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Video Myths in the Making

The Avatar Blues. Why Pandora’s 3D Digital World is a Film History Urban Myth in the Making by Kersh Media. First published in the Dover Express newspaper.

The popcorn cost nearly as much as the tickets, but taking the kids to see James Cameron’s movie Avatar in 3D last week really was a terrific experience. The filmís breaking all box office records and itís easy to see why. In case you havenít seen it, itís an amazing 3D spectacle which transports you to an imaginary planet called Pandora.The 3D is not gimmicky, but engages you, draws you in and makes you feel youíre really there. I certainly felt I was watching something innovative and significant.So while I was still in the cinema, I found myself wondering how film historians would write about Avatar and its effect on audiences.

This week came the first clues. A number of posts to internet forums appeared expressing feelings of post-Avatar depression. Viewers say they wish Pandora was real and say the film makes real life appear second best. The phenomenon is called the Avatar Blues.

“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first timeî wrote one teenager, who calls himself Eltu, ìThe world seemed gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning. I live in a dying world”.

It’s quite possible historians of the future will write; “Back in the early Twenty First Century, audiences felt waves of despair after watching Avatar; many killed themselves after watching it because they could no longer distinguish between reality and illusion”.

I was reminded of other exaggerations and urban myths about film.

In 1896 the French Lumiere Brothers filmed a train moving towards the camera. The history books will tell you that, ìAudiences fled in terror, fearing being run over by the “approaching” trainî. How foolish they were back in 1896!

Similarly, in the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, there is a scene where the robber points his pistol at the camera and fires. The history books describe how, “Many people who saw the film thought that they were actually about to be shot and screamed in fear or hid under their seats”. How backward they were in 1903!

Theyíre good stories, but unfortunately they’re untrue. Theyíre huge exaggerations which have gone down in popular folklore and been accepted as historical fact. In 2045, when my grandsonís studying Film History at the University of Kent, heíll probably ask me how I reacted to Avatarís digital 3D trickery. Perhaps Iíll think up something good to tell him.

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