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Friday, January 1, 2010

AVATAR- a wonderful film on environment

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The Poster of Avatar

The year 2009 passed with a message of protecting and preserving biodiversity and the victory of nature over resource-greedy imperialistic forces in the form of Avatar an American- British epic science- environment fiction film released on December 17 in the United States in traditional 2D and 3D format along with an IMAX 3D.


The film
The film was written, conceptualized and directed by Canadian film maker James Cameron. It was produced by Light Storm Entertainment, distributed by 20th Century Fox and premiered in London on December 10 starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.

Budget and Technology
Avatar as per reports is officially budgeted $ 237 million. However, some estimates put the cost of production from$280 - $310 million and the cost of marketing $150 million. This film is considered as a break through in terms of film making technology, for its development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic film making with specially designed cameras. On the opening day the film has been reportedly estimated to gross $27 million and to gross $ 241,571,046 on the opening weekend.

Main theme
Avatar is a science-environment fiction based on the theme of interdependence of components of nature and protection of biodiversity by native people fighting against imperialism. According to the film director it shares themes with At Play in the field of the Lord and the Emerald Forest “which feature clashes between cultures and civilizations” and acknowledged the film’s connection with “Dances with wolves”. In “Dances with wolves” a battered soldier finds himself drawn to the tribal culture he was initially fighting against.

Title of the film
The meaning of name of the film AVATAR, according to Cameron is “an incarnation of one of the Hindu Gods taking a flesh form”. In this film what that means is the human technology in future (i.e. up to AD 2154) is capable of injecting a human’s intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body. It is not an Avatar in the sense of just existing as ones and zeroes in the cyberspace. It is actually a physical body. “Avatar, in fact, relates to remotely controlled, genetically engineered human- Na’vi bodies used by film’s human characters to interact with natives.

Meaning of avatar as per the Hindu mythology
Avatar in traditional Hindu religious beliefs refers to the appearance in physical form, having descended from heaven to earth, of a God or deity. Mostly translated in English as “incarnation” it accurately means as “appearance” or “manifestation”. The term is popularly associated with the Hindu God Vishnu, though applied for some other Hindu Gods too.Garun Purana mentions ten avatars whereas Bhagwat Geeta mentions twenty avatars of Vishnu. Some of avatars of Vishnu are - Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narsimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki, and Mohini.See following images of ten avatars of Vishnu as mentioned in the Garun Purana.

Different Incarnations of the Hindu God Vishnu

Vishnu's Mohini Avatar

Story of the film
The story of the film starts in future in AD 2154 on Pandora which is an earth sized moon, one of the fictional gas giants orbiting Alpha Centaury A and inhabited by specific tribe able to breathe in Pandora’s atmosphere which is rich in carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia. Human beings can not survive in the atmosphere of Pandora without using any extra device. The indigenous people of Pandora belong to a Paleolithic Sapient humanoids called as Na’vi. These are 9feet tall with tails and bioluminescent blur skin and living in harmony with nature of Pandora. They worship mother Goddess Eywa.

Pandora in the story of avatar is 4.4 light years (280, oooAU) away from Earth. It is lush and low gravity moon rich in minerals and biodiversity. There is a most precious mineral reserve called unobtainium. Humans on earth seek to exploit mineral resources and biodiversity of Pandora and organize a human corporation employing former marines and soldiers as mercenaries under Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), the head of the mining operations. Since humans are unable to breathe in Pandora’s atmosphere human researchers create the AVATAR Programme of genetically engineering Human-Na’vi Hybrids under senior scientist Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver). According to the director – “a human who shares genetic material with an avatar is mentally linked to it, allowing them to control it while their own body sleeps”.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Thomas are twin brothers. Jake was paralyzed below the waist in combat on earth. Thomas is a scientist working in avatar program. Jake is compatible with his brother’s avatar so when Thomas was killed, Jake takes his place. Dr. Augustine has never used an avatar and has no knowledge of Na’vi culture. Hence he is unhappy of Jake’s presence at that place. Jake was once assigned to escort Dr. Augustine and a biologist named Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) through the jungle which is very hostile. When the group is attacked by a thanator, a large predator, Jake becomes separated from others and is left behind for the night.

Jake becomes successful in defending him from dangerous creatures of jungle in his avatar body. A female Na’vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) rescues Jake and gets attracted towards her. She takes him to the Na’vi’s home tree which is the spiritual and geographical home of her clan. The Na’vi decide to teach Jake about their culture. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) orders Jake to go on a diplomatic mission of obtaining the trust of the Na’vi clan and to convince them to abandon their home tree standing on a large deposit of unobtainium within three months. Jake is now badly caught between the military industrial forces of earth and his love for Neytiri. Jake tames a flying creature known as Banshee. Once when he is flying with Neytiri he is attacked by a Toruk which is a formidable and revered winged creature and the largest on Pandora. Neytiri explained him that one who could tame and band with Toruk can get strength of uniting the whole Na’vi clan and lead in a battle. Jake and Neytiri choose each other as mates which makes Tsu’Tey (Laz Alonse) jealous who is heir to the chieftainship of the tribe and is already selected as Neytiri’s mate. Jake remains silent on human’s plan and thus the deadline passes out. After this humans start destruction by employing heavy machines including bulldozers. Jake requests for more time to convince Na’vi to leave but his request did not work and Selfridge orders for assault on hometree.Human forces destroy home tree resulting in the death of Eytucan (Wes Studi), the father of Neytiri.

Tsu’Tey and Neytiri’s father are killed in the war. Jake assembles a large number of Na’vi to fight with human forces, prays to Eywa to support Na’vi in the battle. The wildlife of Pandora launches a mass attack suddenly and humans get defeated and forced to leave Pandora. The soul of Jake is transplanted from the human body to his avatar body near the tree of souls. With this the film ends.Thus the film shows victory of biodiversity on imperialism.

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