The movie that we chose as a group was Avatar. This film was released in 2009 and was directed by James Cameron. The premise of the movie is that humans colonize a planet called Pandora for its resources. Earth is depleted of energy and humans find an energy source at Pandora. The energy resource is called unobtanium. Pandora is inhabited by a species called the Na’vi who are very similar to humans. The planet is however inhospitable to humans due to the poisonous air.
Scientists in the film develop Na’vi-human crossbreed called avatars which allows them to survive on the planet. The human consciousness is transferred to an avatar and that is how they survive on the planet. Jake Sully is a main character who is a paraplegic that replaces his deceased brother as a candidate to be an avatar. Colonel Miles Quaritch is the head of the military program at Pandora. His objective is to obtain as much of the mineral unobtanium for energy.
The Colonel tells Jake to gather information on the Na’vi species and to have them migrate away from the so called Hometree which is the where the root of the resource unobtanium lies. Jake has to gain the trust of the Na’vi so the Colonel and his men can extract the energy from the Hometree. Jake eventually becomes close with the Na’vi and falls in love with Neytri a Na’vi tribe member. He defies orders and fight against his people to protect the Na’vi’s environment and survival. After an intense battle, Jake leads the Na’vi to victory. Humans are expelled from the planet which ensures the survival of the Na’vi. This film incorporates many themes and mythical elements. One archetypal story that this movie showcases is the battle of good versus evil. Avatar is based on a science fiction adventure of humans attempting conquest on a foreign planet. Many films of this genre show an undisturbed place where is opportunity for invaders to come take over. Avatar portrays humans attempting to colonize a planet that was undisturbed for its resources. This is where the archetypal story of good versus evil is depicted in this film. Humans are in need of resources and find a planet where there is a rich supply of energy resources. The Na’vi people in the planet Pandora are faced with colonizers attempting to extract the mineral unobtanium from their planet. Colonel Quaritch heads the mission of extracting the planet Pandora of its resources regardless of what happens to the Na’vi people. Jake defies his mission because he realizes that the objective is cruel and his people are causing harm. A battle ensues that portrays the humans as the evil colonizers against the native people of the planet protecting their home. This film portrays the theme of the displacement of indigenous people. Humans have had a history of colonization indigenous tribes and committing violence against them. Avatar relates to the genocide and displacement of native people in the Americas. When Americans expanded West in the 19th century they encountered Native Indians. Through the use of genocide, coercion, and fraudulent land deals America displaced millions of Natives for the resource of land. Avatar shows this theme. Myths show us the bad guys who often turn out to be within us and a way to defeat them. The so called bad guys in the movie Avatar are us humans who have colonized other people. Natives were often referred to as savages and people who are of a lesser race to the white colonizers. In the film the Na’vi are of a blue color. Colonel Quaritch calls them roaches and believes they are not as equal as humans. Na’vi tribe members were killed and displaced in Avatar for resource purposes. The film portrays the historical theme of American relations with Native Indians in the 19th century. A second type of archetypal story that is shown in this film is heroism. Jake Sully becomes the hero that helps prevent the destruction of Pandora and helping the survival of the Na’vi people. Initially he is chosen to become an avatar and gain information from the Na’vi for the purpose of resource extraction. When he develops a close bond with the Na’vi tribe and finds a mate (Neytri) he switches his allegiance. His evolution in becoming a hero in the film is important. In the beginning you don’t expect a paraplegic to become a hero. The hero goes through an evolutionary stage where in the beginning you don’t expect that character to become a hero. Captain America, for example starts out as a skinny man and other characters like Clark Kent and Peter Parker are so called wimps at first. Jake Sully follows this archetype in Avatar. He is a paraplegic who has filled in for his deceased brother to be a part of the avatar program and eventually becomes a hero against colonization. The film Avatar is influenced by many current events that take up themes. One of the most important is the destruction of the environment. The planet Pandora is of interest to the humans because of the energy resources it has. The extraction of these resources destroys the environment inhabited by the Na’vi people. The Hometree is the essence of life for the Na’vi and Colonel Quaritch wants to extract it for personal gain. Much of society today has exhausted the environment for resources and personal wealth. The extraction of oil for example has had a major influence on the environment. Motor vehicles pollute the air and have had an effect on global warming. Oil is used for petroleum and is large energy resource for many nations. The globe has increased in temperature causing ice caps to melt which can lead to future disaster. This film portrays extracting resources and its effect on the environment. Another current event that has influenced this film is war and the imposing of cultural ideals. The human invaders in this film fight against the Na’vi people for its resources. They think the Na’vi are savages and are not equal to the humans. Many wars today are fought over because of natural resources. The war in Iraq for example can be argued was for the prize of obtaining oil. The United States invaded Iraq for purposes that were found false such as believing they had weapons of mass destruction. Many people believe it was strictly for oil. In the film the humans teach the Na’vi English and the culture of their people. This relates to many examples in current events. In the past colonizers tried to impose Western ideals onto indigenous people like the Native Indians. The cold war is another example of this. Proxy wars were fought for ideological beliefs. Today many cultural ideals are spread through globalization. Many Western companies (fast food chains) are beginning to become popular in other regions of the world. Films also influence these ideals in other countries.BibliographyHenderson, Mary. 1997. Star Wars: The Magic of Myth. New York: Bantam Books.Dargis, Manohla and Scott, A.O. Babies to Heroes: A Field Guide to Big-Screen Men, New York Times. July 27, 2011.