Saturday, February 20, 2010

What Have We Learned from the Movie Avatar?

Floating Mountains of Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China

I’ve been struggling for weeks to put something “on paper” since I watched Avatar.

What started catching my interest was its use of the prototype of the rock formations in Zhangjiajie, a place that you’d only see in Chinese brush painting.  Since I had just visited this beautiful fairy-land in October 2009, I wanted to see how it was interpreted/presented in a Hollywood movie.

To be honest, I’ve passed the stage where sci-fi or high-tech fascinated me.  Nonetheless, I guess curiosity never went with the passage of life and I wanted to see how this revolutionary 3D technology looks on screen (or behind 3D glasses, should I say?).

As I went along with the story and the visual appeal of the movie, I found myself yearning for the harmonious life that the Na’vi had with nature.  And can I say I even envy their blue-skinned bodies that allow them to jump up, down and between trees? 

I inevitably picked side, the side of the Na’vi, the alien-looking species.  My heart sank when “people from the sky” (i.e., human being) killed, with technologically-advanced weapons, the indigenous people who were only equipped with arrows to defend themselves.  My heart sank deeper when the Hometree went down in scorch. 

Fortunately, corporation’s forces were eventually overwhelmed and its remaining personnel expelled from Pandora; Colonel Miles Quaritch, the representative thought of over-powering and taking over a place by heavy metal equipments, was killed. 

The movie ended in an applause when the clan performed the ritual that permanently transferred Jake, the paraplegic ex-marine, from his human body into his Na'vi avatar.  As I walked back into reality, I wonder if the audience was touched in the same way that I was, in addition to helping foot Avatar’s $675 million plus domestic box office (as of February 19th). 

Did they see that, just as the Pandoran organisms are connected through bio-botanical neural network, this world that we live in is widely connected?  Just because we don’t “see” what may be happening on the other end of the planet, is the impact of it truly minimal on us that we can ignore?  If so, do you believe in the “butterfly effect” then?  How about the commonly used “what goes around comes around”?

Did the same audience feel that things that seem as simple as one-plus-one-equals-two (for example, the combination of money and technology) may not work as expected?  Did they also conclude to not look at things from a single perspective and not make the mistake of giving the Na’Vi education that “we” people from the sky considered essential? 

What I’m even more dying to find out is how long would it take for all these reflections to be worn out by our every-day life until we are reminded again, by another movie like Avatar or, more sadly, another incident, how we felt this day.
Gold Whip Stream Suspension Bridge - Zhangjiajie (張家界), Hunan Province, China


Terence said...

Very interesting post.

TheFreeMinder (a.k.a. Jean Huang Photography) said...

Thank you, Terence, for taking the time to leave a comment. And I'm glad that you found this post to be interesting.

I've been behind on posting, and yet never behind on traveling. :-) Will look to get back on posting here again. I do have my "fine art" travel photography posted on my photography website: and its blog. Hope to see you there as well!

Have a nice day,


G said...

I went to Zhangjiajie in the summer of 2011 and it was actually one of the sparks that caused me to start my blog last year. Yes, we are all interconnected.