The argument that films provoke copycat behaviour and extreme actions is an old one. Of course we have seen instances in which this is the case. For example A Clockwork Orange and Natural Born Killers were just two of many said to cause violence. However Avatar seemed to have a different effect.
For those who haven’t seen it, the film is set in year 2154 on Pandora, a planet that’s native Na’vi race are far more noble, spiritual and pure than we could ever hope to be. Perhaps that is why the films fans have found it so difficult to return to the reality that is our own world.
Recently, internet chat forums on film’s fan sites have imploded with viewers reporting feelings of depression after seeing the film. One chat room in particular had to be closed after posts reached more then 1,000. According to The Times, one chat room had a thread named “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible”, in which fans displayed repulsion at the reality of life on earth after witnessing the beauty of Pandora.
A typical post reads, “After I watched Avatar for the first time, I truly felt depressed that I was awake in this world again.” Another reads, “It’s so hard, I can’t force myself to think that it’s just a movie, and to get over it, and that living like the Na’vi will never happen”. While one, on the website, Naviblue.com, simply says: “I want to go to Pandora because life here sux, with no sense of companionship, and because mankind has destroyed our planet.”
On the same website, one fan claims that, “I even contemplated suicide, thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora, and that everything will be the same as in Avatar.”
Of course the immersing 3D technology will contribute to the viewers experience of watching the film. New film technologies mean that cinema is far more absorbing than ever before, giving the outside world a lot to live up too.
Dr Gordon Claridge, a professor of abnormal psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Claridge, says that he believes that Avatar’s use of 3-D, and its approximation of reality, is the key. “The closer a movie gets to reality, the more it has the ability to move you,” he says. “If something is written fiction you need to use your imagination to visualise it. But if it’s 3-D, and very realistic, it can become difficult to distinguish from reality in that moment.”
Of course this is not the case for everyone and is certainly not a reason to miss this film. Actually, perhaps the fact this film makes people think about how our world could be a better place, is all the more reason to get in the popcorn and drinks and enjoy this thought provoking piece of cinema.