Movie Recommendation – Avatar

I know it’s probably odd for a mostly-theological blog to recommend an entirely-secular movie, but odd has never stopped me yet and I don’t think I’ll start now. . .I just saw the film “Avatar” with my brother and our sons yesterday, and I have a new addition to my top-ten all-time favorite movies.  It’s really that good.  Not because it’s a compelling sci-fi and intercultural story, though it is that.  Not because it has the most seamless integration of CGI and live action I’ve ever seen, though it has that.  Not because of breathtaking cinematography or stunning action sequences, though it has both in spades.

No, what makes Avatar leap to the top reaches of my list is the moving way that James Cameron has told the story of the depths to which a military/industrial society will go to obtain the materials that contribute to their (our) consumer economy, and the complete disregard for the lives and cultures that may get in our way.  The material in question in the movie is “unobtanium,” and the location where it’s mined is a habitable moon around a blue gas-giant planet some six years’ space travel away from us, but it’s also the story of diamonds in Southern Africa, coltan in Congo, gold in Papua New Guinea, and all the other blood-minerals that power our economy.

Watch this movie.  Be prepared for an uncomfortable look in the mirror, even as you drink in a stunning exemplar of storytelling–probably Cameron’s best ever.  And if you don’t see 9/11 in the imagery, you’re not paying attention. . .

It’s rated PG-13 for violence and “sensuality.”  No question the battles are violent.  The sensuality is very low-key in my opinion, unless you consider the nearly-nude (though depicted discretely) forms of the native race to be offensive.  The imagery is not sexual, it is natural.  The need for parental guidance on this film is not because of the overt material–it’s to make sure your teenagers think about the deeper subtexts.  And they are thoughts we of the West should contemplate.

6 thoughts on “Movie Recommendation – Avatar”

  1. Mike

    I took my boys to see Avatar and I liked the movie a well.I saw the 3D version which was really cool but after awhile I got a head ache from the 3D effect.It does have religious undertones that point to a pantheistic/mother earth world view but they are subtle.The story of the exploitative nature of the materialistic world view is an ancient one and is mentioned in the book of Enoch.The Nephilim were condemned not because of their use of magic but the use of it for their own selfish interests.It was the abuse of power that was the sin; the exploitation of women and using knowledge to create weapons of war causing a disruption to the community as a whole.Another aspect I liked about the film was how it portrayed Divine intervention as a limited event which I think reflects how Divine intervention works in our world.Too much Divine intervention negates free will but a limited amount gives life to myths and miracles.Their is a scene that hints at Resurrection and maybe the Tree of Life but that might be a bit of a stretch.The religious nature of the story is presented ambiguous enough that one can weave ones own religious views into it.It's a good movie…

  2. Kurt Willems

    Wow Dan! This is the first comment I have made on a blog in several months, but I had to echo your comments! U put into words the thoughts and emotions I had as I was sitting in the theator. It was a sad and yet real look into America's dark past, present reality (somewhat), and especially our potential future. May God save us from such evil! May we participants in the reign of God choose to subvert the empire!

  3. Dan Martin

    Thanks for the link, Mike. Though I had noticed the obvious pagan earth-mother references, I don't know if I'd take the religious overtones quite as far as that writer did, though they make for an interesting analysis of the sort that'd be great in a film school or comparative literature course. IMO a bit too much erudition gets spent on parsing the subtexts of movie scripts and literary works both. I doubt most movies are really that subtle, though maybe that just proves my own naivete.

    I do think the name "Grace Augustine" (which I had missed entirely) was a great joke though.

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