Traversing the Boundary of the Screen: Contextualizing the Influence of Cinema and Virtual Reality in Artificial Environments
Keywords:Post-cinema, Storytelling, Theme Parks, Artificial reality, Cinematic Virtual Reality
Within the last decade, the entertainment industry has witnessed an exponential growth in the production of immersive theme park lands based on popular movie franchises. The diegetic worlds that these environments produce not only endeavor to immerse guests into their favorite films but also to actively involve the spectator and position them as if they are the frame of a camera exploring and creating their own stories within the multi-acre diegesis. These groundbreaking and innovative forms of immersive storytelling have received little attention from scholars in film and media theory and necessitate a thorough contextualization in terms of post-cinematic storytelling. Notably, the hybridity and interdisciplinary nature of the aesthetics and technologies espoused and repurposed for constructing these areas and their respective rides parallel that of conventional filmmaking and post-cinematic media. This paper examines Pandora—The World of Avatar and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — two of the most popular immersive lands located at Disney World in Orlando, Florida — in terms of the cinematic aesthetics and technologies that are employed to guide a spectator while allowing them to experience their own subjective story. Notably, unlike many previous theme park attractions and themed “lands,” these immersive environments are rooted in an underlying conceptual narrative. These forms of “real-time storytelling” parallel the concurrent advent of VR experiences as a means of personal post-cinematic storytelling. However, this paper considers these immersive environments to be a form of a physical, tactile alternative reality—a virtual reality that is multi-sensorial and requires no headset.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Joseph Fischer
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