Mamoru Oshii's Avalon
Wednesday, October 10th | 7pm
Video Game Art Gallery, 2418 W Bloomingdale Ave, Apt 102
Set in a dystopian sci-fi landscape, Avalon (2001) tells the story of a not-too-distant future in which a titular illegal video game (something of a cross between Call of Duty and World of Warcraft) is the coin of the realm, and reality itself has disintegrated into a grim, cyberpunk wasteland where people are rendered catatonic from game addiction. Enter Ash, a rogue, hotshot player who is warned by the game master about venturing too far into Avalon's grueling advanced levels, however, Ash is determined to uncover the truth behind a series of increasingly strange events, starting with the suspicious death of her former teammate. A Polish-Japanese co-production directed by Mamoru Oshii, famous for the anime masterwork Ghost in the Shell, the film was released to little fanfare, but gained a cult following nonetheless, and deserves recognition alongside other cerebral sci-fi classics like Marker’s La Jetée and Cronenberg’s ExistenZ. Indeed, Avalon is one of the first films to depict gaming tropes cinematically, complete with avatars, experience points, and even lag glitches. Despite being made almost two decades ago, it remains an apropos allegory for a world becoming increasingly subsumed into the virtual. Writing for the A.V. Club, Tasha Robinson notes, "Avalon...bears Oshii's unmistakable stamp, his usual stately pacing, and the gorgeous music of frequent Oshii collaborator Kenji Kawai. These elements combine to give Avalon the weight of high religious ritual, and the visuals, mostly filmed in high-contrast sepia tones, are often breathtaking." Post screening Q&A with STRANGE DAYS founder Harrison Sherrod and a special guest about Oshii’s filmography, the history & legacy of Avalon, and its prophetic vision of video gaming.