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Avalon (2001)

Original Title : Avalon
Director : Mamoru Oshii
Writer : Kazunori Itô
Genre : Animation
Sci-Fi
Country : Japan
Language : Japanese
Producer : Tetsu Kayama , Atsushi Kubo , Naoyuki Sakagami , Toru Shiobara , Shigeru Watanabe
Music : Kenji Kawai
Photography : Grzegorz Kedzierski
Distributor : A-Film Distribution [nl]
IMDB ID : 0267287
Official site : http://www.avalon-movie.com/index.asp
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poster for "Avalon" by Mamoru Oshii (2001)
Avalon (2001) - Mamoru Oshii
 

Starring

Malgorzata Foremniak Ash
Wladyslaw Kowalski Game Master
Wladyslaw Kowalski Game Master
 

Plot

In a future world, young people are increasingly becoming addicted to an illegal (and potentially deadly) battle simulation game called Avalon. When Ash, a star player, hears of rumors that a more advanced level of the game exists somewhere, she gives up her loner ways and joins a gang of explorers. Even if she finds the gateway to the next level, will she ever be able to come back to reality? Gloomy portrayal of the near future in an imaginary town in Central Europe, shot in Poland (Polish is also spoken). The town is dirty and chaotic. Computer games have lost their innocence: they are addictive and large sums of money can be won. Ash lives alone. She doesn't have any contact with other people, only with her dog. Her only activities are cooking meals for the dog and playing games. She is a professional Avalon super warrior, a player on the top-level, that is only accessible under very specific conditions. Once a player is inside, they can only stop by winning the game. Otherwise the player can die. Ash ignores all warnings and decides to play anyway.
 

Comments

Unique aesthetic experience Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell, Patlabor) and possibly the most expensive Japanese movie ever or something, Avalon is a curious mixture of live action and CG that presents quite a unique visual experience. The story is based around a virtual reality game (Avalon), and one of its top players (Ash), who begins hearing rumours about a secret level and decides to go exploring. It was shot entirely on location in Poland, in Polish, which was quite a bizarre choice. This is perhaps one of the reasons it doesn't feel remotely like a Japanese movie. In fact, it doesn't feel remotely like anything else. The CGI usage isn't that heavy, just limited to the scenes inside the game. There aren't too many of these, but they are simply incredible. It's quite a violent game (as games usually are) but this is lessened by the fact that people turn flat and shatter into little polygons when they get shot. The mix here of live action (with the Polish army providing heavy weaponry) and CGI / image manipulation is really effective. The visual style is carried out of the game too, with a heavily desaturated image, and dark run-down Polish locations &, raggedy costumes being the fashion - all feels vaguely World War II. The production design throughout the movie is excellent. Very nicely shot too. Outside the games, the action disappears, and is replaced by intrigue. It's not a dialogue heavy movie by any standards, so most of the intrigue is carried simply by the atmosphere that the visuals and soundtrack create. Did I mention how fantastic the soundtrack by Kenji Kawai (GHOST IN THE SHELL) is? This isn't a movie where you'll get far if you keep trying to stop and analyse it all - I doubt if it makes much sense - just get absorbed into the mood. The ending of the movie provides absolutely no resolution to the story whatsoever, but I didn't let this worry me. When it finished I wanted to watch it again immediately, but managed to resist since it was already midnight. Guess I liked it quite a bit :D Probably not a movie for everyone though.
 
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Avalon (2001) - Mamoru Oshii
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Avalon (2001) - Mamoru Oshii
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Avalon (2001) - Mamoru Oshii
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