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The James Cameron movie, Avatar, is a cinematic jewel that uses brilliant 3D technology to captivate the audience by not only pushing pictorial boundaries but by also displaying underlying themes of militarism and the power of nature. This film will forever be known for creating parallels with history and current events while questioning the connection between Earth and all of mankind.
The lavish and mysterious planet of Pandora is home to the towering 3 metered, blue-skinned Na’vi clan, who worship the guiding force of Eywa. After Jake Sully’s twin brother was killed on the inhabitable planet Earth, he agreed to travel to Pandora to replace his brother in the Avatar Program where he will control a human/Na’vi hybrid, and eventually abandon his mission to become apart of Omaticaya clan and becomes Neytiri’s mate. As the bond between Jake and Neytiri grows, they are abruptly faced with the destruction of their tribe’s Hometree, Tree of Voices, and their entire forest by RDA bulldozers, who are in search of Unobtanium and are willing to destroy anything in their path to obtain it. It takes every single Na’vi tribe on Pandora to come together as one, to battle against the appalling RDA forces to save their home.
There are many underlying themes throughout this movie, but some are more prevalent than others, and militarism is one of them. Not only does James Cameron, director of Avatar, claim that this movie is very political in reflecting that we are living in war during modern-day, but the film itself has many examples that you could compare to the time we are living in now. One example is the RDA (resource development administration) traveling to Pandora to solely obtain Unobtainium, which is the highest valued mineral on the Moon. They destroy the Omaticaya clan’s home and sacred locations. This can be compared to the burning of our Amazon rainforest due to the illegal forest clearing for cattle farming, which has destroyed the lungs of our planet and the homes of many indigenous tribes. In an interview with The Wrap, James Cameron states:
‘I’ve heard people say this film is un-American, while part of being an American is having the freedom to have dissenting ideas…This movie reflects that we are living through war. There are boots on the ground, troops who I personally believe were sent there under false pretenses, so I hope this will be part of opening our eyes”.
Cameron then faced questions from the right-winged critics in the audience and responded with, “I don’t know if there is a political agenda exactly, but as an artist I felt a need to say something about what I saw around me.” The film unknowingly influences the audience to take upon their moral responsibility to understand the impact of the nation’s military campaigns.
Another prevalent theme throughout the film is the power and protection of nature. Avatar has been known as one of the most legendary pieces of environmental advocacy ever filmed. The movie hits the nail on the head with capturing scenes dealing with rain forest exploitation, indigenous grounds being destroyed, and appalling government systems behind the destruction for profit. The way the Na’vi tribes live together in peace while respecting all creatures and elements of nature is something we humans should take note of. An important scene in the film is when Neytiri kills an animal for food, and bows over the dead animal respecting and thanking it. Another example throughout the film is the connection between the Na’vi and their mountain banshees. These creatures are used for hunting in air and long-distance travel, and will only bond with one Na’vi in its lifetime. In a scene where Neytiri teaches Jake how to bond with a banshee, she says, “That is shahaylu, the bond. Feel her. Feel her heartbeat, her breath. Feel her strong legs. You may tell her what to do…”. The Na’vi worship the nature around them and always respect what their planet has given them. The human to nature connections throughout the film should have the audience questioning their own connection with Earth.
Avatar will forever be known for breaking technological and environmental boundaries in the film industry. Its ability to connect events in the movie to modern-day tragedies allows the audience to take away new responsibilities and perspectives on our environmental and governmental issues that we are faced with today.
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