Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar (2009)

Here is a thought-provoking review from The Brussels Journal.
I have just watched the most expensive B-movie ever made, the US$ 237 million Avatar by director James Cameron, famous for having produced films such as The Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens and Titanic. Briefly summed up I would say that while it is visually spectacular, as is everything Mr. Cameron makes, Avatar has to be one of the most anti-Western and especially anti-white Hollywood movies I have seen in a long time.

The hero is the U.S. Marine Jake Sully who has been sent to the planet-like moon Pandora because humans desire the mineral resources found of Pandora, which is inhabited by a race of tall, blue-skinned aliens, the Na’vi. They have a non-industrial civilization technologically inferior to ours but apparently spiritually richer and in perfect ecological harmony with the natural environment. The hero predictably falls in love with the native culture and connects with a native girl.

“Going native” is in itself not an original theme; it resembles Dances with Wolves, only with aliens instead of Sioux. Neither is the preference for pre-industrial civilization, which was after all shared by a good man such as Tolkien in his The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien had personally experienced the meaningless horrors of trench warfare during the First World War and this naturally affected his view of industrialized society. What is different about the movie Avatar is how it portrays whites as a bunch of raging monsters, something which Tolkien never did.

According to a review from New York Press:

Avatar is the corniest movie ever made about the white man’s need to lose his identity and assuage racial, political, sexual and historical guilt.

Only children—including adult-children—will see Avatar as simply an adventure film; their own love of technology has co-opted their ability to comprehend narrative detail. Cameron offers sci-fi dazzle, yet bungles the good part: the meaning. His undeniably pretty Pandora—a phosphorescent Maxfield Parrish paradise with bird-like lizards, moving plant life and floating mountains—distracts from the inherent contradiction of a reported $300-$500 million Hollywood enterprise that casually berates America’s industrial complex.

Cameron’s superficial B-movie tropes pretend philosophical significance. His story’s rampant imperialism and manifest destiny (Giovanni Ribisi plays the heartless industrialist) recalls Vietnam-era revisionist westerns like Soldier Blue, but it’s essentially a sentimental cartoon with a pacifist, naturalist message. Avatar condemns mankind’s plundering and ruin of a metaphorical planet’s ecology and the aboriginals’ way of life. Cameron fashionably denounces the same economic and military system that make his technological extravaganza possible. It’s like condemning NASA—yet joyriding on the Mars Exploration Rover.


Enbrethiliel said...


I gathered as much from watching the trailer, but Avatar sounds much worse than I ever thought it would be. =(

Dymphna said...

I've already seen Dances with wolves. I'm not paying $11 to see Dancing with Space Smurfs.

Julygirl said...

The blue aliens are difficult for one to feel sympathetic with since they are so grossly ugly. A film viewer needs to feel some sort of rapport don't they?

xavier said...

Maria Elena:
I want to see it but I might hold off and wait for the DVD and rent it.

You know, I'd really love to see a director make an animation of how a primitive society destroys an advanced one. I'm thinking of the Moslems defeating the Persians.

It's very interesting to observe that once the Moslems take over and Islam is imposed, the Iranian pretty much disappear from history
until WW II.


elena maria vidal said...

Great points, everyone. I am going to wait and see it on DVD, if I see it at all.