Monday, 26 October 2009

Avatar running

By Darren Roberts

I saw Avatar last night. It was jaw-dropping. The 3D effects, something I've never seen before, were astonishing. Many scenarios and situations were evident, and it had its share of cheesy moments. I'm not writing this to discuss those socio-political undertones but instead would like to draw on something else in the film, which may not have been noticed by people who don't share the love of running.

The main character of the film is called Jake Sully, a marine injured in combat and paralysed from the waist downward. Now that, to people like us, active and forever seeking the next trail, is a indescribable dread.

Jake gets the opportunity to transport his brain into an Avatar, which is a hybrid of the Na'vi, the indigenous people of the planet Pandora. In a Matrix-style mind transportation he is transferred to the Na'vi body - his Avatar - and while his human body sleeps he is a Na'vi, with a mission to mix with the Pandora tribes and learn their ways.

The first time he wakes as the Na'vi, he notices that instead of his atrophied leg muscles, he is now 8ft tall and strong and lean. More importantly, he's not physically impaired.

Now, three things entered my mind at this point. 1) How incredible would that be for a person in that situation in real-life; 2) how lucky are we, who daily take our mobility for granted and 3) the Internet allows this to happen in a virtual sense every day, albeit relatively statically at the moment.

When Jake wakes up in his new form, naturally the first thing he wants to do is get up, walk and run. He wobbles off the bed, out of the laboratory and outside into a lush landscape - and runs.

As sad as this sounds, I could have cried at this point. Not out of sadness or joy really but more from a deeper feeling of excitement. That feeling we all get when the endorphins kick-in during a run and produce a strange ear-to-ear grin and bright glazed eyes, were there on screen, in glorious 3D technicolor.

Running through the trees, digging his feet into dirt and bounding from one foot placement to another, I felt I was looking at myself for a short moment of time. Then I realised how ridiculous I must have looked grinning like an ape on acid, at a blue alien, whilst wearing a pair of 3D glasses which make Roy Orbison's spec's seem slim. (Which was further confirmed by my wife after the film.)

I settled into the film, but not before a last thought. We do that every day and I never want it to stop. I salute those who carry on with physical problems; they put people without impairment to utter shame. I humbly rejoice in the fact that some of us can and do run though.

I never want that feeling to stop. If we can run through the lush scenes in Avatar I'd be amazed, but for the time being, the green fields of England await, and they'll do just fine.

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