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Avatar: Oscar Contender?

I finally made it to the cinema to see the movie that has people talking: Avatar. A spectacular sci-fi/fantasy action movie with an Aussie, Sam Worthington in the lead and the ‘King of the World’ director, James Cameron, at the helm.

I now see why it has people excited. Beautifully shot, using state of the art cinematography and CGI, it transports the audience onto the planet Pandora and into the lives of the indigenous population, the blue-skinned, ten feet tall, Na’vi.

The hero of the movie is a disabled, wheelchair bound marine, a ‘grunt’ named Sully who, in a decision based on economic rationalism, takes his dead brother’s place in a scientific research team. This means, he inherits his brother’s avatar – a ‘native’ grown from human and Na’vi DNA which the marine can ‘insert’ himself into. Not only does he have control of his inert limbs in his new form, but he finds a freedom with the Na’vi and on the planet that his military training (brainwashing) did not allow.

Instead of a patriarchal and capitalist system, Sully finds a culture in tune with its deity and nature – who are, in essence, one and the same. The environmental thrust of the movie is apparent; the significance of the female is too, not at the expense of the male, but working in tandem. Something Sully learns to appreciate. Romance flourishes in this fertile world – and not just between the characters. Audiences will find it hard not to fall in love with the world portrayed and feel protective about what is threatened. I also enjoyed the moral superiority of the scientists… doesn’t happen all to often in this genre!

Eyes and the notion of ‘seeing’ are strong motifs and themes in this movie and the central character, Sully, has his eyes opened to a whole new world – literally and metaphorically. So do we. Cameron’s planet, Pandora is a beautiful, lush place, imaginatively realised but, like its namesake from Greek mythology, its colonisation by humans with the intent to profit, opens a box of trouble…

Whether or not Cameron will win a Best Picture or Director Oscar for this film remains to be seen – no doubt, it will get some technical nods. It’s hard to imagine the Academy awarding a film that represents the military in such a negative light or uses the still raw memory of the collapse of the Twin Towers in an analogous manner to evoke a visceral anti-US response.

I really enjoyed this film. What did you think? (Oh, and I know that I am late seeing it – for health reasons – but I still tried not to put any spoilers in – I didn’t, did I???)

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