On Christmas Day, I went to go see “Avatar” and I left the theater thinking I had seen one of the best movies of the decade. I thought it was amazing–the visual effects, the acting, the story, and the 3D experience. The story brought a myriad of emotions with it too, and it feels like you are almost like you are there. I’ll explain how, but if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, see it below.
I have heard that James Cameron first wrote the script to “Avatar” as far back as 1994 and had hoped to have it in theaters before the year 2000. After watching the visual effects of the movie, I am thankful that he waited, because technology 10 years ago would have no way been able to take on such a huge project. “Jurassic Park III” tried to use CGI animation around that time and failed miserably. Needless to say, the world is ready for Avatar today.
Deciphering messages, politics, and the “Dens of Infidelity”
After I watched the movie, I began thinking about the subtle politics that bubbled up to the surface during the film. The story features a native tribe–the Na’vi–fighting corporate mercenaries mining the natural resources of Pandora, the planet that the Na’vi inhabit. I got the impression that this has a message about the Native Americans and other indigenous people like the Aztecs and South American Indians who fell victim to European colonialism and imperialism, which is something that everyone should learn about. It also could relate to the conflicts in Darfur and Eastern Congo, where tribes are facing complete destruction. Some critics have even suggested a connection to “American Imperialism” in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I have difficulty accepting this because it could make sense only in a parallel universe–one where a complete idiot would use a beautiful, harmonious place like Pandora as a metaphor to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Just the same, if the movie is a caricature of the Iraq War, surely some of the Na’vi tribesmen in the movie would have strapped explosives to their chests, blown themselves up among Na’vi children, and then refer to Pandora as the “Den of Infidelity” like the so-called “resistance” fighters have done in Iraq…that’s the only real way you could drive such a message home. I did take a 60-second break in the middle of the movie to go to the bathroom, but I don’t think the plot managed to work any of this madness into it during that very short time frame.
Inspiration, hope, and adventure
But hidden politics aside (where they belong), the most important message I took from the movie was the need for humanity to appreciate the miracles of the universe we live in. Walking out of the cinema after Avatar really makes you feel that life here on Earth is kinda, well…dull. Think about it–we live in a society where too many of us go through grade school, find a place to function in society, pay taxes, create children to live the same lifestyle, and eventually die. How boring is that?! Is there not so much to life? I really hope that in my lifetime I will see the world change so we can explore the new frontiers–whether its venturing to Mars or exploring the depths of our oceans, which I should say, are as amazing and unknown as the floating mountains and waterfalls on Pandora. Avatar, to me, is a reminder to keep moving forward in exploring our home–from the bottom of the sea to the highest Cosmos–and to appreciate it for what it is. The world today is lacking in mysticism and adventure, something that at one time was human nature. Unfortunately, because we’ve settled for so much laziness and mediocrity in our society, we’ve forgotten what its truly like to live on the edge. As Sugarland would say, “there’s gotta be something more”.
At the moment, I am planning to see Avatar a second time…its vying with “Slumdog Millionaire” for my personal title of “Movie of the Year” and I think seeing it again will help me decide. The former, believe it or not, played a major role in my decision to travel to South Asia and see India for myself…Avatar, while completely fictional, makes me wish to do something more with my life, too. Maybe I’ll go buy a telescope or go out and visit the majestic Farallon Islands.
Avatar is an amazing journey that you, the viewer, get to take part in. My legs actually felt wobbly during some of the flight scenes over huge mountains because I felt like I was there. Its a visual effects masterpiece and a futuristic story that feels almost like Lawrence of Arabia meets Pocahontas, and even Titanic, James Cameron’s last major film. I have yet to meet anyone who was disappointed in the film…its almost impossible. Cinemas across the country are erupting to applause to the movie even as I write this.