Avatar: The Movie of the Century

James Cameron’s epic carrying the name Avatar hit the world theaters exactly a month ago, stirring global controversy, liking, and fame like never did a movie before…

The movie, which took its director over 15 years of hard work and imagination, scoring over $27 million in its first day at the box office, is more than what its classification may render of limited interpretations. It’s more than a science fiction movie, action, or Drama, it’s a state of consciousness of many life aspects and, indeed, on many levels…

The fact that the events of the movie occur 15 years ahead, coupled with that its scenes are said to be taking place in some other planet or may be a virtual world named Pandora, it brilliantly distances you, for the three hours that are the course of the movie, from your current land- let it be whatever; the East or the West or whatever spot on our troubled planet, warming you up, partially as a viewer, and partially as an alley of your own pole of the world, to receive and adhere to what the movie’s core message carries of lessons and interpretations.

However, and despite of the reality that the movie does distance you, in its 3 D picturing, it links you to the heart of so many aspects of life and on many levels,  with varying extents of controversy, depending, largely, on your willingness to clinch the profound state of consciousness it’s meant to live you through.

Here I shall attempt to peal off the multi facets of of “Avatar” that are the mesmerizing make up of this great work… Bringing into focus the symbolic connotations running through every line of the script and every shot of the picturing, starting with the political facet, the religious, the spiritual, the controversial, the universal, facet, ending with the artistic value of the movie…

The heart of the movie’s controversiality is highlighted in the journey, with many stages and peaks going in the course of 3 months- mission of an Avatar to what’s referred to in the movie as “The Aliens’ World”, or the Pandora Planet, a spit between two warring worlds representing the split between human race among themselves on one hand, and between human race’ originality and modern life on the other- with all this split carries of lessons, ideologies uncovered, contagions inflicted, as well as untold facts about human nature and spiritual aptitude let alone geniuses and all this can do.

More or less, the classical Good Vs Bad theme is presented in a fascinating production that makes it more than a movie, but again, an echoing State of Consciousness…

  • Controversial Facet

The mainstay of Avatar’s controversy lies largely in the timing of its release … which fits it perfectly well with what the current U.S. Administration is striving to fix and achieve following the mass destruction caused by the previous leadership.

It also comes a few weeks following the new U.S. leader’s claiming of Noble Peace Prize, and all that brings forth of a new foreign policy aimed, hopefully, at restoring the Arabs and the Muslims’ trust in the American leadership, after the mayhem inflicted by the old Bastard.

The main theme adopted in Avatar is the Superpower Versus the Aliens/Barbarians/Hooligans, with this reflected into a unique presentation of ideologies, stereotyping and policies, which translate the way the Superpower looks down upon those of the third world, regrettably perceived as a group of thugs who do not deserve the natural wealth they posses, and in some cases rendering them as unworthy of living in the first place. Thus, according to the invaders, there’s every reason to annihilate them with whatever the human hand and mind has produced of destructive tools, let them be biological weapons, armories, or whatever.

The Superpower/Occupied clash is mirrored in the RDA Unit/Navi conflict presented in the movie…

OF course the RDA represents the modern humans on one level and the greedy superpowers on another, whereas, the Omaticayas, the Navi indigenous people, portrayed as Alien creatures with tails like animals, represent the original human race as pure as it was and as enlightened as it was on one level and the Occupied on another one.

The portrayal of the Navis as semi-human creatures, yet having tails greatly manifests the way the Modern Super Power looks down upon those it wishes to annihilate for their “barbarity”… Again the Stereotyping of Muslims/ Arabs and the thugs living the third world continents…

  • Political Facet

What might be shocking for some is the fact that the political implications of Avatar wasn’t what impressed me most, even though I was waiting for this layer to unfold the minute the movie started, as I went with a pre-hand knowledge that the movie carries a crucial political.

However I cannot sidestep that aspect without a well-deserved stop-over.

The epic boldly yet elegantly touched on the very controversial and obvious source of our modern days wars, or allow me to say the war of all wars. To be more direct, the raging and continuous war over land and interest between the West and the Arab World… Allow me to be more bitterly Straight Forward.. It’s the Superpowers’ War, the pretext of which is always upgraded and renewed, principally represented by the United States of America and the Muslim world.

Jake Sully, the hero around which revolves the story of the movie, is portrayed as a disabled war veteran, the Avatar of which is sent to Pandora Planet, to get its people, in three months mission, abandon their homeland, said to be lying on a massive secret mine of unobtanium … A case very much akin to the vicious war on Iraq.

Colonel Miles Quaritch, the head of the armed forces unit, sends the war veteran to collect intelligence on the magic spot on one hand and win the hearts and minds of the Pandora people as a way to get his target surrender to his desire without “bloodshed”.

Let me quote what Colonel Miles said in one very interesting conversation with Jake, upon the beginning of the latter’s mission at Pandora,

“Sully, I want you to learn this savages from the inside, I want you to gain their trust.”

Of course the “savages” here refers to what the fallen American Leader used to refer to the Arabs … A mimic of the U.S. policy, or to be more accurate, fair and precise, the policy of the previous Bush Administration.

When Pandora’s people refuse to surrender and the Colonel’s ridiculous plot to win their hearts and minds proves failure, he mobilizes his army to destroy the entirety of the planet to lay hands on its goods and acquire the most of it…

The presence of disabled War Veteran is justified perfectly well in Avatar and made best use of. I also guess it must be highly sensitive to the angry American society, who is still painfully regretful of the unnecessary war their previous leader dragged their legs into, leaving thousands of their people disabled, traumatized, thousands of more killed, for the American President to get hold of Iraq’s oil resources, instead of finding another source of energy to meet his people’s needs.

The very same sad sequence of Iraq war is being minatured …

But one very important fact that I need to point out here is that the work on Avatar, the movie, is supposedly to have commenced long before the war was launched, true… But this even makes things worse … It’s an expectation of the mighty superpower approach and ideology which had been accurately fulfilled.

And when you come to think of it, this had always been the attitude of Western superpowers, and I wish not to be so prejudice against the U.S. or the West in general… I condemn the attitude of their governments that had always been and are still cursed by their own people.

To lay hands over some country’s natural resources anything can be justified, and the mission starts with attempting to win the hearts and minds of its people, if they didn’t surrender, then armory is always there to do the job.

The U.S. War in Afghanistan, the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941, also for oil interest, and the Russians invasion of Afghanistan, and over and above, the longstanding Palestinian conflict in the Holy Lands, to name a few- Same old scenario repeating itself, now in Iraq and Palestine, and God only knows what the future hides….

And long before that.. an accurate look at the old seed of the American history, will find it based on land grab- the Americans’ Old Sin of laying hands on the lands of the Red Indians- the indigenous inhabitants of the land now carrying the name of the mighty United States of America.

  • Religious Facet

Religion stands as a central theme, much of a character, that had strong presence throughout the movie. It was present in Neytiri’s teachings to Jake all the way through his journey of “Knowing”.. in her people’s worshiping.. and their great appreciation of the Tree of Voices or the Holy tree where “prayers are heard and sometimes answered”, as said by Neytiri.

Religion had always been a central factor in the formation of nations throughout history, we have many examples along human history of wars and bloodshed, partially to liberate followers of certain religion or to impose another on some other nation.

When it comes to the religious implications offered in the movie, both worlds are concerned… Those of whatever religion in the West, and the Muslims, symbolically the inhabitants of Pandora’s world, and that through my own personal reading of the movie, with their original purity, goodness, brotherhood and other sorts of divine qualities and ethics that are part of our Deen as originally sent at the hands of the Prophets, and before we divide into different and sects and tribes, all based on interests and agendas- Also before the poison of contamination stains the hearts…

The original Muslims as they once were, and now strive to become.

  • Spiritual/Psychic Facet

Now comes the Spiritual Facet, the one that overwhelmed me most…

The portrayal of the indigenous people of Pandora as blue creatures, resembling to a great extent human beings, even if they bear none of the very fine looks we have yet possess a very clear and charismatic spirit, that allowed them, even with the least understood Navi language they used, penetrate the audience souls, and practically get them live their world of highly spiritual allure..

I became totally lost in Pandora’s world, living the emotions, challenges, and traditions lived by Neytiri, her people, Jake, and believing very much in each and every word spoken on their land of Truth and Sacredness…

It’s the world of our original being where, a disabled man like Jake, is empowered and gaining exceptional force to fight, win, and mobilize immense forces to beat the enemy. It’s in such state, when one becomes center, get hold over his truthfulness, when he becomes complete, empowered, and suddenly, as said by Jake, the two worlds are reversed, the modern, superpower world is the virtual life, while that on Pandora is the Real World, when man is empowered, able, and thus, claim the role meant for him and achieve it…

The movie offered an intrinsic portrayal of the best of human qualities displayed in a wonder world, symbolically, our original world.

Pandora’s atmosphere is understood to be toxic to normal humans, signifying modern human beings’ inability to go back to how they originally were. They cannot leave behind their burgers, jeans and coke to relive their far from luxurious originality. It also signifies the inability of the superpowers to leave behind their greed to live the mystic life of those they see as “Aliens”.

The classical love story between Jake and Neytiri- even though at first seemed classical: the normal love story that sprouts between a couple coming from two conflicting and contemptuous parties- it was most skillfully woven in the overall plot, inviting the viewer live each step of the emotional development between the two characters, starting with strong chemistry between the two, and evolving as a very unique type of love that, even when faced with challenges, threats, conflict of interests, and above all unfolding of treason, remained strong and faithful, winning the war at the end, and bringing the loving couple in one world, the world of truth.

Another level of spirituality unfolded in the movie is settling in a world that on the outest seems nothing close to where one belongs, it’s a spiritual call and yearning need that makes one cling to one place rather than the other.

Marriage reflects the intriguing sense of settlement. When a man marries and settles in a place it signifies where he felt complete, where he felt home.

Jake naturally settled in Pandora inspite of what he originally came with, an intent plan to get those people out of their homeland. And despite the huge difference and what we now call “cultural gap” that should expectedly stand between him and Neytiri, the two, as inherently understood, got married, for it’s where Jake felt spiritually fulfilled, centered, and thus, completed the missing part of his circle of being… He related so much to the Navi people and developed a sense of belonging he never tasted in his other world… And the fact that he was disabled in his other, supposedly original world symbolizes his inability to live his life to the fullest, in contrast to his life in Pandora, where he was empowered, cured, and gained exceptional power and confidence.

Avatar touches on the originality of our life, modern aches, failures, tribulations, and fake yet dominating laws.

It draws so much on the gist of love, its power, versus hate and what it brings to its bearer of destruction, dismay and entrapment…

It also highlights the significance of unity and what it can do… It’s only when the Navi people were harnessed into one main force, were they able to beat the RDAs and save their land.

The film speaks our current thoughts and magnifies human fears and aspirations alike…

  • Universal Facet

It’s indeed more than a movie; it’s explicitly a visual reflection of a human mind that’s been closely watching the evolution of human race and what comes along of reflections, enlightenment, and consciousness of the very big notion of “Life” with all of its aspect- And one major conclusion interpreting the essence and the veracity of many elements all entwined under the massive meaning of “Life”..

The movie underlined the good and the bad, religion, human power, human will, love, greed, and the spiritual bond that once established with any work or object gives humans ultimate power and full control.

And not just that, it sends a crucial lesson: that enacting the human mind always brings wonders and can bring forth unexpected shifts, but enlightenment never comes except with the connection of both the mind and the soul- the linkage between the feeling with the thought completes the vision, and this is how Jake underwent a captivating journey of change that took him across varying fields of truths and made him at the end of his mission, changing allegiance.

It also highlights the universal theme of a journey, and what it can do, changing the journeying person inside out, changing or actually shifting his allegiance, his faith, and belief, exactly like what happened to Jake, he started as fighting against the Navis, and ended up protecting them, fighting against the side he was initially representing for the sake of those he came to war.

  • Artistic Value

The 3D chartbuster has set new standards for movie making and movie watching, much like Titanic did more than 10 years ago, but, in my view, it’s far more revolutionary and has far more impactful, sensitive, and extremely controversial connotations than did Titanic, dealing with more of a Universal aspect, touching greatly on the essence of our life, race, originality of our being and not just our romance vivaciousness.

Avatar, a breakthrough in many of its inspirations, won global attention several months prior to its release, sending reputed reviewers equally curious and anxious, to the extent of having daily reviews in the world’s most popular newspapers and internet sites, up till its anticipated first show.

I cannot remember any movie that captured such  global attention whether before or upon its release, regardless of whatever marketing campaign planned for it…

It is, instinctively, a movie for all ages…

Maha Youssuf

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