Monday, 1 March 2010


Having now seen the film Avatar, my impression of it is that it is a stunning film. It is one of the most visually aesthetic films I have seen. Reportedly it cost some $300 million in the making, with the original concept having been thought of a decade ago. It is only now that James Cameron has brought that concept to life.

The story centres around a character called Jake, a wheelchair bound Marine who comes in to replace his brother on a research project. The project involves studying the Na’vi tribe, who live on a planet called Pandora. They are ten feet tall, have blue skin and live in harmony with their environment. In order to study the Na’vi tribe up close, human scientists inhabit genetically created representations of the Na’vi tribe called avatars.

In an early research venture to Pandora, Jake becomes separated from the rest of the team and meets the Na’vi tribe for himself, and befriends a female Na’vi called Neytiri. She shows him the ways of the Na’vi. Their customs, culture and spirituality. Their affinity with their planet, and how it interconnects like a web of nature. The Na’vi have a close relationship with their environment, and have a deep respect for all living creatures. After making a kill during a hunt for example, they mark their respect for the dead animal. These are just some of the similarities between Native Americans and the Na’vi.

However, the laboratory that is undertaking this research is located on a military base, and is owned by a corporation who want to remove the Na’vi from Pandora because their planet is home to a rich seam of a very rare (and extremely expensive) substance called Unobtanium (yes, I know). Jake’s commander is pleased that he has become accepted by the Na’vi, and wants to use him to find a weakness in the Na’vi so that they can start mining for Unobtanium. The corporation that is funding the research are really only interested in getting their hands on Unobtanium and making a huge profit from its sale. In another parallel with Native Americans, the human species want to take the land of the Na’vi by force.

Jake comes to embrace the simple and spiritual life of the Na’vi, and their close bond with nature. He also falls in love with Neytiri. He turns his back on the greedy corporation who want to steal the land from the Na’vi, and indeed, of the human species altogether. Instead, he stands and fights with the Na’vi to regain control of their planet. The ending of the film has a showdown between the soldiers fighting on behalf of the corporation, and the Na’vi, which also includes Jake and the other research scientists who take part in the battle using their avatars. There then unfolds a struggle between the great and the greedy , the underdog and the mighty.

After the battle, where Jake nearly loses his life, but is saved by Neytiri, he decides to remain in his avatar forever. He turns his back on the human species for good, preferring instead to remain as a Na’vi. This message is perhaps one of the film’s boldest statements – that the hero of the film would rather belong to a different race, than to remain human. Especially when that race are gentler, kinder and more compassionate.

The film is breathtaking in its cinematography, with its huge sweeping landscapes, floating mountains and rich forests. A whole ecosystem has been created before your very eyes, including trees, plants and animals. Running through much of this ecosystem is a whole series of interconnected tendrils, which the Na’vi can tap into. This forms the basis for their close relationship with their environment, which is both physical and spiritual.

There are many messages conveyed throughout the film. The closeness of the relationship between the Na’vi and their environment has echoes of Native Americans and other tribes. Their deep respect for their planet is surely a call to arms for our own species to stop harming our own fragile planet. The way in which the Na’vi physically connect with their environment through their tendrils reminded me of Gaia, the idea that all parts of an ecosystem work together in harmony for its own survival.

The bottom line to the film is that I was entertained throughout. If you haven’t seen the film already, then you really need to go and see it in 3D at the cinema. Watching this film on a DVD will not give you the full wonder and beauty of the film.


  1. So... you wouldn't say they look a bit like smurfs then?

  2. As far as I can tell, their only similarity to Smurfs is that they are blue lol ;-)