Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar: Old Story, New Setting

Avatar was a thrilling, visually stunning and thought provoking movie. Content-wise there really wasn't anything new beyond the special effects. This was a re-telling of an old story. It's about the struggle of hunter-gatherer cultures to survive in a world being invaded by agricultural and industrial humans. It a story of the European-American wars against the Native Americans.

There are some interesting concepts that are touched on though. Concepts that age-old but often forgotten in our world of i-phones and x-boxes. The Nahbee frequently say things like "You can't see" and "I see you," referring with the way people see and understand. If you don't see, it means you look at things but you don't really understand them as a whole and you don't see their connection to everything else. Most people don't see. They only look at outlines of things, without understanding the whole. Like when you look at a banana in your kitchen, without also seeing the farm on which is was grown, the workers there and the journey it had to take to get into your kitchen, and then without contemplating where it will go from there. Anyone who is familiar with Native American spiritual belief will know this has a lot to do with the repeated saying at ceremony, "All my relations".

There's also the theme of civilized man and his dream to return to the state of the noble savage, along the lines of Dances with Wolves, the Last Samurai, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. Nothing new there. I get a little tired of this over-romanticized story but I can understadn it's appeal in the digital age we live in, where nature is on a downward spiral toward destruction.

I was half-expecting this movie to end tragically as it did for many tribes of Native Americans that were simply wiped out by Euro-Americans, famine and disease. But then I remembered this movie is made for American audiences, not academics.

My only complaint about it was that it was little over simplified and obvious. But then I reminided myself again that this movie was not made for American audiences, not academics.

*I know this is supposed to be a Tau blog so I'll say this. I am now really psyched about kroot. You may see some new kroot conversions and paint-jobs in the near future.


Swift Hunter said...

Eh... (jealous).
Why in Poland we never get premieres at the same time as rest of the world?!

I'm going to see it probably in 2010, 'cause here it's from 25th in cinemas, and this last week is always spent with family...

Oh, and I can't wait to see those Kroot conversions! :D

CJ said...

Hey OSH,

I still have to go see it but from what I've been hearing it's a cool movie but like you said multiple times in your post it's not the most intellectually appealing movie ever. I can see how it does appeal to you in both a 40K related way and a more Psychological appeal.

Modern times always result in cries for the past. nothing new here, but I guess the way we express they urge to go back to a noble savage life style is changing from something only felt by the over educated, to something felt by all most everybody living in these modern times just because we start to feel trapped in modern life. I guess we want to escape the modern pressures and problems by going back to an simpler time.

On a 40K note I can understand how this would give you some renewed respect for the kroot, I had the same thing after reading a black library book on Eldar were Guardians were actually pretty cool :).

Anyways thanks for the post and looking forward to some kroot maybe some Nahbee conversions :) some blue skinned eldar and skinks (terradons for mounts)

Cheers CJ

Flekkzo said...

Two things. The movie looks absolutely stunning in terms of visual FX. It is very life like. So much that you forget that it is CGI. Worth seeing just because if that.

The other part is that the military hardware in the movie is real cool. Real real cool. The guns those walkers handled looked very real, very mean, very distinct, and very leathal. These guys could go 40k stuff that would be insanly cool. Awesome stuff!

The "let down" was that I could predict far too much of the story too easily. I had rather seen a more innovative and interresting dilemma for the hero to have solved.

But man, those guns, so cool:)

Old Shatter Hands said...

It was pretty predictable. It is an awesome movie though and you should see it, but like I said content-wise it's nothing new.

Flekkzo said...

The story isn't bad per se. More importantly it doesn't make you irritated. There are truly few movies around with any surprising storywork/twists and it seems like making a hugly expensive movie with tons of complicated FX and a Sci Fi setting is considered far less risky than a truly different story.

That said, it didn't make me cringe like the fifth element did.

Bah, just go see it. It's worth it:) And if possible do see it in 3D:)

Sholto said...

I saw the film last night. I tried to get in the Imax (sold out until Wednesday), and went instead to a 3D showing at a normal cinema.

The Real 3D is not on a par with the Imax 3D. My eyes were tired after about an hour, whereas I never noticed any fatigue with the Imax system.

As for the film, I really enjoyed it, eye fatigue or no. While it had obvious connections with Dances With Wolves and The Emerald Forest, it mixed it up with some contemporary issues. Might as well have called the planet Iraq, the metaphors were flying so thick at one stage.

The visual effects were very impressive, and the CG people did actually look like people. This has to be the first film where the Uncanny Valley has been bridged good and proper. The size difference between the Na'vi and the humans only really registered when an arrow went through a cockpit like an iron-tipped broom handle. And they put poison on that? Why?

Michelle Rodriquez got the best line of the film, though :)

Fritz said...

Avatar = Dances With Wolves In Space

Sholto said...

= Dances With Space Wolves?