Photo Credit: ILM
Avatar, the highly anticipated film by director James Cameron, has grossed over two billion dollars worldwide since its release in Los Angeles in December of last year. So, what continues to make Avatar spectacular and incredibly dreamlike?
If you’ve ever had a lucid dream you know the story. You fall asleep and wake up on a mysterious planet. You inhabit a body unlike yours. You meet fascinating beings. You fall in love. You can do things that seem unthinkable in the real world. But even though you know it’s a dream you’re seduced by the possibility of staying forever. This is the story of Jake Sully, the latest hero in James Cameron's long awaited return to the screen since Titanic.
Photo Credit: WETA
Jake Sully, a paralyzed war veteran, is offered an opportunity to work on Pandora for a private mining company searching for ‘unobtanium’, a substance of great value to Earth. Using his deceased brother's avatar, a remotely-controlled biological body, he must gain the trust of the local Na’vi tribes and convince them to relocate. When Sully goes to sleep he is reborn inside the ten foot body of an exquisite blue alien, created by combining human and Na’vi DNA, and with the ability to use his legs.
Initially, he assumes his mission with great enthusiam, but later discovers Pandora's secret and a reason to defend it. Its forest is lush, deep, filled with fantastic creatures and it has consciousness. It is a world of collective memories and endless connections among its inhabitants. It is the kind of sanctuary we dream about. It seems perfect, untouched, pure and therefore, as viewers, we begin to feel protective of it, too. After the mining company unleashes an attack on the Tree of Souls we root Jake's decision to stop the destruction of Pandora. His journey toward self-discovery is finally complete when he chooses to become a permanent member of the Na'vi people and we can't really blame him.
Photo Credit: WETA
Many critics point out the obvious misanthropic thread that threatens this technical masterpiece. Like many of Cameron’s previous films, the disenchantment toward humanity is apparent. In Aliens, as Ellen Ripley battles corporate greed she develops an increasing kinship toward the aliens. In The Abyss, humans are the fragile species that require alien intervention. Avatar is no different. It's bundled with contradictions; thematically with its anti-imperialist perspective evident by Jake's decision to turn his back on humanity and more notably with its literal cry against technology by the Na'vi as we watch the Tree of Souls burn and fall. Even the writing lapses, creating some cringe worthy moments that remind us of the Star Wars prequels, but still this proves forgivable when balanced with Cameron's groundbreaking visuals.
Avatar is a familiar story, a story of dreams; it is a 166 minute lucid dream experience in all its fascinating glory and allure. It celebrates our past, our collective history and prepares us for a new era of filmmaking. Not since the Matrix trilogy has a film illustrated the intricacies of lucid dreaming so remarkably. So, if you still haven't seen Avatar, when you finally do, you'll swiftly discover the temptation to remain inside the dream called Pandora.
Watch the trailer.
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