As James Cameron’s Avatar progressively rumbles towards beating Titanic’s worldwide box-office record of $1.8 billion, CNN writes of a slightly disturbing side-effect of the film’s globe-gobbling success.
Apparently, Cameron’s beautifully-realised alien world of Pandora was so well realised, that some viewers are complaining of depression emerging from the realisation that it doesn’t exist. On the fan site Avatar Forums, a thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible” filled up with stories from affected fans – so much so that another thread had to be created. People like Ivar Hill summed up the profound sense of melancholy that Avatar prompted:
“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning,” Hill wrote on the forum. “It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”
(Possibly pertinent circumstantial information: Ivar Hill is a) 17 and b) Swedish)
More astounding, though, were comments like this:
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it,” Mike posted. “I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and then everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.’ “
It’s genuinely intriguing to see such a potent reaction to a cinematic fantasy world. I certainly don’t recall such a fervent yearning for a similarly lush (fictional) natural environment like, say, the forest moon of Endor in Return of The Jedi. I must confess that, while watching Avatar at the IMAX in 3-D (the best way to see it), I was certainly stunned by Pandora’s gorgeous vistas and entranced by such visions as a floating mountain range, but any idle desire to relocate to Pandoran climes was tempered by a crucial observation:
Pandora looked pretty goddamned dangerous to me.
Well, it’s the truth, isn’t it? Even in the guise of an agile Pandoran native, a Na’vi, not only would you routinely risk falling hundreds of feet to your death from the branches one of the planet’s super-massive trees – no safety barriers, tut-tut – but you’d also have to habitually face getting your Na’vi nuts ripped off by one of Pandora’s teeming legions of fanged beasties. And, then, there would be the heavily-armed human beings on the hunt for a poorly-named mineral whose primary aim is to turn you in to a Makeshift Lead Repository.
Then again, I was never an outdoors-y type…