[These are two interesting articles that I came across today in regards to the amazing movie Avatar. The first one is bringing up feelings of just how badly we want to go home (we’re starting to subconsciously remember!) and the second one shows how the fear-based baddies are trying to keep the indigo/crystal/rainbows from seeing it. Tony]
The Avatar effect:
Movie-goers feel depressed and even suicidal at not being able to visit utopian alien planet
By Liz Thomas
12th January 2010
A utopian planet inhabited by blue aliens is the ideal setting for a bit of cinematic escapism.
But the world of the sci-fi epic Avatar is so perfect the line between fact and fiction has become somewhat blurred.
Movie-goers have admitted being plagued by depression and suicidal thoughts at not being able to visit the planet Pandora.
Set in the future when Earth’s resources have been depleted, director James Cameron’s film tells the story of a corporation trying to mine a rare mineral.
The humans clash with the natives – a peace-loving race of 7ft tall [more like 13-15ft tall – as you increase in dimensionality, you increase in physicality (which I thought was a nice touch by Cameron)], blue-skinned creatures called the Na’vi, who exist in perfect harmony with nature.
Fans have flooded the internet with their confused feelings. On the site Avatar Forums, the topic ‘Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible’ has more than 1,000 posts.
In a similar forum, one user wrote: ‘When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed grey. It just seems so meaningless.
‘I still don’t really see any reason to keep doing things at all. I live in a dying world.’
On another site, one fan was even more affected, admitting: ‘I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.’
On the Avatar site Naviblue, a fan calling himself Jorba has even asked others to join him in starting a real Na’vi tribe.
The blockbuster movie – which has already taken more than $1billion at the box office – tells the story of a disabled marine sent on a mission to a planet called Pandora, home to a race of giant blue aliens.
Humans are intent on exploiting the planet for its resources but clash with the native Na’vi, who inhabit their world in perfect harmony with nature.
This fantasy world, with its weird and wonderful plant and animal life, is brought to life using stunning special effects.
The Consumer Electronics Show, which ended in Las Vegas on Sunday, saw the advent of 3D televisions making most of the news.
Many commentators believe that 2010 is the breakthrough year for the technology helped by 3D movies such as Avatar.
The stunning beauty of the film as well as the view of corporations seems to have hit a nerve with audiences.
The incredible visual realism of the film could mean viewers become particularly attached.
Dr. Stephan Quentzel, psychiatrist and Medical Director for the Louis Armstrong Centre for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York told CNN: ‘Virtual life is not real life and it never will be, but this is the pinnacle of what we can build in a virtual presentation so far.
‘It has taken the best of our technology to create this virtual world and real life will never be as utopian as it seems onscreen. It makes real life seem more imperfect.’
But not everyone viewing the film has been hit by the ‘Avatar Blues’, as a small but vocal group have alleged it contains racist themes – the white hero once again saving the primitive natives.
Since the film opened three weeks ago, hundreds of blog posts, newspaper articles, tweets and YouTube videos have said things such as the film is ‘a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people’ and that it reinforces ‘the white Messiah fable’.”
The film’s writer and director, James Cameron, says the real theme is about respecting others’ differences.
Adding to the racial dynamic is that the main Na’vi characters are played by actors of colour, led by a Dominican, Zoe Saldana, as the princess.
The film also is an obvious metaphor for how European settlers in America wiped out the Indians.
David Brooks, a columnist writing in the New York Times said: ‘Avatar is a racial fantasy par excellence … It rests on the stereotype that white people are rationalist and technocratic while colonial victims are spiritual and athletic.
‘It rests on the assumption that non-white need the White Messiah to lead their crusades.
‘It rests on the assumption that illiteracy is a path to grace.’
Robinne Lee, an actress in such recent films as ‘Seven Pounds’ said that ‘Avatar’ was ‘beautiful’ and that she understood the economic logic of casting a white lead if most of the audience is white.
But she said the film, which so far has the second-highest worldwide box-office gross ever, still reminded her of Hollywood’s Pocahontas story – ‘the Indian woman leads the white man into the wilderness, and he learns the way of the people and becomes the saviour’.
‘It’s really upsetting in many ways,’ said Ms Lee, who is black with Jamaican and Chinese ancestry. ‘It would be nice if we could save ourselves.’
Although the “Avatar” debate springs from Hollywood’s historical difficulties with race, Will Smith recently saved the planet in I Am Legend,” and Denzel Washington appears ready to do the same in the forthcoming Book of Eli.
‘Can’t people just enjoy movies any more?’ a person named Michelle posted on the website for Essence, the magazine for black women.
Black film professor and author Donald Bogle said he can understand why people would be troubled by ‘Avatar’, but stopped short of calling the movie racist.
‘It’s a film with still a certain kind of distortion,’ he said.
‘It’s a movie that hasn’t yet freed itself of old Hollywood traditions, old formulas.’
Vatican Slams ‘Avatar’
ALESSANDRA RIZZO | 01/12/10
VATICAN CITY — “Avatar” is wooing audiences worldwide with visually dazzling landscapes and nature-loving blue creatures. But the Vatican is no easy crowd to please.
The Vatican newspaper and radio station are criticizing James Cameron’s 3-D blockbuster for flirting with the idea that worship of nature can replace religion – a notion the pope has warned against. They call the movie a simplistic and sappy tale, despite its awe-inspiring special effects.
“Not much behind the images” was how the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, summed it up in a headline.
As the second highest-grossing movie ever, “Avatar” is challenging the record set by Cameron’s previous movie “Titanic.”
Generally it has been critically acclaimed and is touted as a leading Oscar contender.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, has praised “Avatar” for what he calls its message of saving the environment from exploitation. But the movie also has drawn a number of critical voices. Some American conservative bloggers have decried its anti-militaristic message; a small group of people have said the movie contains racist themes.
To Vatican critics, the alien extravaganza is just “bland.”
Cameron “tells the story without going deep into it, and ends up falling into sappiness,” said L’Osservatore Romano. Vatican Radio called it “rather harmless” but said it was no heir to sci-fi masterpieces of the past.
Most significantly, much of the Vatican criticism was directed at the movie’s central theme of man vs. nature.
L’Osservatore said the film “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Similarly, Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”
“Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship,” the radio said.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that while the movie reviews are just that – film criticism, not theological pronouncements – they do reflect Pope Benedict XVI’s views on the dangers of turning nature into a “new divinity.”
Benedict has often spoken about the need to protect the environment, earning the nickname of “green pope.” But he also has balanced that call with a warning against turning environmentalism into neo-paganism.
In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human beings with other living things in the name of a “supposedly egalitarian vision.” He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.”
The pope explained in the message that while many experience tranquillity and peace when coming into contact with nature, a correct relationship between man and the environment should not lead to “absolutizing nature” or “considering it more important than the human person.”
The Vatican newspaper occasionally likes to comment in its cultural pages on movies or pop culture icons, as it did recently about “The Simpsons” or U2. In one famous instance, several Vatican officials spoke out against “The Da Vinci Code.”
In this case, the reviews came out after a red-carpet “Avatar” preview held in Rome just a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square. The movie – which has made more than $1.3 billion at box offices worldwide, partly boosted by higher 3-D ticket prices – will be released Friday in Italy.
“So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions,” said L’Osservatore in one of three articles devoted to “Avatar” in its Sunday editions. The plotline of aliens who live on a distant unspoiled planet and the humans who want to pillage their resources is a universal theme that can be reminiscent of past colonizations and wars, the paper said. As such, it is easy to relate to it, but also unoriginal.
“Everything is reduced to an overly simple anti-imperialistic and anti-militaristic parable,” it said.
In America, the big numbers and media hype have been accompanied by some controversy.
Blog posts, newspaper articles, tweets and YouTube videos have criticized the film, with some calling it “a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people” and that it reinforces “the white Messiah fable.” Cameron says the real theme is about respecting others’ differences.
An LA Times blog noted that the movie “has inflamed the passions of right-wing bloggers and pundits.”
“Cameron incensed many voices on the right by acknowledging of-the-moment messages about imperialism, greed, ecological disregard and corporate irresponsibility,” it said. Anti-smoking lobbies have denounced the cigarette-puffing character played by Sigourney Weaver.
Back at the Vatican, the reviews did praise the groundbreaking visuals of the movie.
Vatican Radio said that “really never before have such surprising images been seen,” while L’Osservatore said the movie’s worth lies in its “extraordinary visual impact.”
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