Seeing isn’t always Believing

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Everyone is telling me to see the James Cameron film Avatar. Everyone. Go see it right now, they say..and make sure you see it in Imax 3D. I had dinner with friends last night and both of them leaned across the restaurant table and urged me to attend. I was at a birthday party last weekend and guests I’d never met made exactly the same pitch. Both my sons have told me to get with the program. It’s a lot of pressure.

I will get there eventually..although I must confess to being a pretty stubborn bastard sometimes. Often, the more people tell me to do something, the greater the resistance I feel toward doing it. Don’t exactly know what that means.

Though I have not yet seen the film, I have read a lot about Avatar. It takes you to another world, which is what a good movie should do. But….and here’s the whole point to this post….I watched Lawrence of Arabia again the other day and it took me to another world too. And it did it without a single frame of computer-generated imagery.

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I don’t trust my eyes in movies any more. None of us should. If you watch a scene with any more than about eight people you can’t be really sure that all of those entities are true-blue, fleshy human life forms. So what, right? Who cares as long as the overall visual effect is pleasing..or stunning..or awe-inspiring. Well, folks, I don’t like to have my awe inspired by anything other than the real thing. I like my awe to be earned. Now, in a science fiction film you have to take a flight of fancy. If it’s another world..truly, another world you are trying to create…then use all the computer generated imaging you want. But if it’s this world..the one I’m walking around in every day…well, I still have a soft spot in my heart for genuine depiction. And that means using real people..hundreds of ’em..hell, thousands of ’em, if need be!

That`s why a film like Lawrence of Arabia is still such an eye–opener. Those are all real people, all real horses…every camel was a real smelly, noisy, cantankerous camel. When you combine the logistics of all that with the extraordinary scenery (again, all of it real..though Aqaba was recreated) and a musical score that cements itself in the back of your mind (for decades), you have a movie experience that really can`t be duplicated. Oh, they could try. They could try to remake Lawrence. I suppose a younger Jude Law could have substituted for Peter O`Toole. But all of the background would be fake. Those extraordinary sand dunes, the vistas, the incinerating sun..would be courtesy of  the good folks at Industrial Light and Magic. Who`s going to bother with a herd of real camels when you can animate the screen with Disneyesque dromedaries?

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The truth is that I appreciate Lawrence of Arabia even more now because I know that David Lean spent close to a year and a half in the desert with sand in his coffee mug trying to make it. It won the Oscar as best picture just as Avatar may do. These are different times and these are different movies. I wasn`t really trying to compare apples to oranges here except to say that, well, they sure don`t make apples like that anymore.


6 Responses to “Seeing isn’t always Believing”

  1. If it is any consolation, I haven’t seen Avatar yet either. Call me a movie snob or whatever, but I just don’t go for the usual schtick that everyone else goes for, and I think id I did see it, I’d probably walk out wishing I had spent my $15 on something else.

    Now, if you are looking for the real thing, the opposing nominated film ” The Hurt Locker” is a gem. A real look into the mind of a soldier overseas, in his own personal struggles with issues we all relate to in different ways. No flights of fantasy in computer generated glory, just some good old fashioned, first rate acting.

  2. Dave:

    Same as everyone else I am a fan. Especially of you and Simi on BT. You could take that on the road.

    I’d be interested in hearing you blog on what you think of Urban Farms.

    Whatever you want to do – you can. You’ve got IT!

    • Zanie, by Urban Farms are you referring to the push to have Vancouverites raise chickens in their backyards? Or is Urban Farms some other program I’m not familiar with?

  3. I have not seen Avatar and don’t plan on seeing it. I, too, been told “go see it!” “It is awesome” and so on it goes. I like seeing movies too with real people in it. Foreign films are what I like to watch mostly.

    • Dawn Bennett Says:

      I’ve seen both Avatar and The Hurt Locker and they’re both excellent. James Cameron wanted to do Avatar before Titanic but the technology just wasn’t there. It took him 14 years to create the cameras and lenses he needed. Now if that isn’t dedicated, I don’t know what is.

      Dave, don’t let your stubborness make you lose out:) Avatar is one of the few movies that really deserves to be seen on the big screen. Yes, there are plenty of amazing special effects but there’s also a real heart to this move that may surprise you.

  4. Chris Blaney Says:

    Hi Dave: Seeing as you said you might see Avatar “one day” we can pick you up a copy of it on DVD for 25 pesos in Puerto Vallarta. That way you don’t have to go to shell out big bucks at a theatre and you can watch it in the comfort of your home on your new HD TV; with a drink in hand! All the best to you and Angie.

    Chris & Lorna

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