James Cameron’s Avatar

Well the story is everything one would expect from a James Cameron production; as in utterly unsurprising and cliched, it’s like Aliens meets Dances with (alien) Wolves, but boy does it look good.  The world is colorful and violent, but it is also obviously balanced and in harmony.

Interestingly for an American movie, the ‘people’ in it, looking like 9 foot tall anthropomorphic cats never once mention freedom or democracy. They’re obviously not free, feeling responsibility to everything around them and as for democratic, well they’re a hunter gatherer band, so everyone gets a chance to speak.  Contrast this with the democracy we have today, which monitors us and presents us with storm trooper police should we actually want to push for real democracy, rather than something which merely has its trappings. I’m not a revolutionary, those things tend to see a lot of blood, but I am evolutionary; I do believe we can do better and that we have to.

Anyway, back to Avatar..

Paradise you’ll note is basically jungle, the same jungle we’re cutting down. The ultimate lifestyle is presented as being a hunter gatherer existence. The ultimate social group is basically at the band level, where everyone knows each other.  There are no strangers. Freedom in this existence means unburdened by possessions. You have your bow, something to cover your modesty and that’s about it. Oh and a place to sleep at night. Everything else is shared. The riding animals, flying and riding, aren’t so much possessions as partners.

Interesting it is to note that this film which ploughs the middle of the road for its entire duration, puts this forward these premises as something which is unquestioned. I take this to mean that we all know what the ideal world looks like, sounds like, tastes like and smells like but that it’s just too much like hard work to achieve it.

I came out of the movie with a feeling of profound sadness. From a green world to the grey dismal streets of Seoul in winter. Like me I hope you’ll look at where the aliens live and then where you live. Think about what we could do with our cities if we decided they had to appeal to our sense of imagination and wonder, and not merely some urban planners guidelines. You know cities are where we live, we need to invest them with meaning.

Everything in Avatar had meaning, it’s a pity so many things in our world are so meaningless.



  1. modxena said,

    January 20, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Thanks Ian!

    I really loved this movie, the best i have seen in this decade for sure… the ancient ways have been around so much longer than modern ideas such as religion, politics etc we can still learn from them. i miss Seoul even in the forest

    • February 16, 2010 at 2:56 am

      Hi Modxena,

      A lot of the things we did in the past were more harmonized with nature and its cycles, for the simple reason that nature was vastly more powerful than man. Now when man can use brute force against nature well it’s a bit of an uneven fight and the tragedy is that by trying to win- we lose. Man is part of nature so trying to win a war against it is patently insane.

      When the shaman says

      We shall see if your insanity can be cured..

      Never have truer words been spoken.

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