Avatar

December 26, 2009

The plot of James Cameron’s Avatar is not original. It is not even that clever. It’s downright predictable in fact. The “new” is usually overrated. There have been many great treatments of the same story, and Avatar is a masterfully told story. I would be amiss to not talk about the 3D technology, so I will discuss that first.

The new 3D technology is very well used. I caught myself from swatting a fly that was in the way of my view. The 3D is subtle and gorgeous. Simple scenes of actors in from with some action in the background are more realistic. The expansive landscapes of Pandora that define the movie are awe inspiring, just like seeing such landscapes in nature.

While the new views that 3D enables means that it will be here to stay, it is not as paradigm-shifting as the introduction of color or sound. Give it time to mature more, and I feel that it will become more common as it becomes cheaper and more cinemas have the projection technology in place.

While the cinematography is awe-inspiring at times, a film depends on its story. This film is about nature at its heart. The plot is humans are mining unobtanium from Pandora, a world inhabited by the Na’vi people, who are clearly modeled on the Native Americans. Just like the Native Americans, the Na’vi are not happy about their land being destroyed by the mining corporation.

*Possible Spoiler*

The corporation is trying diplomacy via the Avatar program, which enables humans to control manufactured Na’vi bodies. Jake Sully becomes a part of the program, and he slowly comes around to the Na’vi views. The Na’vi worship a nature mother goddess, who is embodied in every living thing.

*End Possible Spoiler*

The Na’vi view on nature is heart wrenching for me. It’s the year 2154, and there is “no green” left on Earth, where as Pandora is so lush with nature that it makes me want to go hiking. The Na’vi live in tune with their environment, and this life seems to be ideal.

There is a certain irony in this film holding up the native life style as an ideal, when this film could never have been realized in such a lifestyle. Similarly, the film is very anti-corporatism, when it is backed by one of the largest studios (Fox), which is in turn part of one of the largest media corporation (Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire).

Nevertheless, this movie has made me sit an think about how we interact with nature. I visited my grandmother’s house in rural Missouri today to see what my relatives had done to it. I was taken aback. As a boy, grandma’s had been the most nature I had experienced. I remember seeing all of the stars for the first time there. I remember long walks in the woods and seeing wildlife.

The house was an old farmhouse, but it has been completely redone. It could be my suburban neighbor’s house. I really missed the old house and what it symbolized for me. It was a place without modern conveniences, and now there is internet and cable TV.

I started thinking about all of the features of modern life on the drive home. Obviously, so much of it is unsustainable, but no one will give up their conveniences. Nor would they want to give up the advance medical technology or computers and such. I tried to think of the ideal fabric of society, but I am not nearly smart enough to figure that out in one drive. I’ll have to talk many walks and talk to others about it.

I highly recommend Avatar. See if for the beauty of the nature of Pandora. See it to make you think about nature on Earth. See it for the awe-inspiring cinematographic technique of 3D. See it for a great story.

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One Response to “Avatar”

  1. Issac Maez said

    Avatar was a great movie, I just watched it a few day ago. I don’t usually go to the theather because I get nervious around a lot people but I think I’ll give this one a shot because people are saying that it’s even better on the big screen, I think it might be in 3D. Anyway the movie Avatar get two thumbs up from me, I watch all of my movies at voobymovies,com if anyone was wondering and it’s free

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