January 20, 2001 0 By Fans
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In a future world, young people are increasingly becoming addicted to an illegal (and potentially deadly) battle simulation game called Avalon…

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 6.6/10 (7,986 voted)

Mamoru Oshii

Stars: Malgorzata Foremniak, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko

In a future world, young people are increasingly becoming addicted to an illegal (and potentially deadly) battle simulation game called Avalon. When Ash, a star player, hears of rumors that a more advanced level of the game exists somewhere, she gives up her loner ways and joins a gang of explorers. Even if she finds the gateway to the next level, will she ever be able to come back to reality?


Malgorzata Foremniak


Wladyslaw Kowalski

Game Master

Jerzy Gudejko


Dariusz Biskupski


Bartlomiej Swiderski


(as Bartek Swiderski)

Katarzyna Bargielowska


Alicja Sapryk


Michal Breitenwald

Murphy of Nine Sisters

Zuzanna Kasz


Adam Szyszkowski

Player A

Krzysztof Szczerbinski

Player B

(as Krszysztof Szczerbinski)

Marek Stawinski

Player C

Jaroslaw Budnik



Andrzej Debski



Dare to enter a world of future videogames

Release Date: 20 January 2001

Filming Locations: Filharmonia Narodowa, Jasna, Sródmiescie, Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland

Box Office Details

Budget: $8,000,000


Gross: $400,000

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Director Trademark:
[Mamoru Oshii]
[biblical quote]


When Ash starts searching for The Nine Sisters, she enters some keywords and the results show up on the monitor of her computer. However, the reflection on her glasses doesn't match what happens on her screen.


You're not ready yet for class A, you still have a lot of work to do in class C and B.

User Review

Brilliant, but not for everyone

Rating: 10/10

* Director

Oshii Mamuro. Known for his slow pace, attention to detail, quite
complicated storylines and his moodsetting. Always works together with
Kawai (sound) and Ito (story). Other movies include Ghost In The Shell,
Patlabor 1/2/OAV/Minipato, Urutsei Yatsura:Beautiful Dreamer. Also
contributed to Jin-Roh and Blood. All these are worth a peek, especially
you like Avalon.
Strange little fact : Oshii's a total dog freak. Watch his movies

* Story

Well, I can be short here. Set in an alternative present/future, a girl
(Ash) sets out to find a hidden level in a VR-game (Avalon). It may be a
thin, but a good setup for the main theme of the movie. Besides that,
Oshii's movies were never all that story-based to begin with, as he pays
lot more attention to general moodsetting of his alternate realities. Oh,
and for those who claim it's too confusing, try to focus a bit. After two
viewings, most of it can be understood (minus a few little details). One
warning though. The pace is as slow as ever. Oshii is one to leave you a
of time to think about certain things that happen. Some like this, most
you probably won't.

* Acting

Kinda hard to judge, as the movie was made in Poland, with Polish actors.
Personally, I find the acting adequate. No oscar nominations here, but
work from the leading actress and the guy that plays Murphy. It all
on what you like. To me the charm came from the exotic language, some
probably find this a turn-off. The conversation is minimal and not so
important. It's just there to deliver the facts, not to explain emotions.
Comments about the coldness of Ash have nothing to do with bad acting,
with the character she plays (another one of Oshii's trademarks).

* Characters

Typical Oshii. A cold female in the leading role. The only time she shows
emotion is when she's in the vicinity of her dog / dogs in general.
that, she's an ice cube. Personally, I like 'em like that. The others are
interesting because of their little quirks and oddities, not because of
their background stories, emotional struggles or deeper motives. All in
they're a memorable bunch, but only there because you can't make a movie
without characters.

* Themes

Every Oshii movie has it's own theme. Beautiful Dreamer was about the
boundary between dream and reality, Patlabor 1 about the relationship
between mankind and machinery and Patlabor 2 about war in general. Avalon
tries to question the boundary between reality and virtual reality, using
the first-person game genre as an ideal setup. Which world is real, which
isn't, does it actually matter and is there a way to find out what's real
and what isn't. Oshii poses all these questions, but doesn't deliver any
answers. Which, in my humble opinion, is the best way to handle it. When
movie does try to give you an answer (Existenz), it doesn't stimulate the
viewer to think about it afterwards. So, it all depends on what you're
looking for. You want some questions to think about, this is your movie,
want a quick story with cheesy moral (Existenz again),

* Special effects

Again, the opinions here are diverse. I think it's one of the most
impressive movies I've ever seen. Everything looks absolutely gorgeous,
especially when you compare the original shots with the result. But allow
to stretch the term SFX a bit. This isn't The Matrix with twirly, flashy,
in-your-face SFX. Instead, the first hour or so is completely reworked
a superb sepia-colored filter, which gives the movie a 1940 postcard
look. Besides that, the SFX are a lot more subtle. Those which are
in-your-face (like the rendered vehicles) are done nicely. I especially
liked the Citadel, and although the rendering is not perfect, the designs
are marvelous.

* Music

Oshii regular Kenji Kawai made all the songs for this film. Oshii's one
the last to realize the effect a good soundtrack has on a movie. And I
mean finding some pop idols and putting them on a CD, but really
incorporating the songs in your movie for extra effect, and even working
other way around, by adjusting the images to the sound. All the songs
written for Avalon and vary from ambient to something close to opera.
if you don't like the movie or haven't seen it yet, the soundtrack should
part of your CD/MP3 collection.

* General Moodsetting

Well, this is what makes the movie one of the best there is. It requires
special kind of taste to like it though. The characters' reality is a
and cold one, with little room for emotions, yet portrayed in such a way
that it still feels kind of warm and cosy. It's hard to explain but I
believe it's best compared with the darker side of romance. The feeling
get when you're sitting in front of your window, it's raining outside and
your girlfriend just left you. It's a sort of gentle comforting sadness.
atteigns this through the music, the sepia filter, slow pace and briliant
camera swoops/positions. One of the fears I had before I saw the movie,
that he wouldn't be able to capture this mood in a live action (he
makes animated movies, which all have a certain style of their own to
with), but he did a magnificent job. Very unique and stylish.

* Overall

I would like to say this movie has no similarities with The Matrix or
Existenz whatsoever. People who expect a movie like the afore mentioned
be disappointed. This is 100% Oshii. It's a bit difficult to recommend to
people who don't know him and his way of working. My advise is, try to
Ghost In The Shell first. It has an easier job holding your attention (if
you like animation that is), but is still representative for his other
Personally, I think this ranks among the five best movies ever. It's
refreshing, it's unique and made with passion. Hollywood fans beware,
others, try it out.