Avatar (2009 film)  

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"Avatar has provoked vigorous discussion of a wide variety of cultural, social, political, and religious themes identified by critics and commentators, and the film's writer and director James Cameron has responded that he hoped to create an emotional reaction and to provoke public conversation about these topics. The broad range of Avatar 's intentional or perceived themes has prompted reviewers to call it "an all-purpose allegory" and "the season's ideological Rorschach blot". One reporter even suggested that the politically charged punditry has been "misplaced": reviewers should have seized on the opportunity to take "a break from their usual fodder of public policy and foreign relations" rather than making an ideological battlefield of this "popcorn epic".

Discussion has centered on such themes as the conflict between modern human and nature, and the film's treatment of imperialism, racism, militarism and patriotism, corporatocracy, property rights, spirituality and religion. Commentators have debated whether the film's treatment of the human aggression against the native Na'vi is a message of support for indigenous peoples today, or is, instead, a tired retelling of the racist myth of the noble savage. Right-wing critics accused Cameron of pushing an anti-American message in the film's depiction of a private military contractor that used ex-Marines to attack the natives, while Cameron and others argued that it is pro-American to question the propriety of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The visual similarity between the destruction of the World Trade Center and the felling of Home Tree in the film caused some filmgoers to further identify with the Na'vi and to identify the human military contractors as terrorists. Critics asked whether this comparison was intended to encourage audiences to empathize with the position of Muslims under military occupation today.

Much discussion has concerned the film's treatment of environmental protection and the parallels to, for example, the destruction of rainforests, mountaintop removal for mining and evictions from homes for development. The title of the film and various visual and story elements provoked discussion of the film's use of Hindu iconography, which Cameron confirmed had inspired him. Christians, including the Vatican, worried that the film promotes pantheism over Christian beliefs, while others instead thought that it sympathetically explores biblical concepts. Other critics either praised the film's spiritual elements or found them hackneyed." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver. The film is set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na'vi—a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film's title refers to a genetically engineered Na'vi body with the mind of a remotely located human, and is used to interact with the natives of Pandora.

Development of Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-page treatment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999, but according to Cameron, the necessary technology was not yet available to achieve his vision of the film. Work on the language of the film's extraterrestrial beings began in summer 2005, and Cameron began developing the screenplay and fictional universe in early 2006.

Plot

In 2154, humans have depleted Earth's natural resources, leading to a severe energy crisis. The Resources Development Administration (RDA for short) mines for a valuable mineral — unobtanium — on Pandora, a densely forested habitable moon orbiting the gas giant Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system. Pandora, whose atmosphere is poisonous to humans, is inhabited by the Na'vi, a species of Template:Convert, blue-skinned, sapient humanoids that live in harmony with nature and worship a mother goddess named Eywa.

To explore Pandora's biosphere, scientists use Na'vi-human hybrids called "avatars", operated by genetically matched humans; Jake Sully, a paraplegic former Marine, replaces his deceased identical twin brother as an operator of one. Dr. Grace Augustine, head of the Avatar Program, considers Sully an inadequate replacement but accepts his assignment as a bodyguard. While protecting the avatars of Grace and fellow scientist Dr. Norm Spellman as they collect biological data, Jake's avatar is attacked by a thanator and flees into the forest, where he is rescued by Neytiri, a female Na'vi. Witnessing an auspicious sign, she takes him to her clan, whereupon Neytiri's mother Mo'at, the clan's spiritual leader, orders her daughter to initiate Jake into their society.

Colonel Miles Quaritch, head of RDA's private security force, promises Jake that the company will restore his legs if he gathers information about the Na'vi and the clan's gathering place, a giant tree called Hometree, which stands above the richest deposit of unobtanium in the area. When Grace learns of this, she transfers herself, Jake, and Norm to an outpost. Over the following three months, Jake grows to sympathize with the natives. After Jake is initiated into the tribe, he and Neytiri choose each other as mates, and soon afterward, Jake reveals his change of allegiance when he attempts to disable a bulldozer that threatens to destroy a sacred Na'vi site. When Quaritch shows a video recording of Jake's attack on the bulldozer to Administrator Parker Selfridge, and another in which Jake admits that the Na'vi will never abandon Hometree, Selfridge orders Hometree destroyed.

Despite Grace's argument that destroying Hometree could damage the biological neural network native to Pandora, Selfridge gives Jake and Grace one hour to convince the Na'vi to evacuate before commencing the attack. While trying to warn the Na'vi, Jake confesses to being a spy, and the Na'vi take him and Grace captive. Seeing this, Quaritch's men destroy Hometree, killing Neytiri's father (the clan chief) and many others. Mo'at frees Jake and Grace, but they are detached from their avatars and imprisoned by Quaritch's forces. Pilot Trudy Chacón, disgusted by Quaritch's brutality, frees Jake, Grace, and Norm, and airlifts them to Grace's outpost, but during the escape Quaritch fires at them, hitting Grace.

To regain the Na'vi's trust, Jake connects his mind to that of Toruk, a dragon-like predator feared and honored by the Na'vi. Jake finds the refugees at the sacred Tree of Souls and pleads with Mo'at to heal Grace. The clan attempts to transfer Grace from her human body into her avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls, but she dies before the process can be completed. Supported by the new chief Tsu'tey, Jake speaks to unite the clan and tells them to gather all of the clans to battle against the RDA. Noticing the impending gathering, Quaritch organizes a pre-emptive strike against the Tree of Souls, believing that its destruction will demoralize the natives. On the eve of battle, Jake prays to Eywa, via a neural connection with the Tree of Souls, to intercede on behalf of the Na'vi.

During the subsequent battle, the Na'vi suffer heavy casualties, including Tsu'tey and Trudy; but are rescued when Pandoran wildlife unexpectedly join the attack and overwhelm the humans, which Neytiri interprets as Eywa's answer to Jake's prayer. Jake destroys a makeshift bomber before it can reach the Tree of Souls; Quaritch, wearing an AMP suit, escapes from his own damaged aircraft and breaks open the avatar link unit containing Jake's human body, exposing it to Pandora's poisonous atmosphere. Quaritch prepares to slit the throat of Jake's avatar, but Neytiri kills Quaritch and saves Jake from suffocation.

With the exceptions of Jake, Norm and a select few others, all humans are expelled from Pandora and sent back to Earth, after which Jake is permanently transferred into his avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls.





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