3 Jan 2010
Avatar 'more than Smurfs with attitude'
'In the film the Na'vi are dismissed as "blue monkeys" and "savages" by the corporate administrator. Both the corporation and their hired soldiers view the Na'vi as less than human.
In Peru, President Alan Garcia has called indigenous people "confused savages", "barbaric", "second-class citizens", "criminals", and "ignorant". He has even compared tribal groups to the nation's infamous terrorists, the Shining Path.
There is no end in sight in the struggle between the indigenous people of Peru and government-sanctioned corporate power.'
I went with my three kids to watch Avatar in Bracknell Odeon. Surreal, they didn't run any ads but instead played us cheesy music for 20 minutes before it started. Eventually it did start and we put on our 3 D glasses looking like the cover of The Society of the Spectacle.
Good summary from the wiki oracle:
Avatar is a 2009 American science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. The epic is set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a fictional Earth-like moon in a distant planetary system. Humans are engaged in mining Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral, while the Na'vi—the sapient and sentient race of humanoids indigenous to the moon—resist the colonists' expansion, which threatens the continued existence of the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem. The film's title refers to the remotely controlled, genetically engineered human-Na'vi bodies used by the film's human characters to interact with the natives.
Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote an 80-page scriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic, and the film would have been released in 1999, but according to Cameron, "technology needed to catch up" with his vision of the film. In early 2006, Cameron developed the script, the language, and the culture of Pandora.
Well it was Hollywood and Disney, so far so bad. Heros, linear story, ragged plot holes, unlikely romance between different species, lashings of ultra violence.
The cynical might describe the Na'vi as elongated Smurfs with attitude.
It also borrows from a lot of other things that James Cameron has done, Terminator and Alien and even the romance between unlikely partners with a nod to Titantic.
Of course 3 D comes along every decade or so and then we forget it.
However it was an enjoyable film, the Fantastic Mr Fox, our last film outing, was so good it put it this a little in the shade. Even for kids, perhaps especially for kids, cash spent on the script trumps money thrown at special effects.
However, the politics of Avatar are everything I ever blog about (well with a bit too much New Age pantheism thrown in) much more interesting that what I see on a lot of the net.
A corporation is mining a planet for 'unobtainium' worth $23 million a killo, the indigenous people are being swept away by mercenaries employed by the corporation and a bunch of anthropologist play, at least, initially the role of a bridgehead into the indigenous society so it can be destroyed.
This the story of planet Earth today. The opening shots look like the Tar Sands. Substitute Islam for indigenous and you might have Iraq. Its a war for oil.
Pandora, is the Peruvian Amazon, is West Papua, is the palm oil plantations of Colombia, is all the bits of the planets key ecosystems being ripped out by maniacs for profit. With indigenous people standing in the way and fighting back.
I could write more, I saw this review that says what needs to be said.
However it isn't Disney but may be there will be a happy ending, particularly in Latin America the indigenous are fighting back using non violent direct action, the internet, legal campaigns and political advances to stop our world being wrecked.
If we are serious about climate change, justice, a host of ecological ills, we must support the indigenous, if not we are no better to be frank than Lord Monckton. 10/10 doesn't quite cut it.
Don't be in denial, link to the indigenous. Click here if you want to get started.
Carlos in DC has had similar thoughts to me.