After soaking up 3D screenings of Avatar film writers the world over inevitably wipe the drool from their mouths and lung towards their keyboards, frantically attempting to conjure superlatives capable of explaining the gorgeous visual structure of James Cameron’s blockbusterpic. I’ve read “eyeballs having sex” more than once; my preferred description is “eye cocaine” but in film reviewing land such superlatives are a dime a dozen. Despite whatever deficiencies may mar the story or characters, just about everybody agrees that the film’s visual palette looks pretty freakin’ sweet.

But for one over stimulated viewer in Taiwan it looked a little too good. Like, drop dead good. Today AFP reported that a 42-year-old Taiwanese man died of a stroke while watching Avatar. According to a doctor from the Nan Men General Hospital, the stroke was likely triggered by over excitement. Indentified only by his surname, Kuo, he had a history of high blood pressure.

Here’s a snippet from the story:

Kuo, who suffered from hypertension, was unconscious when he arrived at the Nan Men General Hospital and a scan showed that his brain was haemorrhaging, emergency room doctor Peng Chin-chih said on Tuesday.

“It’s likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms,” he said.

Kuo died 11 days later from the brain haemorrhage, and the China Times newspaper said it was the first death linked to watching James Cameron’s science-fiction epic Avatar.

Reports of viewers experiencing intense physical reactions while watching movies is nothing new. When the blurrily edited The Blair Witch Project hit cinemas ten years ago, a flood of stories reported viewers feeling sick – suffering spells of dizziness, fainting and even vomiting.

While watching the similarly woozy faux doco monster movie Cloverfield (2008) a cousin-in-law of mine had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance (she had a number of health issues). But I’ve never heard of anybody actually dying from watching a movie.

Still, Avatar does look pretty freakin’ sweet.

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