Would you risk your life to save a different race?
Today we’ll discuss Avatar (2009), ranked #21 of best sci-fi movies of all time! It features Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver and was directed by the director of Aliens, Titanic and Terminator: James Cameron.
When his brother is killed in a robbery, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge’s intentions of driving off the native humanoid “Na’vi” in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch, while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na’vi people with the use of an “avatar” identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri, the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand – and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora.
You can watch the trailer here:
The first time I watched this movie, I watched it in 3D. It was the first movie I watched in 3D, too. I was breathless the entire movie. The visuals, the story, the… everything, made me wish the movie lasted longer than those three hours. I thought it was fantastic.
What I particularly enjoyed is how brilliantly they portrayed an alien world and the alien culture. It was done very creatively and in a way it was magical, not in the very least because of the spectacular graphics. Never have I seen a movie before where the computer graphics were so advanced and real looking. Watch this video if you’re interested in how they created the world of Pandora.
Some people might find Avatar a too moralistic story (or even corny), after all, it’s about how the human race comes to an alien planet to steal their resources, without respecting the inhabitants of the planet and nearly destroying them and their world in the process. Then, the locals “strike back” and somehow win, although they’re far behind in technological advancement. How often have we not seen or read stories like this?
It’s the execution that makes it work though. The story is well written, the writers make you care dearly about the Na’vi and make you hate your own kind – although you will without a doubt love Jake Sully, the hero of the story.
I know this is a question that’s highly subjective to social desirability bias, but what would you do if you were Jake Sully? Would you too want to protect the alien race? I think you’d be surprised how many people would just go ahead and follow the authorities (read this if you don’t believe me). Not many people go ahead and defy their leaders, whether it be a police or military officer, or any other authoritative figure you deem credible.
Would you be ready to give up your life for other people? Our Western individualistic consumer culture doesn’t really inspire these kind of selfless acts, I think.
Please share your thoughts about the philosophy behind this movie – did you pick up other philosophies than I?
If you haven’t seen this movie yet (which I doubt), you should go see it as soon as possible. If you’ve seen it, were you as amazed as I was, or did you think it was less great?
Before you go… Don’t forget to participate in this week’s Weird Phenomenon Flash Fiction Challenge: “The Hum“!