January 9th, 2010

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#147 – Dick Bernard: Avatar

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

UPDATE January 12, 2010: I have been most intrigued by the assorted interpretations, on all “sides”, about the real meaning of most everything about Avatar. About all I can say is that it serves a useful function in causing thought and (hopefully) conversation. Now, if the assorted “sides” could dialogue with each other about the diverse meanings of the film, now, that would be something. It is now a blockbuster status film. I think it deserves its status. And it is an opening for serious conversation about, particularly, American society and its relationship to the rest of the planet.

A few day ago I made reference to the new film Avatar in this blog.

At the time, I had not seen the film. I went yesterday. I would highly recommend the film as food for thought and for lots of reflective discussion for anyone with even the slightest interest in or concern about the past, present and future of humanity and the planet in general.

Avatar is a high-tech 3D film set far in the future on a planet populated by humanoids similar, I would say, to the indigenous peoples who populated this country and hemisphere 500 years ago, pre-Columbus.

The planet has been targeted for exploitation of an essential new element by a force from the late, great planet earth (to borrow somebodies phrase from long ago.

The earthlings do not, shall we say, represent us as we would like to be seen…on the other hand, they represent us pretty accurately…at least the exploiters who have moved from one objective to the next over the centuries who, in turn, have enlisted our support for things that lay waste to a decent, balanced relationship between the earth and all of its creatures, only one species of which happens to be human.

As we watch the “transformer generation” in Avatar, we are watching ourselves, today, and in especially the last 150 years or so in the U.S., far longer in exploited places like Haiti, where European exploitation began with Columbus over 500 years ago. It is not a pretty sight.

On the other hand, those who we dismiss as Third World, presumably worth less than ourselves, are portrayed well, particularly as their relationship to the earth and each other is concerned. One is reminded of the intimate relationship between the Native Americans and their environment in the time before the introduction of the things that have brought us domination and prosperity.

One can wonder who will get the last laugh as humanity lurches down the road to some final probably destructive destination, perhaps sooner than we like to imagine. Perhaps Jesus’ Beatitudes, the first of which is “Blessed are the Meek” (defined in my grandmothers Bible as the “poor”) are the ultimate inheritors of heaven, to contrast with the present hell on earth visited on so many of them.

For the rich among us, which is most Americans, even those of us who are fairly poor, perhaps we’ve got it as good as it’s going to get…in the end we may trade places with those we now dominate. Nobody knows, just a thought….

Avatar is a long film, nearly three hours, but it is gripping. I found myself wanting popcorn, but not wanting to leave the theatre should I miss something. Those with me in the theatre were equally glued to their seats. Avatar is certainly not an escapist film.

People watching this film can come to their own conclusions. It will be difficult, however, to come to the conclusion that the reality of our lives will serve future generations well.

I recommend this film.