Sunday, February 28, 2010

Avatar - The Movie the Myth

I know it has been months since Avatar came out but my enthusiasm for this movie has barely subsided. Truth is, Avatar is more than a movie, it's a breakthrough in the way we'll view films from here on out. With its compelling story, Avatar is an instant classic. But even as legions of overnight lifetime fans fantasize about the greatness that is Pandora, I have to say, this movie truly represents the complete decline of intellect in movie making and consequently the movie goers.

I did not geek out and watch the first midnight showing, but shortly thereafter on X-mas day, I did make up for it by being the first in line in the earliest showing. I dragged along my geekiest friend, Han, to watch the film in IMAX 3D with me. He reluctantly agreed only because he had seen it just the day before. Subsequently, I also went for my second showing with my second geekiest friend, George, who insisted I watch it at the Metreon with its giant ass screen. This is the same guy that listens to the sound track 24/7 on his ipod and constantly asks me to listen to snippets while asking, "Do you remember what part of the movie that piece came from...What, you don't? It's when he's flying. Jesus, did you really see the movie"? sigh...

So, here's some tips on where to watch this magnificent movie. It is important to know it's a technically sublime 3D that requires proper technology to view all the affects in its glory. You MUST watch it in an Imax 3-D equiped theater. It's a consensus that you should try to sit near the back of the theater, in the middle section. It allows you to see every point of the film. It's the only way to truly absorbed the awesome special affects!

All this Avatar worshiping aside, I have to say one thing, WTF! Dubbed as the "Dancing with the Smurfs" film; it does have all the elements of the white man entering seemingly dangerous "native" territory only to win over the hearts and minds of its people. Avatar takes the concept of cultural appropriation one step further by introducing animism. Animism is the belief that all things have souls and we all share this planet in perfect harmony. This includes reverence to dead ancestors as their souls live. Also nature, including animals, rivers, trees, also have souls and therefore should not be threatened in ways that would create instability in the natural order of the planet and its inhabitants.

As an animist from Viet Nam, I have no issues understanding this concept. Of course souls of people and other living or once living things share this planet. And yes, destroying nature or disrespecting dead ancestors have grave consequences. Apparently this sounds like BS mumbo jumbo to many in American society. So much so that director and creator of Avatar, James Cameron, had to incorporate into this narrative a "scientific" component to "rationalize" animism.

This was done through discoveries made by lead scientist Grace Augustine (played by Sigourney Weaver). As she explains it, the planet of Pandora is composed of a complex system of quantifiable energy networks more complicated than the human brain. Uh, okay, I guess it's not enough to just believe in the obvious. Rather, the importance in the balance of nature has to be scientifically validated for an audience to buy into what Pandora and the Na'vi people represent. Sad...Hey, should not be shocking but it's disappointing how incredibly myopic the US society is. I worry about the earth and more and more, wonder what 2012 will bring.

Lastly, true to Cameron's maudlin nature (see Titanic), Avatar is laced with tear jerker moments throughout the movie. I, being the cold hearted individual that I am, resisted. However, in the last scene where the Na'vi people and their supporters supervise the ironic march of pathetic human invaders back to their "dying planet," I indeed shed one sole tear. Only in Hollywood does the white invaders lose and have to pack up and go home. In reality, a whole population of American natives were nearly killed out of existence, lands and way of life stripped, children separated from parents, remaining peoples are relocated to secluded slums, many of which live in deep poverty and addiction, and our Earth is dying...

Congrats on winning the Golden Globe for Best Movie and Best Director, Cameron. More is surely to follow...but sad realities remain and this movie does nothing to rectify that. Capitalism, baby!

1 comment:

Lún Ghẻ said...

very good review of Avatar.