Thursday, February 11, 2010

Avatar: Let there be Earth

Watched, what everybody around is calling a revelation in movie making, ‘Avatar’ yesterday. I am not good at reviewing movies so I am just going to throw a few points that come to my mind. It definitely is a Cameron/Spielberg type of movie and that was evident in the storyline and cinematography and it also had the larger than life kind of feel to it. I am a great fan of gadgets and weaponry so could not stop my mind from racing to year 2154 and imagining what the world would be like then. Kudos to the creative team who made floating islands and luminous flowers and bugs. The animals did not attract me much because post Jurassic Park nothing makes me sit and say ‘wow’. I am a great fan of colours so could not stop admiring the shades of flowers and animals especially the mighty Pterosaur. The Na’vis looked cute and ugly at the same time and I guess they thought the same about humans too. It’s amazing how we design a new world from our imagination. The Hallelujah Island is an envious creative output and it’s amazing to recapitulate its evolution in the mind of its creator. But I was irritated, though mildly, by the preponderance of the creative world around us, that any planet however light years away from us, would have the same basic setup like ours. The Na’vi’s looked very much like humans with four limbs; the tail was a bonus, though we cannot discount the fact that our ancestors also had one. The trees, plants and grasses looked similar to ours. The flying birds looked like raptors and the heavy duty dinosaur was in the end - a dinosaur. If left to me, I would try to create a world which is completely different from ours, nothing human like, nothing plant like. That is where the challenge lies and I am sure that’s how it exists even now, light years from us, nothing like earth, not even like Pandora.

But again nothing in the island or anything picturized was purposeless and that’s what I liked about the script. It perhaps was the best lesson to us that nothing in this world living or non-living is purposeless and we all do connect. Though the synaptic connection of nerve endings seemed strange and made me wish I had a tail to plug to the grass or at least to the hostile beings around. The language of Na’ vi’s in the movie was developed by a linguist and it has 1000 words and is closely related to an Ethiopian tribal dialect. Also the plants were researched and designed by plant physiologists and it is scientifically explainable as to how they connect to humans. The movie did not fail to convey what it intended. I would not say the message was completely new. In the midst of the just concluded Copenhagen summit nothing else could have subtly touched upon the messy state of our environment and man’s apathy and callousness towards it. When on one side Pandora’s natives respected animals and trees and mourned over their loss, we were shown how callous humans were. In fact after destroying our own habitat we did not learn lessons adequate and plundered into others territory. It might sound politically incorrect, but I have a great urge here to draw parallels with what humans did in Pandora with what U. S of America did in Iraq. Just try replacing the unobtanium rock in Pandora with oil in Iraq and the similarities in the movie and what happened in Iraq is hard to miss. This by default is an exquisite human behavior. This reminds me of something I read from Erich Fromm’s “Art of destruction”. Man is the only animal who could kill or destroy without an immediate motive. Animals also kill each other but either in danger or when hungry. No animal ever remembers old vengeance and attacks; neither do they calculate the loss another species could cause to them in near future. You see zebras and lions, monkeys and flamingoes grazing around in the same territory; they do not contemplate on counter evacuation to protect resources for their next generations. Least of all lions don’t fight lions worrying some might finish the food that others can eat for generations. Sadly, man thinks differently. And as seen in the movie rocks worth 20 million dollars are more lucrative than protecting the forest which balances the whole colony of the Na’vi’s.

As I walked out of the theatre I wondered, what the audience would take away from the movie. One group would be mesmerized by the gadgets. There would soon be toy models of the tankers, helicopters, gunships and maybe aliens too. You would soon have blue coloured soft drinks and maybe burger patties shaped like the animals in the movie, alluring kids at eat out joints. And not to forget video games with a fantasy Pandora land and floating islands. To some maybe the creativity would be more appealing. There would also be philosophical discussions on the movie. I have heard there were discussions on philosophy of Matrix after the movie released. So now it could be philosophy of Avtaar for the intellectuals. I am worried if some foolish corporation would begin the hunt for some Pandora like land and exploit some peaceful planets. I hope the scientist learn their lessons from the movie and don’t fall for big bucks. As for environmentalists who have been harping on sustainability this could be a new mantra.

But I fear the most for people who would not see any of the above and would just walk out mesmerized by the 3D effect, oblivious of the world dying today. To whom mother earth is a woman who comes dressed only on earth day, on google. I am afraid many would miss out on what the movie had to really say. Somewhere in there I felt I travelled through time and saw what we would make out of our planet because of our indifference and greed and then stand at the gates of another civilization with impunity and brazenness asking for more. How lucky are we to look into the future but how shortsighted that we just see it as a movie. Avatar is not about conquering or protecting Pandora but about preserving and nurturing Earth.


jo said...

Goooood..!! Nice to c another fellow human being thinking in d way I do.You got some too good points and expressed it in d best way.Good job.

Brian Barker said...

I like neither Na'vi nor Klingon, as the future global language. Especially when you have to dress up for it :)

We also need a future international language. One which is easy to learn, as well !

And that's not English! Esperanto? Let's move forward :)

At least Bill Shatner speaks Esperanto. Have a look at or

bhasha said...

hav heard a lot about the movie...but this review helped me better :))
havent watchd myself though until now..

Who said...

jo: thanks buddy.

Brian: anything new will face resistance. I am sure English too had it's share of problems. But what clicks with the masses will stick or if you use a stick sometimes it clicks...

bhasha: go, run, watch it.