millions of fans, the good news is that this swiftly-released Special Edition is less cash-in and more treat. Eight (or so) minutes of extra footage have been added into the film, landing in four main scenes. There’s an extended journey into the forest on Jake’s (Worthington) first trip outside as an avatar, including a visit to the abandoned school where Grace (Sigourney Weaver) once taught the Na’vi." (Hewitt 2009) Hewitt emphasises the success of Cameron and informs about the special edition bonus material.

Production design is the overall style and appearance that illustrates a film. It portrays genre, narrative, location and the visual concepts/ideas behind the film. Avatar’s bold and prominent use of style and high quality computer generated scenes have left audiences stunned. bold and prominent use of style and high quality computer generated scenes have left audiences stunned.

Fig. 3
Sukhey Sandhu observes, "Avatar arrives swathed in hyperbole. It’s meant to be the most eagerly awaited film of the last few years. The most expensive movie ever. The film with the wildest, most breathtaking and out-there digital effects any director has ever hatched up. It’s the envelope pusher, the film that redefines the possibilities of cinema, the work whose trickle-down effects on other artists will be felt for decades to come. At a point in the decade when critics are looking back, this is a film that is meant to be looking forward and boldly going where no film has gone before." (Sandhu 2009) Sandhu, like many other critics, have nothing but praise for this film. It is prominent that the design has a huge part to play for the success of the film. The CGI’s are immense and have a strong colour palette to work in conjunction with. The film uses full colour spectrum throughout, using vibrant shades of greens, purples and blues - neon colours. This is in comparison to recent films using a blue or sepia tint to the frames, hence making Avatar ‘shine’. The fluorescent colours bring the world of Pandora to life and makes something visually spectacular on screen. The lighting is constantly vibrant, even at night the rainforest of Pandora ‘glows fluorescently in the dark’ by the use of carefully designed plants, creatures and overall eco-system. The only point when the colours and lighting are dulled down/aren’t present within the film is when portraying the human’s base camp and when Pandora has been attacked by the humans. Hence, narrative takes on colour and lighting codes, design emphasises the mood and tone of a scene.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Cameron, James (2009) Avatar Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 2. Cameron, James (2009) World of Pandora. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 3. Cameron, James (2009) Pocohontas Love Story. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)


The Guardian Peter Bradshaw (2009) Avatar. At: (Accessed on 14/11/11)

Empire Chris Hewitt (2009) Avatar Special Edition. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

The Daily Telegraph Sukhey Sandhu (2009) Avatar, Full Review. At: (Accessed on:20/11/11) (Accessed on:20/11/11)

No comments:

Post a Comment