Ed Hooks’s Perspective on Avatar

February 11, 2010

Ed Hooks has written up an interesting review on Avatar, for those not in the know, Ed Hooks is the author of Acting for Animators. A fantastic book I must add, this book sits right between Illusion of Life and Animator’s Survival Kit on my shelf.

An excerpt:

Sigourney Weaver plays two versions of the same character, which is unusual.  She is Grace Augustine, the lead scientist on the Avatar mission, and also her own Na’vi avatar.  The first read of the script indicates that she behaves a bit differently when she is her avatar self than when she is her human self.  When she is her avatar, she is friendlier, more sensitive than her ballsy human self.   Maybe she can’t display her true feelings when she is on the spaceship?  She smokes and drinks and acts a lot like a sailor when on the ship, but that may be just a protective cover for her real feelings which emerge when she is her avatar.  If true, then she surely has feelings about having to live a counterfeit life most of the time?  There are no scenes in the script that might answer that question.
When a good actor cannot find justification in the script for character behavior, he will just make it up. Even if the behavior is illogical, the audience must never know that the actor thinks that.
James Cameron also recently remarked on how he disappointed he is that none of the actors were nominated for Best Actor,

“People confuse what we have done with animation,” director James Cameron said at the recent Producers Guild Awards, where he and fellow producer Jon Landau lost to “The Hurt Locker.”

“It’s nothing like animation. The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator,” he added.

The Oscars snub is “a disappointment,” said Landau, “but I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way.”

Frankly , I don’t think this has much to do with the perception on whether it’s animated or not.  As Ed Hooks mentioned in his analysis, the script doesn’t support a performance worthy of an Oscar, the characters change their ideals and principles through the film. When done correctly it’s called character development. When they change too fast, without sufficient time for transitions between vastly opposing ideals, it’ll come across as insincere and false.

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