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Avatar: Some Personal Comments

 
 
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2010 10:35 pm
The film Avatar has finally been released this month after being in development since 1994. I have not seen it yet, but I have read about it and discussed it with several people who have. This prose-poem tries to encapsulate some of my initial thoughts on this blockbuster, its initial reception and some of its meaning.

James Cameron, who wrote, produced and directed the film, stated in an interview that an avatar is: “an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form." In this film, though, avatar has more to do with human technology in the future being capable of injecting a human's intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body. "It's not an avatar in the sense of just existing as ones and zeroes in cyberspace,” said Cameron; “it's actually a physical body." The great student of myth, Joseph Campbell(1), should have been at the premier in London on 10 December 2009. I wonder what he would have said.

Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic. A field guide of 224 pages for the film's fictional setting of the planet of Pandora was released by Harper Entertainment just five weeks ago. The guide was entitled Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora. With an estimated $310 million to produce and $150 million for marketing, the film has already generated positive reviews from film critics. Roger Ebert, one of the more prestigious of film critics, wrote: “An extraordinary film: Avatar is not simply sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough."-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 30 December 2009.

Like viewing Star Wars back in ’77
some said/an obvious script with an
earnestness & corniness/part of what
makes it absorbing/said another/Gives
you a world, a place/worth visiting/eh?
Alive with action and a soundtrack that
pops with robust sci-fi shoot-'em-ups...

A mild critique of American militarism
and industrialism.....yes the military are
pure evil........the Pandoran tribespeople
are nature-loving, eco-harmonious, wise
Braveheart smurf warriors. Received....
nominations for the Critics' Choice Awards
of the Broadcast Film Critics Association &
on and on go the recommendations for the..
best this and that and everything else. What
do you think of all this Joseph Campbell???
You said we all have to work our own myth(1)
in our pentapolar, multicultural-dimensional
world with endless phantoms of our wrongly
informed imagination, with our tangled fears,
our pundits of error, ill-equipped to interpret
the social commotion tearing our world apart
and at play on planetizing-globalizing Earth.(2)

(1)Google Joseph Campbell for some contemporary insights into the individualized myth we all have to work out in our postmodern world.
(2)The Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, has been presented as an avatar in India beginning, arguably, in the 1960s. With only 1000 Baha’is in India in 1960 to more than 2 million by the year 2010. Baha’u’llah has been associated with the kalkin avatar who, according to a major Hindu holy text, will appear at the end of the kali yuga, one of the four main stages of history, for the purpose of reestablishing an era of righteousness. There are many examples of what one might call a quasi-cross-cultural messianistic approach to Bahá'í teaching in India.

This approach has included: (a) emphasizing the figures of Buddha and Krishna as past Manifestations of God or avatars; (b) making references to Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, (c) the substitution of Sanskrit-based terminology for Arabic and Persian where possible; for example, Bhagavan Baha for Bahá'u'lláh, (d) the incorporation in both song and literature of Hindu holy spots, hero-figures and poetic images and (e) using heavily Sanskritized-Hindi translations of Baha'i scriptures and prayers.

Ron Price
30 December 2009
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Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 12:58 am
@RonPrice,
I thought it was a second rate movie with a rediculously overpriced budget that made no new claims. Greenies are good, the military is bad, natural resources are good, industrial resources are bad....Nature is portrayed as having God-like powers whilst there is no God of course, that would distract from the greenies mantra. Best seen whilst on LSD to enjoy the colour and 3d effects.
RonPrice
 
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Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 01:55 am
@Ionus,
Yes, lonus, your analysis of some of the simplicities of the film resonates with many other comments I have read.-Ron in Australia
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engineer
 
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Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 02:05 am
@RonPrice,
RonPrice wrote:

The film Avatar has finally been released this month after being in development since 1994. I have not seen it yet, but I have read about it and discussed it with several people who have.

You might want to go see it before you write critiques. It's just Disney's Pocahontas in a space setting. Its gross stereotypes render it fairly useless as meaningful social commentary.
RonPrice
 
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Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 04:22 am
@engineer,
Films are too expensive to go and see on my pensioner budget. I would argue that you don't have to see a film to discuss it; you don't have to take drugs to discuss them or be an alcoholic to discuss drinking.-Ron
sullyfish6
 
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Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2010 08:44 am
What Engineer said . . .

A visual treat.

The grandkids kids loved it.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:38 am
@RonPrice,
RonPrice wrote:

Films are too expensive to go and see on my pensioner budget. I would argue that you don't have to see a film to discuss it; you don't have to take drugs to discuss them or be an alcoholic to discuss drinking.-Ron

I would argue that you have to read a book to talk intelligently about what is in it and you have to see a movie to understand all the nuances depicted. Most teachers will tell you the cliff notes don't cut it and getting your impressions second hand both omits a lot of the original material and injects others' biases.
RonPrice
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 07:00 am
@engineer,
Yes, engineer, it's better to have seen the film than not, read the book than not or been an alcoholic than not---such an act lends more credibility to one's views--obviously....but 2nd best is discussing a book or a film or alcohol or anything else without the experience. Millions have been doing this in relation to aspects of life, living and their non-experience of some aspect of it for millennia.-Ron
engineer
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 07:25 am
@RonPrice,
RonPrice wrote:

Yes, engineer, it's better to have seen the film than not, read the book than not or been an alcoholic than not---such an act lends more credibility to one's views--obviously....but 2nd best is discussing a book or a film or alcohol or anything else without the experience. Millions have been doing this in relation to aspects of life, living and their non-experience of some aspect of it for millennia.-Ron

Ah the dripping sarcasm! If you want to talk about the experience of being an alcoholic, then yes, I don't think you have any credibility if you haven't been one. If you want to talk about the impact on society of alcoholism, then it's not necessary. You want to expound on the deep religious significance of Avatar without seeing it? I guess you can make up what you think is in the movie based on some second hand comments, but I have seen the movie and it has 1) some amazing visuals 2) some really silly stereotypes 3) some typical Sci Fi cliches. It's a reworking of the typical white man against the Indians story done better by Dances with Wolves. I don't see how you can assign deep religious significance to the plot line without seeing it for yourself.
DrewDad
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 07:28 am
@RonPrice,
I wrote up a review of a local restaurant. I haven't eaten there myself, but I did look through the window, and read what other reviewers said on yelp.com.
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RonPrice
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 07:58 am
@engineer,
There is no sarcasm here, engineer, dripping or otherwise. I am simply stating a fact. Millions of people have views of all sorts of things without reading, seeing, eating or doing any of them....isuch views are as common as air. I was a teacher for 35 years and had 100s of students who never read the books but they got by. People have views of the Bible and have only read a few pages of it, if any. People have views of restaurants and have never eaten at them. This is not sarcasm--this is just a fact of life.-Ron
engineer
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 08:08 am
@RonPrice,
Did you lend a lot of credence to the views of students who didn't read the books?
RonPrice
 
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Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:09 pm
@engineer,
The subject we have begun to discuss, engineer, is quite complex. I taught politics and sociology, subjects which deal with a world of concrete and abstract phenomena like democracy and socialism. The number of books which students could read was endless and the experiential part of their lives that dealt with politics left many feeling "they knew stuff" because "they experienced it." But here,as in so many things in life, engineer, the question of experience and knowledge comes in in very complex forms....I leave this subject for now and look forward to your future posts in the months ahead.-Ron
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