Alec Marx- Cultural Aspects, Themes, Characters,Overview, Discussion QuestionsJohnny Chen- Original source information, Animation,Storyline, Intro, Video clip, Discussion questions
(Intro Slide)"By the 22nd Century, humans have severely depleted Earths natural resources and have traveled light-years to Pandora, a densely forested habitable moon orbiting the gas giant Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system to mine a valuable mineral – unobtanium – in order to stave off an energy catastrophe back home. Pandora, whose atmosphere is poisonous to humans, is inhabited by the Navi, 10-foot tall (3.0 m), blue- skinned, sapient humanoids who live in harmony with nature and worship a mother goddess called Eywa, but they are understandably unfriendly. Our protagonist, Jake Sully, then takes on this important mission to build a - bridge of trust - with the natives to negotiate a deal, and his journey begins..."
(Original Source Info)• There is no original source of Avatar the film because, the film was a gather of ideas from the writer/director, James Camerons childhood. (Says Cameron himself in the following link)• Title of the film came from the incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form.• The image of Avatar characters came from Camerons mothers dream.
(Animation)• In order to make Avatar the movie look as real as possible, the producer/director/writer, James Cameron, used the most cutting edge special effects and visuals, creating his "unparalleled masterpiece of technology." Some of the amazing technologies used in create the movie Avatar were:1. Stereoscopic 3D Fusion Cameras - The fusion of two cameras to mimic the vision of the human eyes, allowing the filming of the movie to be more realistic.2. High-Detail Performance Capture - Attachment of cameras to the actors faces, to get every facial expression of the actor, making the Navi characters look more realistic.3. Virtual Camera System - Special view piece (looks similar to a television) allowing the director to adjust and direct scenes just as if shooting live action.
(Storyline)• The paraplegic Marine, Jake Sully, takes his brothers place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora to negotiate a deal with the natives for their land.• Jake was not accepted by the natives at first, but after much effort, he was finally accepted by many.• Jake falls in love with a native, and felt more connected with the clan.• The deal didnt work out, Jake was forced to take side because the humans will destroy the Natives sacred tree.• Natives fought back and won.• Every human were expelled from Pandora and sent back to Earth, with the exceptions of Jake, Norm, Max and a few other scientists.
Human Characters• Jake Sully is a disabled ex-marine who is called to Dr. Grace Augustine is one of take the place of his the scientists who occupies an recently deceased brother avatar body. She gets to know as an avatar the Navi, and ends up dieing in scientist/explorer on the an attempt to fight for the Navi. Planet Pandora. He ends falling in love with Neytiri, one of the Navi, and fights against the humans to protect the Navi.• Colonel Miles Quaritch is in charge of the military on Pandora, and will do anything for the interest of his country, and would never betray his nation or
Navi CharactersNeytiri is the daughter of the leader of the Navi clan, and reluctantly agrees (based on the request of her mother and a sign from their god Eywa) to teach Jake the ways of her clan before eventually becoming his lover. Neytiri represents the strength and commitment of women and how they are just as strong, if not stronger than men. Neytiri is a big warrior, and Jake is really a small crippled man.Tsutey is next in line to rule the Navi and is supposed to marry Neytiri whenJake first stumbles upon the clan. Eventually he ordains Jake with the title ofToruk Makto, and willingly and gratefully fights for him against the humans. Hedepicts the attachment that the Navi have towards their cultural roots and toeach other. Tsutey is representative of the courage that it takes to lead as awarrior. He daringly jumps into an aircraft alone during the final battle, andafter being shot, has Jake customarily end his life before he dies.
Theme:Connectednessof humans tonatureOne of the main themes that Avatar focuses on is that all living things are connected, and if we try to exploit that connection, we will only destroy ourselves. The film shows that since nature and humans are connected we cant abuse nature without inflicting negative consequences on ourselves. This is a major theme that unfolds at the end of the film. Once the humans blow up Home Tree (where this Navi tribe resides), and decide to go on a mission to destroy the tree of souls, nature turns against them and defeats the destructive attempt. This is apparent when all of the animals that used to be hostile to the Navi band together and charge against the humans to defend their land and way of life. Without any guidance from the Navi , the Ikran (the flying birds that the Navi ride) swoop from the sky and attack the human aircraft, while forest animals charge the human soldiers on the ground. Neytiri yells, "Jake, Eywa heard you!" implying that mother nature had realized the importance of protecting itself and the connectedness of living things. The more destructive the humans tried to be, the more quickly they were defeated.
Theme: Greed and MoralityAvatar has great examples of human greed. The initial attempt of the humans was not to destroy the Navi, but to obtain the precious metal Unobtainium that is found in abundance on Pandora. The demand for this metal on earth is apparently very high, and the whole exhibition was not to conduct scientific research but to gather this metal to sell on Earth. When the largest concentration of metal was underneath Home Tree, and the Navi did not want to leave their home, the humans blew up the tree anyway, killing many innocent Navi. The morality of respect for the life of others was ignored at the expense of human greed.
Theme: Humans are Moral at HeartThe interesting thing about Avatar is that although the movie is centered on humans destroying another race, humans end up being the ones that help the race and that races world survive. Jake Sully is faced many times by the colonel of the military, and told to step down, and let them move in and destroy the Navi. When Jake refuses and he is unplugged from his Navi body after fighting against the human efforts, him and the others that have avatars risk their lives to save the race because it is the moral thing to do. Betraying the interest of ones race would not be an easy thing to do, yet these characters still risk their lives, and willingly neglet the interest of their race since the
Cultural Aspect: Navi vs. NativeAmericansThe Navi bear a striking resemblance to the Native Americans. When Europeans discovered North America they automatically assumed the land and resources belonged to them, and were there to service them. This assumption as well as the desire for wealth and power clouded their judgements, and soon was the only the thing that mattered. Native Americans were just an obstacle in uncovering the wealth of the land, and the lifestyle of the natives was neglected and destroyed in the interest of the land. In Avatar, the exact same thing is happening. White humans discover a new land with the resources to promote wealth, and the interest of the Navi is ignored because greed is fueling the efforts of the humans. The only difference between the movie, and our cultures history is that the natives succeed. Avatar is an example of the guilt that we as people now living in North America have towards the mistakes we have made in our past. Having white humans rebel against their own in the interest of morality shows that that would have been the moral thing to do when we were stealing land, and peace from the Native Americans.
Cultural Aspect: Purpose of Military UseEven though this film is Canadian, the issue of recent military ventures in the United States is questioned by Avatar. There are issues as the whether the United States declared war on terrorism, or went to war to obtain oil and fuel major corporations keeping the United States running. In Avatar, the whole mission to Pandora is supposed to be to do scientific work on the environment and learn about life on the planet. However, as the film progresses it becomes apparent that the goal of learning about life on the planet is not an innocent attempt to improve scientific knowledge, but a way to get to understand the Navi so as to eventually use that knowledge to exploit the precious resource Unobtainium that is so bountiful on Pandora. The fact that that the actual goals of military are slightly hazy and ambiguous in the film correlates with the fact that the recent goals of the United States military have been ambiguous.
Cultural Aspect: PollutionWe live in a culture that is majorly dependent on natural resources. We continue to deplete those natural resources at an exponential rate, and we are all responsible for that. Many of us think that if we are not physically cutting down a tree, or if we print papers double sided, that we are not responsible for the destruction of natural resources. In Avatar, all of the humans are seen as being responsible for the destruction of Pandora in search for Unobtainium, except the few who physically fight against it. During the time period in the film, Earths natural resources have been depleted and almost every square inch of the planet is covered in concrete. The people living on Earth and not doing anything to improve the conditions of the planet, are viewed as being guilty of destruction, as are the people flying the aircraft and shooting guns on Pandora. Avatar shows that although we might realize we are depleting our natural resources, we are all guilty of the immorality of destroying mother nature unless we dedicate to fighting against it. If we dont fight against our way of life that contributes to environmental concerns such as global warming, Avatar shows us that we will only fail in our efforts, and create a world full of destruction.
Industrialization and PollutionThe state of Earth in the movie Avatar is one of complete destruction and depletion of natural resources. In the scenes that take place on Earth, many people are wearing masks, showing that the air is thick with pollution/diseases and general filth. This pollution is a byproduct of Industrialization. When industries are developed to such a scale that we currently have, and especially to the scale that they have probably reached in the film, pollution is virtually unavoidable. Resources are required in order to propel such progress of a nation, and destruction of these natural resources results in a world of pollution. Avatar contrasts Earth, a highly industrialized planet, with the very nature respecting planet of Pandora. The Navi people are so happy being at one with nature, and are able to be content with that connection. They essentially worship mother nature, and in it, seem to have found the meaning of life. the humans on the other hand, live in a highly industrialized world where there is always a desire for self-improvement at the expense of anything. In the movie, humans think that finding this metal is the key to what they need. When the humans fail, and the Navi live on, the audience sees that treating nature and all living things with respect allows for a peaceful and content worldly lifestyle.
Discussion Questions• If anyone was sent to learn about the Navi, would they all eventually want to do the moral thing that Jake did and help protect them from irrational harm, or are Jake and Grace simply outliers of the human race?• Why is the main character who ends up saving the Navi a white male? In light of the history of the white American man, and the tendency for him to disregard the interest of people that differ from him (such as the Native Americans), what does this say about the nature of the white American man today? Basically, is the film saying that the white American man should have stood up to his own race during times that it destroyed others, or is the film depicting what the white American man would do nowadays or in the future?• (An interesting article related to the prior question): http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like- avatar• Are we all equally responsible for the depletion of our natural resources and pollution of our world, or are other people in our past, ones who started it all more responsible?
Discussion Questions (Continued)• What was the first impression after seeing a trailer/preview or any kind of• Avatar related videos? Was the graphic a factor of the impression? If James Cameron didnt use such advanced technologies into making Avatar, do you think the film would still have the majority of its audience? (i.e. Do the audience like the movie based on its storyline, or is it because• the movie looks very realistic?) If a movie was to be remade with the same technology used in making Avatar, what movie do you want it to be? and why?
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