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James Cameron's Avatar


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Did anyone see James Cameron's new film, Avatar? I thought it was a really good movie and I enjoyed watching it in 3D. When you watch it in 3D, it feels like the whole world of Pandora that Cameron has created comes alive. I went to see it with my mother for my birthday earlier this year in 3D at the theaters and at one point, my mother forgot she was watching a movie and tried to shoo the 3D fire away from her. ^^;; Even without the 3D features, the animation is still some of the most impressive work I've seen. I was especially impressed with how smoothly the live-action actors interacted with the CGI characters and backgrounds. It never felt obviously fake when or awkward when watching it and CGI animation has clearly come a long way from the days of Pixar's Toy Story. I also enjoyed the storyline and how in this movie, the humans are the alien invaders instead of the other way around like is usually the case in sci-fi films. I liked seeing Jake's coming of age story as he interacted with the Navi. I liked that Neytiri was a powerful independent woman and seeing how her relationship with Jake matures in the story. Another aspect I liked was how the movie had a positive portrayal of feminist spirituality. Even if it was only a fictional religion, it was still nice to see feminist spirituality being given the chance to shine in a movie instead of the more masculine traditional Christianity and I liked all the Hindu influences in the movie. I also found it interesting that feminist spirituality was portrayed so positively in this movie given that James Cameron himself is an atheist in real life. I only wish I had a Bluray player and a 3D HD TV so I could buy the 3D version but Bluray is still too expensive for me to afford. Has anyone here seen Avatar and what were your thoughts about it?

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Guest billmc

Like you, NG, I saw it when it first came out in - in 3D, of course. I share your critique of the movie's technical brilliance and artistic accomplisment.

 

I, too, appreciated the strong female lead and especially the way Neytiri tried to get Jake to "see". Scifi, more than any other genre of art or literature has paved the way for strong female characters, though sometimes those strong female leads seems masculine. Sogourney Weaver, who was also in Avatar, was probably the first strong female lead in "Alien." But, to me, she was rather masculine in that role until "Alien 2" where a strong motherly archetype came into play. She is, IMO, a superb actress, carefully choosing her parts.

 

SPOILER ALERT: Read no further if you haven't seen this movie but want to. Looking back on Avatar now from memory, what sticks with me the most is the story. As you've said, it is about Jakes "awakening" to "see" through the eyes of those who are considered to be "the enemy" or "the disposable." Though Cameron may be an atheist, Jake, Neytiri, and Weaver's character form a sort of messiah or savior for the Navi. And in this movie, it is not so much about their afterlife as it is about their culture and the future of their offspring and world. Christianity could take a hint from this kind of savior myth. The movie is not very flattering of humans in general, of course, as it reflects the notion that our culture has changed from living in harmony with our world and nature to one of pure consumerism, taking what we think we need in order to survive. So I appreciated that Jake had to choose between what he personally wanted and what was best for the Navi, especially when he dared to think himself as part of them. This is, to me, the epitome of what spirituality is about, seeing one's self as part of everything and everyone else, connected to the rest of "what is" and realizing that we cannot live without the other. Sometimes Christianity does this really well. And at other times, Christianity tends to focus more on being a consumer or survival institution. Of course, we saw a somewhat similar thing in Cameron's "Titanic" also. Jack has a change of character from being totally absorbed in himself and his survival to trying to help others find life. It is a reoccuring theme and it will not go away. Jack only lives on in Rose's memories. Jake experiences a resurrection of sorts. He finds a new world, a new culture, a new love, and his true self that was always a seed within him. He finds life as he always wanted it to be, but it was life with others, as part of a community. A good lesson for all Christians.

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NG,

 

Also saw Avatar in 3D at a large screen theater while i was in Florida this winter. Superbly done. Enjoyed it so much it didn't seem like a long movie which it was. There were of course many messages in the movie to be discerned but the technical aspects in making the movie impressed me the most.

 

Joseph

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SPOILER ALERT: Read no further if you haven't seen this movie but want to. Looking back on Avatar now from memory, what sticks with me the most is the story. As you've said, it is about Jakes "awakening" to "see" through the eyes of those who are considered to be "the enemy" or "the disposable." Though Cameron may be an atheist, Jake, Neytiri, and Weaver's character form a sort of messiah or savior for the Navi. And in this movie, it is not so much about their afterlife as it is about their culture and the future of their offspring and world. Christianity could take a hint from this kind of savior myth.

Your post reminded me of the documentary version of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth and how they were discussing Star Wars was a modern myth and how sci-fi is the new method of myth-making for the modern age.
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Guest billmc

Your post reminded me of the documentary version of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth and how they were discussing Star Wars was a modern myth and how sci-fi is the new method of myth-making for the modern age.

 

There is probably alot of truth in that, NG. The ideas of and behind both Stars Wars and Star Trek, though fiction, have infiltrated our culture. Star Wars initially reincarnated for us the "farm boy becomes hero" myth, finding in himself and his connection to the Force what he needed to end the oppression of the Empire. Star Trek, though often laughed at, dealt with how our humanity is at its best and progressive when we meld passion, compassion, and logic in ways that enable to help others.

 

To me, the difference in the mythologies is that the ancient mythologies looked to something eternal from humanity to either help us, protect us, or give us meaning -- gods, demons, angels, etc. Modern mythology seems to look to something inherent but latent in us, to our connection with each other, or to the microcosm for ways in which we can find help, protection, or meaning to our lives. It's possible that the big questions are still there - why are we here? Is there a purpose to life? Do we matter? But the answers from the best of scifi look more towards improving ourselves and our world, while the answers from ancient mythology seemed to deal more with worshipping a deity who had a self-esteem problem. :D

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“Avatar” made a huge impression on me too. Among other things, the film was a ravishing vision of a more feminine, peaceloving spirituality and respect for the environment. Didn’t know Cameron was an atheist, but clearly you don’t have to be religious to make a movie that inspires people. It gives me hope the same way that Star Trek’s secular humanism shows an optimistic view of the future.

 

Apparently Cameron is planning a sequel, focusing on Pandora’s ocean world.

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