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Cyberpunk Review » Avalon
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Comments

January 27, 2006

SFAM said:

Karlo had an interesting post about Avalon in the Site progress, goals page:

“Great idea, great site.
Thank you author, thank you very much. :)
But I’m little suprised by Avalon’s high rating. Yeah, I know it’s a good movie. Maybe a very good but - main character - Ash played by Foremniak is awful! I hate this actress :)
She’s main and most popular actress in polish soap-operas. Imagine - you’re watching CP movie, you’re looking at girl with beautiful gun in her hands and you’re thinking - I know her - yesterday, on the public tv channel, she was crying for many minutes because her dog died or smthg :/”

My response is right afterwards (still trying to figure out the internal trackback things…

[…] I will probably write a separate essay on this, but just to be clear, this viewpoint shows that the Matrix trilogy is the philosophical sequel to Ghost in the Shell (GITS). GITS2: Innocence does not follow Motoko’s journey after she integrates – Neo does. GITS2: Innocence is really a furthering of the philosophies that Oshii advanced in Avalon, meaning that conceptually, GITS2: Innocence is the sequel to Avalon, not the original GITS. […]

February 7, 2006

Piotr said:

Foremniak is awful. She played mainly in polish soap operas. In Avalon her acting is terrible, she does not understand what she says. Mamoru Oshi does not understand polish so he did not care. On IMDB People who can speak polish agree with me.

But you can benefit if you don’t understand polish, you will not be shocked by the acting and enjoy the movie.

February 8, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Piotr, welcome to Cyberpunk Review!

I guess I can’t argue too much with your comments as I don’t know a word of polish. All I can go by is the visuals and her voice emphasis - both of which worked fine for me - very well in fact (I’m guessing this is what Oshii cared about as well). I know a few others who also feel this way about Avalon. But yeah, I’m sure Foremniak comes across different to those in country. Karlo above made a similar comment in that Foremniak is negatively viewed by some for her soap opera performances as well. This too I can’t comment on. All I can say is that as a foreigner who has never seen her before, I did love her in Avalon. :)

EDIT: And again, the ideas expressed in this movie are just terrific.

February 11, 2006

Piotr said:

Ok You are lucky that you don’t know polish. :)
I think that t would be better that Oshii had an assistant director.
How could it be acted good without someone who understands polish.
And its very difficult to act in blue box, so…

I remember that Oshii said in one interview that he choose polish language because it sounded mysterious and he did like.

I will have to see this movie in Japanese version :D

SFAM said:

Hi Piotr, Oshii mentions on the DVD extras that he basically treated the actors like anime characters. All that was important to him was the visual acting and the intonation. From someone who doesn’t speak Polish, this is all I can judge as well. It certainly “seems” very well acted - again, the visual performances fit wonderfully I think, as does her intonation. Again, I can’t guess at the words, but I don’t think I agree with you that A director shouldn’t try directing a film in a language he doesn’t speak. It certainly presents challenges though, and clearly, Oshii’s method works from his standpoint. It is strange though that Polish folks hate this movie. I’ll take your word for it that it doesn’t come across as well to native Polish speakers.

February 12, 2006

Piotr said:

Believe me Foremiank played very very very bad. I have some experience in amateur theatre as an actor.
She speaks like she did not understand what she says, its really terrible!
As I said she is an soap opera actor, and playing in blue box is difficult.
But people who don’t speak polish never notice the bad acting so. Its not so bad for Avalon.
And Yes polish language sounds strange so the artistic effect is achieved(if you don’t understand polish).

As I said You are lucky that you don’t understand polish. :D

But I dot think that Avalon is bad movie. I don’t hate it!
I think that GITS is an masterpiece, Avalon is no match!

Hey all you polish speaking people WATCH THE Japanese version!!!

Some reviews in polish :D
With some short summaries in english

http://www.stopklatka.pl/film/film.asp?fi=6402&sekcja=recenzja&ri=521
“The actors are dead stiff, its a scandal.”

http://www.filmweb.pl/FilmReview?id=3980
“Foremniak is so unnatural that the whole cinema laughed.”

http://www.kultura.org.pl/lupa.php?nid=331
“Foremniak is terrible and spoiled the genius screenplay”

February 17, 2006

Neuromancer said:

There are numerous hints (proof?) that all realities in the movie are part of a simulation.
It could be intended that Ash feels this way herself and this is how the world looks like to her. I mean, from her point of view.
The fun of this movie is that several options are available and we, as a viewer, get to choose the one that suits us best. Kind of like: we choose our own reality. Not only in the movie but in real life as well.
I think Avalon is the real world as we know it and the real reality, Avalon and Class Real are all part of the game. My guess is that Ash is nothing more that a character in a game we, or better Oshii, play this game with. The whole movie is the game.

SFAM said:

Ah, so you see a Thirteenth Floor plot happening here, ey? I’d be interested to hear the proof.

It’s an intrigueing thought, but I don’t buy this. If for no other reason that Oshii uses the dog to represent reality. The interesting shift occurs when the dog leaves “real” reality for Class Real. The other reason is that it seems like the big question Oshii is posing is whether a virtual reality can be more “real” than real reality. If both are fake, the ending question seems to dissipate.

Anonymous said:

Okay, some examples of what i mean:

The “real” world:
A good example would be that Ash experiences exactly the same tram-ride home. No-one even moves or looks at Ash. The people all look frozen. Notice the skies? Not moving.
Another would be that Ash sees the ghost while visiting the hospital. This while the ghost should only exist inside Avalon.
Ash is one of the best Avalon gamers but she never gets any e-mail. We do see her checking for e-mail several times.
We see Ash looking for books but later see the books are nothing but empty covers. Like in a game (read book…nothing more)
At some point Ash prepares a meal for her dog. You know, the long scene with the colours of the food emphasizing its importance. After completing the meal the dog is gone and the sound of the helicopter (from the game Avalon) can be heard.
We can see Bishop watching Ash using a rifle sight from the game.

Avalon:
Most obvious the death scenes, resetting the game and so on.

Class real:
The death of Murphy.
Ash mysteriously seems to acquire clothing, jewelry etc as she walks in the streets.
The disapearance of the orchestra and the appearance of the ghost

You can interpret this is several ways:
- Ash is playing this game which consists of all “realities” in the film.
- Ash is in the game (as a gamecharacter, maybe guided by the actual players)
- We see the real and virtual worlds as Ash perceives them, not as she really sees them. Hence the bleak real world and the vivid class real.
Welcome to Avalon could mean there is another level above class real and Ash enters it (could be reality, exiting the game and returning to the real real world)
it could also mean the game is completed and reset. Welcome to Avalon meaning you can play again (exit, play again, restore save game?)

Anyway, considering the themes in other movies by Oshii it would seem he wants us all make his or her own interpretation. We should stop trying to find out what it is the director actually intended by the script. I think he is making the point that reality is different for all people. Who is to say what is real or not. And who is to say what makes us human or not (like in GITS)?
This is the same in for example a movie like Total Recall. There is more than one reality and we as the viewer get to choose what we believe.

This is a great movie that just like GITS makes us think for ourselves instead of following the Hollywood truths without a mind of our own. It’s great just looking at a movie like this and examining all possibilities to finally find one that best suits your own thoughts on some filosophical issues. Thats what Oshii wants us to do: at least think about some of these issues.

Or i could be completely wrong about all of this. That doesn’t matter either because at least i had some fun thinking about this movie. And that’s a lot more that the visuals of a movie like Star Wars or the next Hollywood blockbuster could ever do.

Forgot to mention this before: like the site, my compliments there!

February 18, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Neuromancer (I’m guessing), great post, great point, and very well defended!

Neuromancer states: Anyway, considering the themes in other movies by Oshii it would seem he wants us all make his or her own interpretation. We should stop trying to find out what it is the director actually intended by the script. I think he is making the point that reality is different for all people. Who is to say what is real or not. And who is to say what makes us human or not (like in GITS)?

I certainly strongly agree that Oshii intended for this movie to be interpreted - the ending scene pretty much demands this. In terms of your examples and their meaning, I definitely see who you come to the impression that everything is part of the game. And really, from my attempt to understand Oshii’s messsage (I do believe he has an intentional one), my guess is he wouldn’t disagree with this in the sense that if “real” reality is constructed, then there really isn’t that much difference at all between the “real world” as depicted, the game or class real - from Ash’s point of view, they are all the same. Her choice is which one does she want to stay in.

Just a side point - Total Recall uses the crazed “continual mindfuck” approach of changing our understanding of the plot at every moment. This, I think, is a cop-out to getting this idea across when compared to something like Avalon, which provides its questions in the context of the narrative. While Total Recall is a fun movie, at least with me, it didn’t prompt nearly the degree of thinking and analysis that Avalon did.

Piotr said:

Total Recall is great!
But I like Running man better!!!
Think about BIG BROTHER stuff!!!!

SFAM said:

Running Man better than Total Recall???? Hmmm….you will not be happy with my review when I get to it. And I do like Total Recall - it’s not bad…its pretty fun. It’s just not as philosophically interesting as something like Avalon. For instance, I didn’t sit around and ponder it, nor was I immediately motivated to watch it again.

February 19, 2006

Neuromancer said:

Yup, it was my comment. Forgot to enter the alias.
I completely agree a movie like Total Recall can’t compare to the depth of a masterpiece Avalon is (IMHO ofcourse).
It was merely used by me as an example where the movie presents more than one storyline and the viewer gets to choose. Just trying to get my point across there.

I also have a suggestion of a movie to add to the reviews: Brazil by Tery Gilliam. Definitely in my all-time top 10 movie list.
Though not as good as Brazil also Equilibrium also comes to mind. Perhaps: Johnny Mnemonic, Impostor and Equilibrium?

Damn, i like this site!

Piotr said:

Yes IMVHO Total Recall is just an decent SF, Dick-alike movie.
“Running man” is an sociological analysis of the nature of people and society.
It could happen in next 5- 10 years. No philosophy(?) there but an sarcastic comment.
Hey, we are animals, don’t we?

Piotr said:

>Running Man better than Total Recall???? Hmmm….you will not be happy with my >review when I get to it.
I curious !!
I’m also seeking argument with philosophical question science fiction!
For example “Predestination”, with was not explored enough.

SFAM said:

Hi Neuromancer, Brazil will definitely be reviewed on this site, and will receive 10 stars (obviously). It’s truly awesome in many ways. It’s not a straight-up cyberpunk movie, but certainly has more than enough to qualify.

Equilibrium is a great movie considering it was made for 20 million. While it does rate pretty well on the cyberpunk visuals, it’s low at best on the themes. But it will be reviewed here as well, probably with a 6 or 7 star rating, depending on how much the gun-kata bugs me when I see it again :)

Johnny Mnemonic is already reviewed and Imposter certainly is on the docket too. I still have a good 30-40 definite movies and animes still to go before I even bother worrying about getting into the “possible” ones like Silent Running and so forth.

SFAM said:

Hi Piotr, my problem with Running Man isn’t with philosophy as much as it is with execution. IMHO, the movie was poorly made. As for this happening in 5-10 years from now, that’s a pretty scary thought!

Piotr said:

Ok you are right!!!
Man, It was made 20 years ago!!!

>Hi Piotr, my problem with Running Man isn’t with philosophy as much as it is with >execution. IMHO, the movie was poorly made. As for this happening in 5-10 years from >now, that’s a pretty scary thought!

February 20, 2006

Neuromancer said:

Looking forward to those reviews!
Another thing i am looking forward is: http://www.scannerdarklymovie.com/ based on the novel by Philip K Dick.
Remember the 90’s miniseries by Oliver Stone called Wild Palms? That one would fit the cyberpunk requirements just fine as well!

SFAM said:

Hi Neuromancer, agreed - Wild Palms does as well. I am going to put up a thread in the meatspace in the next day or two for all the movies I plan to review so far.

And yeah, thanks for reminding me about scanner darkly - I need to make a post about that!

April 7, 2006

Case said:

Like I mentioned elsewhere, I caught this again the other night on Showtime (too lazy to pop in my import DVD, I guess) and was blown away by it all over again. Simply one of the best pure cyberpunk films out there. Period. The end where the coloring changes in the “final level” just shredded my mind the first time I saw it…and it still does. Excellent film. It says a lot when even horrible dubbing for TV doesn’t lessen its impact. *Trivia: Did you know Oshii cast Malgorzata Foremniak as Ash merely (or mostly) because she resembled Motoko from his “Ghost in the Shell”?

SFAM said:

Trust me - the horrible dubbing lessens the impact. It’s better in Polish (um, unless you’re from Poland, apparently). And no, he didn’t mention that on his interview in the extras. She does look a bit like motoko, now that you mention it though.

Case said:

Well, I prefer it in Polish, obviously, but I didn’t think the dubbing hurt it, really…and I LOATHE dubbing, so that tells you something.

April 10, 2006

Hadakàar said:

I saw Avalon in a “italian dubbed” version. Our dubbers often have high quality abilities and i like so much this movie. Overall, excellent interpretation of italian dubber of Muprhy.

a note: Total Recall in italy has been translated as “Atto di Forza”. In english it means “Act of Strength”. Do this happens in other countries too?
Starship Troopers was traslated as “Fanterie dello Spazio”, that’s “Space Troopers”.

Funny.

April 24, 2006

szopen said:

Terminator was translated into Polish as … “Electronic Murderer” (!!!)

As for the movie, I loved it, but I didn’t like how Foremniak played. I kinda (kinda!) liked Murphy’s performance (but he played quite rough sometimes) and Game Master.

Then, it works both way. I remember how surprised I was when I learned that Clooney is considered “wooden” actor.

SFAM said:

Hi szopen, welcome to cyberpunkreview :)

And Clooney has gotten better over the years :)

May 12, 2006

Max_Hugo said:

In 1978 I got my first TI99, from then on I’ve been a cyberpunk.

I’ve waited so many years for a movies to come out like this one Avalon, (ASH) with her PK and the Murphy (was he real?) in a VR state of mind (I don’t type so well it’s hard for me to put to words to thoughts that are in my mind about the movie.)

I would just like to say as Max_Hugo the gamer (not master) there could have been more shadows in the game (I understand it’s a green screen in VR but with low sun light it would of cast more shadows) and to the other gamers that where in Avalon at the same time they took to long to bring the plot into view.

I like the movie as a movie watcher I understand it’e been out for yr’s but I work and game I’m a husband and dad so I don’t get to watch many movies (Gaming is a passion like the one Ash had, the end for me tells the truth WHAT I THINK IS REAL……)

September 13, 2006

Jurek said:

Piotr, I am also Polish and I cannot agree with you at all. You just mislead non-Polish speakers. Foremniak is one of the most popular actresses in Poland and she has a very big fan following. She is pretty, intelligent and a good actress. She played in Avalon at least quite well.
Sorry, but you just show one of our greatest national vices - we, Poles, can’t stand if another Pole is successfull and we can’t live without complaining.

September 19, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Jurek, thanks for stopping by! You’re the first of about 5-6 folks from Poland to comment on this movie in one fashion or another, and so far the only one to really like Foremniak. :)

Considering I totally loved her performance, I’m more than happy to agree with you. Hopefully we get some more comments on this.

February 14, 2007

Com Wedge said:

Hi,

O.K. Once I saw that the review was not written by SFAM I was relieved. I do not speak a word of Polish (Short of knowing what Birds Milk is) but I can see the poor acting. I’m afraid that # Ash: Malgorzata Foremniak and # Murphy: Jerzy Gudejko were both poor casting choices because they simply didn’t work well together. I don’t care if Foremniak is a soap actress and she cries at dead doggies. The point was she was a poor casting choice nuff said.

I absolutely loved the visuals (save for the POOR ending sequence). The design of the characters in and out of the game was fantastic. It would have been nice to see a little less sepia (The brownish colour) as this has become an obvious choice for look and feel for movies of that time. The end, however you wish to interpret, was a bad choice of visually representing the next level.

I enjoyed the film when I saw it however those repetitive tram rides and similar sequences just pissed me off to no end. It did not appear that this game was illegal by any explanation that may have been given to it - In fact it seemed encouraged - was this the point?

A very detailed and complex world filled with B grade actors and superfluous notions of a cyber culture. 4 out of 10.

Com.

SFAM said:

Hi Com Wedge, sorry to disappoint - I wrote the review and am quite happy with Foremniak’s performance.

February 15, 2007

Com Wedge said:

Die! I mean fair enough you have your point of view (I suppose).

oo
~

March 15, 2007

Perditor said:

I see a lot of comments from Polish people about how terrible the main character’s acting is. I haven’t seen this movie, but I can speak from experience having seen a few anime that even in English the words don’t flow very well (at least to me) - I figure this is because the words were originally written in Japanese, and there are a lot of nuances in a language that just don’t translate very often. She might not be all that bad of an actor - the script itself may be a bit awkward.

SFAM said:

Hi Perditor, I think most of the criticism from Polish folks is based on how they know Foremniak. She is an emotive soap opera star there - generally these aren’t actresses people like to see in Sci-Fi movies.

I do wish I could speak Japanese to see if I agree with your word flow part or not. Personally, I was very happy with the English translation in this. But then again, I tend to enjoy many animes, some of which have very nice word flows. I do agree that doing the translation well makes a difference.

March 21, 2007

Ramiz said:

Great movie! I love Oshii. The only thing that bothered me about Avalon was the Polish language. Sorry Polish people ^^ but it was so unfamiliar for my ears; I’m used to Japanese or English when watching cyberpunk and so it was strange. (Although I’m from Middle Europe as well). I loved the movie, I’d give it 8 or 9 from 10.

May 20, 2007

griffinfinity said:

Great movie, great actress in the lead. Loved the music as well. I wanted to go where it took me, I wanted to look at the female in the lead and follow. I wanted to listen to the score. The movie took me to another realm/place. That is what I hope for when viewing a movie, number one, above all other aspects.

I’ve seen quite a few foriegn (to my Los Angeles perspective) films lately and although I have to ‘read’ what they are communicating, they have been well worth the time invested. One of them, Casshern (Japan) was a film so amazing in the visuals department that the dialogue didn’t really matter.

As an extreme gamer, I can say that film is of the same value to the participant: escape into the world of those that believed enough to share the vision…

griff

May 30, 2007

Paradigm said:

This is incredible site. I loved reading all the reviews and posts.
Just wanted to add one thing, and this is purely my conjecture.
I think the significance of the Bassett Hound in all of Oshii’s film, is that it signifies santuary, for the character. This is quite apparent in GitS: Innocence, when, at the end, Batou comes to Togusa’s house to take his dog back. Toward the end of the film, Batou’s longing for the Major has intensified, and although I don’t know if it’s a love or now, his loyalty for her could’ve have gone much further than what happened in the end. Through all the violence and mystery, Batou must’ve felt that what he was doing was to find the Major. But through his progress, we can see that he is becoming doubtful, questioning himself, and possibly what he does in Section 9. So I think it was only natural that seeing his dog, could’ve only brought him back to ‘reality’, a place where his existence could be constant, a sanctuary. A place where he, in the end, chose to return to.
Just my 2 cents.

June 25, 2007

Merzmensch said:

“Avalon” is IMHO one of the best cyberpunk movies about the problems of reality(ies). I’ve seen this movie 14 times to unterstand the messages of Mamoru Oshii. Well, normally I’m not such a movie recidivist, but this masterpiece changed me, hehe. And every time I’ve seen the movie, I’ve got near to the heart of the film, I’ve understood the language of the film.

I can understand a little Polish, so like Piotr said, the actors hadn’t often a clue about what they said. But in my opinion, it wasn’t a minus of the movie, it was surely Mamoru Oshiis intention. In the fact, he has never any errors or goofs in his movies - each time you notice something wrong, you’ve to follow this “mistake”, because this is a key, like a “white rabbit”. The persons in this movie really don’t act like “real people” (well, what’s reality?…), their acting like a puppets or poor actors is the key to authenticity of their persons.

That’s why you can feel the giant gap, the great difference between Ash and the other World (Oups, spoiler) at the end of the movie. (This also isn’t real, indeed).

So this movie is great examination of the reality-problem.

By the way, thank you for your site, this ist quite the right thing I’ve looked for.
And sorry for my bad English.

SFAM said:

Hi Paradigm and Merzmensch, thanks for the compliments on the site. I love it that I can help people find cool movies like this, and also give you a place to discuss them. :)

Merzmensch, take a look at my spoilers page (link at the bottom of the review) I go into my thoughts on the meaning of the ending - I’d be interested in your thoughts.

June 28, 2007

Monolithic Angel said:

Wow, what a great flick. If there was ever a movie that could be considered Cyberpunk it has to be Avalon. It’s not only the visuals, which are great and very cyberpunkish, but its concepts, its metaphors, its message, its depiction of reality as the ultimate barrier to achieve true enlightenment, it’s all here.
And man i love the actress that plays Ash, i think she really nails her part, although she lives in a dehumanized society with all the implications that it carries, she shows a very subtle emotion in those eyes…and she’s a cutie too!
SFAM, i really think this is one of your best reviews, you are right on the spot on every aspect of the film, and it really shows how much you love cyberpunk.

Sniff, i’m gonna stop writing right now before i get all mushy and emotional.

P.S. I apologize for my bad english too!!

November 12, 2007

Xiv Spew said:

I hate to be the lone dissenting voice in the comments of this review, but I honestly did not like Avalon at all. I bought it sight unseen due to the high rating on this site, and I’ve wholeheartedly agreed with all the reviews thus far. Progressing through it, without reading anything about it apart from the review, I expected something wholly different. Though honestly, I shouldn’t. Reading it again, there are no factual errors nor misinterpretations…even the screenshots look great. But watching it for the first time, I couldn’t shake the feeling something was way off; then it dawned on me. Every shot, every line, every set-up was straight out of an excellent anime. The fact that it was shot like a real movie makes me question how successful animation can translate to real life.

Trust me, I’m not trying to be a hater, because the story and concepts the movie brings to life are truly prime cyberpunk material. Especially as a gamer, a lot of the foundation of the story rung very true. Unfortunately, to me the fire in this movie’s belly was dead, bad Polish acting aside (I’ve hung out w/my polish relatives enough to read emotions properly). As previously stated, if the actors were replaced by excellent, even mediocre animation, I would totally be sold on 9 out of 10. Very rarely have the credits started rolling and I’ve instinctvely yelled “THAT’S IT?!?” and ejected the disc in frustration. Obviously, judging from many other’s comments all over the web, Avalon strikes a very strong chord with cyberpunk fans. I only wish I could ride on that boat.

Merzmensch said:

@Xiv Spew

I can really good understand your feeling.
Exactly the same feeling I had the first time I was seeing this movie. A lot of details was just disturbing in an annoying way. But this disturbing was a little strange, a little ambiguous. So I’ve seen the movie more and more times, and every time I was just “Oh, I see now the clue”. So I think, there are always two opinions about that movie: the negative (”sceptic”, “realistic”, “formalistic”, after watching just one time) and positive (”idealistic”, “open minded”, “semiotical trust in the symbolic language of the movie”).

Perhaps I may over-interpret it, but after 4th or 5th viewing of the movie I’ve got the idea, everything in that movie is perfect. The “wooden” Polish acting, for instance - for me it was just a “puppet acting”, because everybody

[spoiler!]

in the world of Ash and in the Battle-Levels is just a simulation, just an AI or something in that way (well, also “our reality” is virtual, but in some high quality way). So the negative view of the movie were “the Polish actors are just reading theit screenplay without actually playing”. The positive view were “these all figures are just bit and bytes, so they speak their programm”.

For example look at the dogs (Oshii Mamoru’s favourite actors :-) ) in these two sepia levels: they are really vivid. OK, the negative viewing were “The dogs cannot act like people, so people are representing the VR, and dogs are just dogs”. The positive, symbolic view were “The dogs are the keys to other realities; while of peoples comatose “living” in their grey virtuality, the dogs can sniff out another realities”. etc. etc.

I honestly found almost in every strange annoying part or element of the movie its conceptual meaning.

So there are various viewings and opinions about this movie, and this makes the movie such great.

November 13, 2007

mamc2501 said:

hi everyone! i love avalon & mamoru shii too ^^

and i made this vid that u hope can see

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=LYg-A8x-y74

I can not even decipher the secret of the film

Things like: that these sculptures of angels appear broken and at the end leaves an already composed?

Why add the scene “stunner” about eating eggs with sausage (at seeing immediately went to get some eggs, too)?

You believe that the commercial “nivea” on the bus was part of the key? (LOL)

I CANT DYING IN PEACE UNTIL THE DAY THAT KNOW DAVID LINCH & MAMORU OSHII

February 24, 2008

apxz said:

Some observations
1.The sky never moves in the “real” world
2.When Ash visits Murphy in the Hospital we see the Ghost inside the same space with all the unreturned.
3. After Ash finds and shoots the Ghost she finds herself back in her chair with all her headgear on. She removes it, we see the dog bowl and then she has her conversation with the Bishop. As she leaves to engage Class Real she walks through the same system of corridors she enters to play the game. We know this because before she enters the stairwell to enter Class Real, she walks through the room where she gets paid, but there is no one there but her.
4. Before she approaches this room she looks into two empty player chambers off of the hallway, one of them has a screen on and it that reads “Stand By”
5. When Ash is entering Class Real she has no shoes, somehow she winds up with a pair for the rest of the movie.

I think the shoe thing is an oversight in the movies production proving that little cues could be mistakes.
I think the whole point of the movie is to question reality, so ultimately Oshii makes it seem as if both worlds could be the real deal. Why have player stations on the “other side” with one of them on standby in the game itself; perhaps to receive the body of whoever losses the conflict in Class Real thus making this area of the game and the entrance to Class Real “real” and part of the game at the same time? Or is the standby room an entry station for the Bishop (which would achieve the same results)? Why have the Ghost in amongst the people in the hospital? How did she get there if she only exists in the game? Why does the sky never move in the “real world” and how do things like dogs vanish in a real world?
Does she shoot the Ghost in the end? I think so. The only way to advance to the next level is to complete the mission, at which point the screen reads “Welcome to Class Real” (as an example). This happens in every advancement she makes throughout the game. Why would the last level be any different? The screen reads “Welcome to Avalon”, the only way for that to happen is to complete the mission. Yes, Ash shoots the Ghost; she is the best there is and ruthless within the game. She knows the answers we don’t because she has completed the game in its entirety.
Why does Murphy give her his bullets? because he loves her and is willing to die to keep her alive (he still does not have all the answers as he has given up the game to stay in Class Real). The only ammunition she has is what is given to her by the Bishop. She takes Murphy’s ammo as a precaution against the unknown: someone would be coming for her… or not?

February 25, 2008

Klaw said:

One thing I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned… I saw the Japanese version with English subs back in 2002 before Miramax released this, and was incredibly impressed. Recently I watched the Miramax version and was seriously disturbed about what a hack job it is, and wondering if much of the confusion and dislike of the movie is due to that.

I can point to one part of the film it’s painfully clear… before Ash enters the game at one point she is speaking with the Gamemaster. In the original version I saw, they discuss the historical meaning of Avalon, King Arthur, and Odin… and the GM mentions Morgana tricks Odin by putting the helm of forgetting on him, to keep him trapped in Avalon… right as Ash puts on the VR helmet. In the Miramax version… this whole sequence is translated with no mention of Arthur or Odin… only some jibberish about “it’s dangerous in their today” and “be careful”. Completely lost poignant meanings with this crap translation. If this is mentioned earlier my apologies, I noticed this a few weeks ago and was so pissed I didn’t finish watching it again… one of my favorite movies.

March 23, 2008

Klaw said:

Avalon has recently been released to BluRay, although it’s a Bandei Japanese release and very expensive ($100 US at present). But quality level of the transfer is markedly improved over any previous DVD or SD DVD release, which were a bit fuzzy considering this was all digitized and post processed. Here’s a link for the rich few who can upgrade and hopefully a cheaper US release is imminent.

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews34/avalon_blu-ray.htm

March 24, 2008

CSuk said:

I have been an anime fan for years and I love the work done in GITS 1 and 2 but this just left me totally cold. I’ve seen better animated actors give it more feeling. The character of Ash was just wooden and bland…the same as the film. There was no reason to have to think about anything deep in this movie as it was just completely shallow. Such a shame because when I knew it was an Oshii film I was really looking forward to watching it. I’m not Polish but even I knew that Malgorzata Foremniak hadn’t a clue about the role she was meant to be playing. The music and the use of sepia was however excellent.

Stick to anime Oshii.

October 5, 2008

jjw said:

This is very interesting. I’m very surprise note for this movie. In Poland movie is not very popular, however personally I think is ok. Some frames was made on the places when I lived, part of the Wrocław City, call “Bermudian Triangle”, very famous, because in the past, even today, many “people” disappeared in this place:) Real slums, real crime, real dangerous. First photos was made next to my flat, where underground still is some drink-bar which serve beer, vodka and boxing (head to head). Very good choice for CP movie !!!
I’ve seen some Polish “cyber-punk” movies, however not so many. “Superwizja” (EN: Supervision - You are slave of television ?) for example, or “Wojna światów” (EN:War of worlds with Roman Wilhelmi) - well, are very good.
Very interesting movie, base on Stanisław Lem story, “Pilot Pirx test” has been made with cooperation with CCCP (197x ???). FX maybe not so good like in “Blade runner”, but authors asked the same question: Who are You, human ?

Merzmensch said:

@jjw

Interesting! Thank you for sharing the titles of Polish cyberpunk movies. Are there more such movies in Ploand? I also very like Polish movies. So Mamoru Oshii was great fan of Wajda, that’s why the majour figure has the name “Ash” (from Ashes and Diamonds, Popiól i diament).

December 9, 2008

kojiki said:

Something about polish - russian SF movie “Pilot Pirx test”.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080010/

I have watched this movie when i was about 10 years old. I couldn’t sleep after and i was thinking: are those around me real humans or am i being tested? :)

December 30, 2008

Bg said:

I didnt expect such high note, this movie was totally underrated in Poland while Malogarzata was quite famous actress. Maybe ill check it, i heard about this movie years ago but, i totally forgot about it.

Bg said:

@kojiki

Its worth mentioning that its based on Lem’s novel. But i cant tell much about movie.

January 21, 2009

isis said:

nice movie

it seemed a bit weird to me first , but ended up a great movie

August 23, 2010

Voidable said:

The theme revolving around this movie appears to be existentiality as with other Mamoru movies. Many people do not seem to understand what the movie is about so I will summarize my interpretation.

It’s about a young polish girl so isolated from society that she adopts a deathly escapist mentality in which so she engages in an illegal gaming activity with a risk of potential harm. (People injured in the game are handicapped in real life.) This is a reflection of society as people seek thrills and highs etc. such as drugs and cigarettes. The dreary colours of her surroundings in the movie are a reflection of Ash’s thoughts and feelings.

Ash’s only attachments to life appear to be her dog…and even less so her ex lover. She appears unable to communicate due to an idealistic lack of trust: for instance her sneer when other gamers or the reception workers attempt to make conversation with her.

Slight Spoiler: Towards the end, Ash’s foray into a “better reality” reveals that even then, she is not enjoying the new life or setting. She does not slow down to marvel, not even in the opera scene. She is focused on her intent of beating the game.

Then the end does come of course. And it appears to be letters on the screen. The real interpretation of this to me, is that although she has reached her end objective, she finds nothing there but the cold, sad reality of her realizing that there was never any meaning beyond everything she had come through so far. In fact, it may even reveal her inhumanity from the choices she had made with her time.

To me Avalon represents a story of youth estranged from understanding a better purpose in life.

Cheers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie though I do not share these believes as I’m Christian. Email me if you have any view points :)

August 4, 2012

Yogen said:

Bought it because it was real cheap and I didn’t like it, as a gamer, I was offended most of the time by the nonsense that takes place the whole movie

August 5, 2012

merzmensch said:

That’s it. The first time I’ve seen the movie I also had the same feeling, and wondered about all that nonsense - but believe me, everything has it’s meaning in that movie. Even the sometimes miserable acting of the actors. This movie is a huge riddle, which is waiting to be solved - and it can be solved.

September 10, 2012

theairburns said:

Avalon had such a profound impact on me that I ended up indulging three consecutive viewings, and I think it best not to read other posts here until I write out my interpretive speculations.

In the opening sequence we see our protagonist Ash involved in a virtual reality war game mission that she successfully completes. Only a select number of persons can play this game called Avalon, and an even more select number who get paid to play after they have demonstrated exceptional skill. Ash is the preeminent player.

Players go to an assigned room at what is called a terminal branch, where large numbers of spectators gather in an open club-like room to view a large holographic projection of the war game. These clubs are run by a “Terminal Manager” appointed by state functionaries called Bishops. Later in the film it is discovered that these terminal managers can, like the bishops, enter the game at will without using the terminal access technology that players have to use. The terminal manager that Ash uses tells her at one point that “Avalon is just a game [that can be cleared]” but that Special Class A, where Ash wants to go to find Murphy, the man she obsesses on (I would say loves), isn’t a game anymore, but a hidden-away, forbidden field outside of what can be controlled in the game.

The game is the exclusive form of entertainment for disillusioned youth and young adults trapped in a desolate, totalitarian wasteland, much like what was portrayed in Radford’s “1984” and Gilliam’s “Brazil”. Passive participation as spectators in the game is their only escape from their misery, and it is the best device the state has to control the minds of this group most prone to rebel.

We never see any ruler in this society, only two state functionaries, a terminal manager and a bishop. The latter is a person who had early on mastered the game and was then offered a job at controlling the game for the State.

The problem for the State, however, is that the game was originally designed by a radical, even subversive, computer programmer who goes by the code name Nine Sisters for reasons that become obvious: the game was designed to mirror the Legend of King Arthur and how heroic warriors are eventually led to Avalon, a realm of eternal reward, free from the repetitive horror stories that we humans devise. This seems to have been the plan of Nine Sisters from the beginning: she/he took on the entire State, providing a path in virtual reality for those heroic enough to escape from the absolute and everlasting tyranny of the State.

The State has no choice. At first it outlaws the game, but soon realizes that the illegality of the game only inspires the youth even more to pursue it, the only form of rebellion available to them. So the State opts to keep the game as well as its illegality as a continued attraction under the guise of its being dangerous (a player could become brain-dead playing it) while simultaneously infiltrating it to take control of it and hopefully catch up with and destroy Nine Sisters’ hidden program—the ultimate escape from the totalitarian state into a life more abundantly.

The state functionaries make great headway in taking control of the game itself, but fail miserably at getting to Class Real, the heart of Avalon’s hidden program. Although, at great expense to the State, the bishops have been able to gain partial access to the door to Class Real called Special Class A, but even this partial access is granted by Nine Sisters in his/her effort to get the heroes to Class Real. For example, Ash after entering Special Class A becomes more real than she ever has as a digital representation and extension of her self, but the bishop can only enter that realm on a monitor, not in person. Nine Sister is simply a genius that never met his/her match (we never discover who she/he actually is, but the implication is that he/she is immortal in the virtual reality landscape, her/his flesh having totally coalesced with his/her digital representation/extension).
The best way to advance in the game, becoming more powerful and making lots more money, is by joining a “Party” of persons with different skills like analyzing data, scouting and warring. It is almost impossible to reach the highest realm without joining a Party. Ash had belonged to a party called Wizard, the most renowned and seemingly invincible Party the game ever had (which made me suspect that Ash, Murphy and Stunner had become a series of clones through centuries of State control). But during a particular battle one of the members pushes a “reset” button when in the face of danger, which can have dire consequences, and in this case it left them all brain-dead (it’s possible no one hit reset but they were simply defeated because of a cowardly action on the part of Stunner, their scout-guide—it’s left up in the air of speculation). The three main members of Wizard—Ash, Stunner and Murphy, the leader—all become brain-dead (“Unreturned”) and become trapped in their digital selves inside the game, for the longer you play the game the more your physical (bio-chemical-neurological) existence coalesces with your digital self. But Murphy is the first to analyze the data and discern that this being trapped in the game is not a bad thing, but a plan by Nine Sisters to liberate him from the totalitarian regime, and that is what he begins to pursue and succeeds.

Once Ash is trapped in the game, the state functionaries create a program inside the game constituting her habitual “real life” environment that just keeps looping. But Nine Sisters is able to move into any part of the game at will, and always appears as a ghost, not just outside Special Class A, but in places like the hospital where the Unreturned reside in comas. Nine Sisters also provides a singular clue to what life is like in the hidden program of Avalon with the presence of dogs in the game, not only Ash’s dog, but dogs in other places that always appear more real than the adults who own them (these pets have a hyper-reality in the game, in my view, because in the beginning Nine Sisters had used real dogs that over time, like humans, coalesced with the digital world, and because they coalesced the longest, from the beginning, their digital selves are more real than the human digital selves). It wasn’t the state functionaries that provided Ash with a pet (they are too cold and distant to accomplish that) but Nine Sisters, and the first clue that Nine Sisters is leading Ash to the hidden program of Avalon is when her dog disappears—the only creature that is “real” to her—and she is moved subconsciously to go after it.

The State’s functionaries called Bishops work tirelessly at great cost to find a way to destroy the hidden program because their employers, like all tyrants, despise any semblance of freedom (O’Brien, the interrogator in “1984” tells Winston when he’s stretched out on the torture rack, “Winston…if you want to see a picture of the future, picture a big black boot stepping into the face of humanity into eternity.”)

We only get to see one bishop in the film, one of the “successors to the Apostles”, the original group formed by the oligarchs to control the game and find a way to destroy Nine Sister’s hidden program. The bishop we see, in trying to convince Ash to strive to become a bishop for the state, explains to her what her purpose would be: “Ash…you know which is the better game: One you think you can clear but can’t…or one that looks impossible but isn’t…Finding that subtle balance…and maintaining it up through all the levels…is our side’s job.” In other words, the State now knows after possibly centuries that the immortal Nine Sisters will always be nine steps ahead of the State, but that is no reason not to fight. But whereas the tyrants cling to hope for success, much like governmental leaders of our time cling to the hope of war as a means toward some good, the functionaries have learned to just enjoy the fight itself—the meaning is in playing the game the best you can and nothing else, and because Ash is a master game-player, the bishop is confident that this is the best enticement to have her come over to their side and work for the State, fulfilling her deepest longing: The fight itself IS THE GAME which is the only meaning in life for warriors.

To get a better sense of all this one can consult the writings of Marshall McCluan, the 20th century Canadian philosopher who got the ball rolling in understanding technology as the extension of man. Or consult that memorable scene in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey where our ape-like ancestor discovers a weapon. He becomes so enthralled after using it successfully in battle, that he flings it high into the air, and the scene shifting in that moment to the future, the weapon now appearing as a spacecraft in flight. And with the digital age the monitor is now the ultimate extension of man, first explored in Cronenberg’s Videodrome, and then The Matrix, and then the ultimate artistic expression in Avalon.

With the death of God, or, more accurately, the death of a glut of misrepresentations of God, especially by Christians, comes the death of transcendence, and something must replace it, and the analogous digital realms of high abstraction dominate in this field. What was once promised by Judaic-Christian prophets is now promised by technocrats.

In the end what makes Oshii’s masterpiece amazing beyond comprehension to me is that although it combines all the mystical traditions East and West, including that of the Greek pagan culture, analogously, it is the Christian symbolism that dominates in pointing towards what is good, even though the Catholic Church hierarchy is specifically used analogously to denote the corruption of functionaries and what is inherently evil in how they can so easily abuse their power, even seek to abuse it, and in light of the child sexual abuse scandal the evidence is in. But the Church’s main opposition for over two thousand years has been the gnostic impulse that reaches for higher spiritual ground by separating from the body and living in pure spirit; but Oshii does not succumb to this kind of spiritual quest. Like Jews and Catholics, he wants to have his cake and eat it to, to have spirit coalesce with flesh, made visible when Murphy bleeds at the end.

September 28, 2012

Sonny de Chiba said:

First of all, let us clear few things. I’m Polish, so I can truly see, hear and judge the quality of the acting in Avalon.

And the acting is abysmal. There were theories: “well, maybe it was supposed to be like this, maybe Oshi meant it to be this way”.

Wrong. Oshi said he was only concerned with the actors’ intonation. He didn’t even try to direct them properly. Sorry for being blunt, but I have masters degree in art, been publishing quite a lot of movie reviews during last 15 years or so. I’ve seen thousands of movies and believe me, I can tell good acting from bad. And I can tell, when an actor plays the emotionless person, and when he/she has absolutely NO CLUE, what she’s playing and why. Foremniak’s case (as well as with almost all the other actors in the movie) is the second one.

Oshi isn’t a good feature movie director, period. He did a masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell, but Avalon is just a mediocre movie which proved that GITS was kind of accident. For me, Oshi is like Orson Welles, a director of one movie.

Avalon, let’s face it, lacks depth. We can agree that it’s about what the reality is, and what it isnt, but that’s all. Not a lot.

The visual concepts of the movie suffers from time to time from low funding, and the camera work is very bad. The choice of video-like camera cotraficts the sepia effect. If you want to see how Avalon should look like, see some Piotr Szulkin movie, like Ga Ga, or Obi Oba:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3nMXTf85J0
BTW, acting in Szulkin movies was brilliant, and somehow he was able to direct an actor to act brilliantly, even when he needed them to act like emotion-less individuals.

I was baffled when I saw Nirvana, a movie much better than Avalon (and treating about the same topic, but telling about it with much more depth), being ranked lower than Oshi’s failure. Well, I guess it’s the case of someone being Oshi’s fanboy.

Summa summarum: Avalon could be a great movie, but the director didn’t gave it a chance to be the one.

And if you ask yourself (or me), what’s good then, I tell you:

See Tarkovsky (Solaris, Stalker)
See Szulkin (Wojna Swiatow, Ga Ga, Obi Oba)
See Kubrick’s 2001.
Of cyberpunk movies: Blade Runner, Nirvana, Cypher.

Damn, even Omega Doom is substantially better than Avalon. It certainly has much betten actress playing person without human emotions - Tina Cote.

December 23, 2012

Shella said:

Leaked trailer of “Avalon: 2″.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY-ghl76Iw4

December 26, 2012

apxz said:

Wow, that’s quite a construct you put forth theairburns. I have never seen the uncut version and have been seeking it out for some time. Does anyone have a link to its location?

January 23, 2013

rell said:

I watched assault girls that was the alternative but worse

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