What is a movie? What are they supposed to do and what sort of effect are they meant to have on those who view them? I suppose these are questions whose answers reside in the province of opinion, and so, I mean to have no authority on the subject, instead, I will merely wax poetic.
As I see it, movies are something of a magic show, a cinematic presentation of a feature length magic trick which has no magician but those who constructed the trick before the show began. They are supposed to whisk us away to some foreign local we can't, for the majority, ever hope to visit in this life. They are meant to leave us euphoric and questioning the reality behind the show.
In 1959, theaters saw record crowds lining up for a new William Wyler picture that had been hyped, promoted and marketing without mercy. "Ben Hur" was one of, if not the biggest, movie that had been released and they made no attempt at hiding it. Back in the 50's there were still remnants of 'movie magic' where viewers would be 'wowed' or 'amazed' by what they were witnessing, and although they had no idea how it was happening, or if it was happening, they enjoyed, whooped and hollered, laughed and cried as if the chariot race was kicking up dust for them to choke on forthwith. It was a magic trick and it blew peoples mind's.
Modern audiences, through no fault of their own, have grown desensitized to the power of a movie. If we see space ships sailing across the screens we think nothing of it; just another night at the movies. If we see a man shot and killed on screen do we feel as if a man has really been murdered? No. Imaginations ran wild in the days of old and to go see a picture was an escape, not from their day, but from the world. Today, movies have the same quotient of enchantment as game of lawn bowling. They exist merely to pass the time.
51 years since, the world has been given another 'Ben Hur'. A man had a vision that movies could once again be a magical experience, one where the viewers knew no time or space, no race or religion, they simply watched in awe. We were shown a world that not only was foreign to us, as movies have continued to do through the years, but revealed a world that the audience yearned to visit, and some would have gladly stayed. Animals we had learnt not of, languages our ears had never heard and people we knew not, all fused and fed our dormant, not dead, but dormant imaginations. "Avatar" is not only an achievement, it's a gift.
writing under the influence,