I took the opportunity a couple of days ago to see this film in 3-D at Melbourne’s IMAX (which currently boasts the world’s second-largest 3-D screen… and rates third for 2-D projections). Having been informed that a long queue forms for seating, I arrived early enough to be one of the first in the queue, and was thus also able to get a central and rear location, which I had been told affords the best viewing.
Firstly, the 3-D aspect was extremely well done: not overly distracting, and yet provided depth of field that added a quality to the overall experience (IMAX is also currently involved in the development of equivalent 3-D home-based viewing… and I suspect that such will be able to be available within a couple of years). The animation sequencing also afforded a seemless rendition of an admixed world of humans and computer-generated fantasy world.
The plot was, typically for popular Hollywood films, not only simplistic (which I differentiate from simple, this last of which can be excellent), but also reflective of the perception of current US foreign policy and engagement. In that sense, it may have provided a psychological release mechanism of vicarious atonement that, in a twisted fashion, supports ongoing military engagements in various places by the USA, as well as providing a ‘relief’ that environmental issues are understood: all will in the end be well, so not to worry!
Logical consistency appears to have been somewhat lacking – or perhaps, and I am quite willing to be corrected in this given that I have only seen it once, I missed a point of two. An example of this is having the main ‘evil’ character, in charge of the military operations on the foreign planet, make mention of Nicaragua’s forests: later the main ‘good’ character is made to express that no forests – or in fact green of any kind – remains on the Earth. This aspect appears to be reaching to an audience that, on the one hand, considers Latin American jungles as particularly harsh an inhospitable, as well as holding the view that our current ecological engagement will totally ravage the Earth.
The related beings inhabiting the distant planet (actually, characterised as a Moon with Earth-like qualities) are feline-like humanoïds temed ‘Na’vi’ (which sounds line ‘Nabi’ – ie, priest/prophet!). In terms of characterisations, they are presented as vastly superior morally and developmentally to human beings, for whom the term ‘infants’ or ‘babies’ is too often applied. In addition, the view presented is that we (ie, people) are reluctant (or even recalcitrant) learners with rather brutish dispositions.
Main character with genetically modified Na’vi body in solution ready for transfer from human to Na’vi via computer scanning
Of concern is that this is another representation of ‘development’ and purported ‘beauty’ as ultra-lean body types to the point of anorexic tendency.
There is a strange admixture of both asexuality and non-sexual sexuality. Let me try and elaborate a little. Sexuality involves the sexual union between two individuals. This aspect is on a single occasion ‘implied’, yet at the same time the ‘link’ is, rather than of sexual union, rather something reminiscent of dendrons forming synaptic connections with another being. It’s akin to a subliminal suggestion that ‘advanced’ sexuality can be engaged by synaptic connection feeding the brain with appropriate sensory stimulation.
These same dendrons are also used to connect with myriad other life-forms that acts as transport (from horse-like beings to flying dragon-like creatures), as well as to the equivalent of a centralised computer in the form of a weeping-willow (and sacred) tree whose descending branches act as exposed dandrites.
At one level, the advocation is that we too may ‘evolve’ to such a state.
There is, here, both Luciferic and Ahrimanic impulse at work: on the Luciferic side, the location is of a distant planet (I know… a moon), and a ‘losing’ of oneself within the ‘merging’ with others; on the Ahrimanic side, there is a deep suggestion of bonding to the Earth (in this case presented as the superior local inhabitants deeply linked to their planet). In neither case is there a spiritual domain that is suggested: instead, the spiritual is presented as a form of ‘memory’ held by the interconnected global network, and that this is somehow equivalent spiritual life.
This aspect is further accentuated by the suggestion of transfering a person from one vehicle (human body) to another (local Na’vi ‘body’). This is completed by (initially) the use of a computerised scanning system that is then somehow able to pass-on the ‘field’ into the other body – somewhat reminiscent of Kurzweil’s views on this (as expressed in The Singularity is Near and other places).
A number of inevitable, yet subliminal, suggestions arise:
The first is that through a combination of genetic modification and human-computer developments, a far higher stage of evolution can be achieved than would otherwise be the case: we are doomed, if we remain as ‘mere’ humans, to continue to being but poor moral beings inn comparison to what could otherwise be achieved;
The second is that direct interaction by synaptic connection will somehow lead us to greater empathy, intelligence, and sexual fulfilment;
A third is that a planet can be saved by welcoming the incarnation of an extra-terrestrial into a prepared genetically compatible local body. The film’s release at this time is timely if one takes suggestions (by Steiner and others) of Ahriman’s incarnation – though the intent of the film, I would suggest, rather eases the acceptance of such an incarnation;
…and the fourth is that all this will of course be achieved by the superiority of the US-might, who after all, through its engagements, provides the means by which to achieve such ‘superior’ states: the end justifies the unfortunate consequences in the efforts needed to get there.
Overall, the film remains a simplistic (it has to be, or the saga would get in the way!) but powerful subliminal mythic tale – a projection of fantasy – that dangerously supports cryogenics, genetic modification, computer-enhencement of human beings, the merging between machine and people, and the relegation of the spiritual to storable ‘memory’.
A film well worth seeing with awakefulness.