I read an article in the paper today about an Avatar Web Forum for people who have been enchanted by Pandora, the brightly coloured world of James Cameron’s new blockbuster Avatar. The article was referring to a thread in which people with their own Na’vi names were discussing different ways of coming to terms with the non-existence of Pandora and the tedium of living in the real world. Heading over for a look, I found people wanting to learn Na’vi (the language spoken by the blue inhabitants of Pandora), comments on the actual possibility of floating mountains, ‘Other World Theory’ which allows places like Pandora to exist, instructions for ‘lucid dreaming’. There are even people considering suicide or drug induced coma so they can escape this world in the hope of visiting Pandora. These are people who take this very seriously indeed.
I went to see the film at the new IMAX in Newcastle, and it was a 3D visual overload – Pandora looked something like the way I imagine my son sees the world when he’s had too many blue smarties – but it was two hours and forty minutes of fantastic blockbuster fun which stayed in my mind, on and off, for the rest of the day. I think the colours were seared into my retinas. But I haven’t really thought about it since then – at least not until now. Not so for those other people, though. Cameron has created (well, he’s used CGI to put on screen) a world which some people actually want to inhabit and want to believe exists. I guess it’s kind of like Middle Earth fans wanting to be Aragorn. Or Trekkies learning Klingon. Or Star Wars fans wanting to be a Jedi.
I’m sure it was Cameron’s aim (not the suicide or drug induced coma thing), just as it is every director or writer’s aim, to offer a believable world filled with believable characters surrounded by an engaging and thought-provoking story. I guess he succeeded. But I really hope that those people who can’t live without Pandora find a way to cope. I mean, there are a few good things about this place, right? For instance, I didn’t see any beer in Pandora. Or decent toilet facilities (which would horrify my wife more than any of Pandora’s multicoloured beasts). Hmm, there’s that Leona Lewis song that kinda grates. Oh, and the Na’vi didn’t seem to wash or eat or read or watch films or… or update their Facebook status. What kind of a world would that be?