Incarnation of an Idea

by MW Cook

If you’re ever going to see Avatar, please see it in 3D.  Seriously, 3D.  Don’t bother with the normal stuff.  Go for the gold.

I’ve been hearing a lot about the movie for a while.  With all the hype that was going around before it came out, you knew something special was coming.  Or, at least, you hoped something special was coming.

And I think something special did come.  I’m not one to be easily impressed with slick visuals.  I appreciate them, to be sure.  But they can’t carry a movie all by themselves, I think.  So I didn’t really enjoy films like G.I. Joe and Transformers 2.  But if there were ever any visuals that could have carried a movie all by themselves, it was the ones in Avatar.  I was going to try to explain how wild and immersive they were.  But I don’t think I can.  Suffice to say, at the end of the 3-hour flick, I was wanting more.

But I’ve been hearing a lot of complaint about the unoriginal story.  And it’s true that we’ve all heard the Avatar story before.  Imperial white guys show up in paradise.  White guys send in a spy to bring the natives down.  Spy realizes natives are cool and white guys suck.  Natives rally behind spy to kick out the white guys.  If you’ve seen Fern Gully, Pocahontas or Dances With Wolves, you already know the plot.  Original?  I guess not.

But, depending on the story being repeated, unoriginality is not always a bad thing.

There is something about this story that allows it to endure being reborn in many avatars (hehe, pun).  There is paradise. It’s always a natural paradise, eh?  You rarely see a technological paradise.  I guess that resonates with us better.  There are evil, yet powerful people who threaten paradise.  And paradise is forced to fight for its survival.  And, in the end, paradise is proved stronger, at least in some ways.

The story is great.  The story needs repeating!  It needs repeating simply because we haven’t understood it yet.  And we can all agree that we don’t understand it because every new version of the story still casts us as the bad guys!  We’re always the ones trying to piss on paradise.  And we don’t just do that in the movies, do we?  We hate Parker Selfridge for hurting the Na’vi, but we become him through our own avatars (more puns?) of corporations who are messing up the world like Walmart and unjust wars like…well…figure that one out for yourself.  Granted the places that wars and Walmart mess up aren’t actually paradise.  But they could have been.  Heck, the whole planet could have been.

Avatar was the slickest re-telling of that ancient, holy story that I’ve seen.  And we obviously still need to hear that story.  Maybe, once we’ve stopped raping the nations we can put the story away and legitimately criticize constant re-tellings.  But today is not that day.

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