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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Intense Blue Period

Right at the beginning of the detailed,“making of” documentary.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: January 1, 2011 10:48:40 pm

Avatar

Extended Collector’s Edition

Excel,Rs 599

Right at the beginning of the detailed,“making of” documentary,James Cameron makes this telling comment: “I wanted Avatar to be so far in front that no one would ever catch up.” In just a year of its release (December 2009),we can safely say that if anyone ever catches up with Cameron,it will have to be the man himself,whenever he finishes making the second part of the film.

The three-disc edition is packed with so much extra material,including an extended cut and about 45 minutes of deleted scenes,that it can keep you busy for hours. The docu takes us through the intricate and extremely complicated steps that make up the film,which was initially supposed to have been made in 1995,very soon after Titanic. But the director realised that there was no way it was going to come together so soon: the technology he needed was simply not ready. “It’s been in my head all my life,” he says,and you believe him. How else do you create a full-blown alien world with tall,blue people called Na’vi and trees of life and gliding reptiles in the kind of astonishing detail that’s evident in each pore of the film?

Avatar was shot in long schedules — two years of a virtual movie,where everything was filmed indoors,on huge,barn-like sets,with cameras that look like nothing we’ve seen,and then a wholly different “live action” movie. Then the films were spliced and made into one.

I have to confess that I wasn’t (and am still not,after a repeat viewing) completely in thrall to the film,which is about a bunch of humans trying to mine a metal called “unobtanium” from the planet Pandora. It is 2154,and humans have basically sucked the Earth dry and are now on the lookout for succour from other worlds. Jake,a paraplegic marine,is used as an “avatar” (a Na’vi-human hybrid body) to,not to put too fine a point on it,act as a spy. The idea is to learn as much as he can about the planet,and soften the natives,so the greedy humans can plunder the precious metal.

The story is humdrum,and that’s my problem with the film. But the execution is,to use an overused word,“mind-blowing”. You can admire the beauty of this world,where creatures flit about on the land and in the sky with a speed unimaginable in ours. One of Cameron’s chief aides says,“It’s a high-tech movie about a low-tech subject,our relationship with nature.” He’s right.

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