Avatar ponderings

James Cameron’s latest blockbuster film, Avatar has got many tongues furiously wagging, and rightly so.  From the reviews I’ve read and head, most seem to be agreed that for all the flaws of character, plot, script and trying to do a bit too much, it is rollickingly good fun.

I’d agree too.  In fact, I’d likely forgive the accused flaws.  Show me a massive blockbuster film which sets out to cater to the lowest common denominator audience, and which has well rounded characters, an innovative and unique plot, and a script which doesn’t sound cartoony.  There probably are some, but I can’t call them to mind easily.

What I’ve been surprised about the reviews I’ve seen and read, is their neglect of “difficult” issues which the film appeared to more than touch on. 

These were namely terrorism and religion, or faith.  It appeared more that terrorism was more pronounced than in plot predecessors, your Bravehearts and Star Wars.  One major plot point revolves around a scene where vivid 9/11 imagery was unmistakeable.  The religious view meanwhile, of the native alien beings, the view that their god is in and of all living things, that energy is borrowed.  Is this not a principle tenet of the Islamic faith?  That the sacred is in and of everything that exists around us?  Forgive me if I am wildly wrong; I’m too lazy to look it up and qualify.

And the beliefs and the terrorist actions are deliberately exchanged, opposed.

“Nyerr,” some of the critics have sniffed, because it is their job to: “if it costs that much money, it SHOULD look that good.  It was ok, I didn’t hate it.”  Their desperation to appear unaffected, to immediately focus on the cash, was sickening.

This was an incredible film.  Too long, definitely.  Rather baggy, sure.  Plot, character, script points I’m willing to overlook them all.  But is there a fear, or basic reticence to try and read such a mainstream film on any other level which isn’t mainstream.  Viewpoints which challenge; the terrorism victims having the extremist religious beliefs – albeit green and arguably fey ones.  The opposing insensitive greedy battering ram of atheism.

Avatar has plenty to admire from any perspective; it’s a long, mostly gripping ride through a familiar storyline we’ve been told before and will be told again.  But most stories follow a basic structure.  The way this has done (and I’ve barely touched on staggering effects which made me wonder about David Attenborough’s appreciation); plus just a subtle sprinkle of mind fodder, for me makes it outstanding.


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