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Sci-fi is back with a bang

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Wholesome entertainment Films like Avatar appeals to all sections
Wholesome entertainment Films like Avatar appeals to all sections

If not for visual and audio effects, Avatar is a film to be watched for its content, writes Sumit Bhattacharjee

Science fiction films have always appealed to all generations, young and old alike.

The films are a genre by itself and they contain all the ingredients of entertainment that one looks for.

They have action, emotion, a relevant theme and most importantly they transport the audience to a new created world.

All sci fi films are futuristic in nature, and that is exactly what makes them stand apart from the other mainstream cinemas.

They are explorative in nature and delve into the realms of ‘make believe' and transcendentalism.

Time and over, in almost every filmmaking countries, directors and producers have tried their hand in making sci fi films. The recent blockbuster Avatarby James Cameron once again relives the saga of sci fi films.

Science fiction films are not something new that the present generation can boast of. The genre has existed since the era of silent cinemas.

It was Georges Melies who first dished out a sci fi film by name A Trip to the Moonor Voyage dans la Lune.

He amazed the then audience with trick photography and it caught the imagination of the people. Subsequently, many films were made till 1920s, while a few bombed at the box office, a few topped the chart.

Films like Frankenstein(1910), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912), were all considered to be science fiction films and were given cult status.

But the film that really gave a fillip to the genre was Stanley Kubrick's landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 1968.

In early 1930's the genre also gave face to an iconic character in the shape of Flash Gordon.

Modern era

In the early part, sci fi films were mostly explorative in nature and exploring the moon was the rallying point. Slowly the theme moved to planets and later to distant galaxies and to the creation of alien characters. Many seasoned directors like George Lucas, James Cameron and even Steven Spielberg experimented with the genre.

The release of two films in 1977: George Lucas's Star Wars and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the third kind; gave a new definition to the sci fi films. Lucas's Star Wars later developed to a sequel theme. The characters of the film became household names and they caught the imagination of all.

James Cameron himself dished out a number of films in this genre before the latest Avatar; like The Terminator in 1984, Aliens in 1986, The Abyss in 1989 and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Avatar

Special effects have been the hallmark of all science fiction films. Be it Close encounters of the third kind or Star Wars or Aliensor for that matter the latest to hit the screen, Avatar; effects- both- visual and audio have been the main ingredients for their success.

If Lucas made best use of the technology then available like anamorphic lenses, Panavision, and Sony's CineAlta high-definition digital cameras, Cameron in Avatar is believed to have employed the motion-capture animation technology.

Though the script for Avatar was ready immediately after the release of his epic film Titanic, Cameron himself said that he would wait till he acquires the latest camera technology for the film. The very fact that the film took almost 14 years for completion, talks of the precision and technology involved.

The technology allowed Cameron to mix computer generated animation with live action on the spot. It allowed him to observe directly on a monitor how the actors' virtual counterparts interact with the movie's digital world in real time and adjust and direct the scenes just as if shooting live action.

The live action was shot with a modified version of the proprietary digital 3D Fusion Camera System, which was developed by Cameron and Vince Pace.

If not only for visual and audio effects, Avataris a film to be watched for its content.

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