Avatar the movie

  • dyfrin
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Good news there.
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  • boiled_elephant
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I hope that doesn't encourage him to continue his late move away from complex script and original plots and towards Michael Bay-ish visual weight, though. Cameron used to exercise the brain as well as the eyes...

I think I remember him saying in interview that Avatar's lack of substance was very self-conscious and deliberate, though, so shouldn't be a problem.
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I haven't watched.
  • mk27
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boiled_elephant wrote:
I hope that doesn't encourage him to continue his late move away from complex script and original plots


WHAT? Such as?

Anyway, Avatar seemed pretty substantial to me and I don't usually root for blockbusters. Of course, if you are the kind of person who is short on substance, it might be hard to tell the difference :roll:
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I just saw Avatar last night for the first time. iMAX, 3D. While I agree with many people that the plot was somewhat lacking (every part of the movie was pretty predictable), I have to admit that the visuals were pretty fantastic.
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mk27 wrote:
boiled_elephant wrote:
I hope that doesn't encourage him to continue his late move away from complex script and original plots


WHAT? Such as?

Anyway, Avatar seemed pretty substantial to me and I don't usually root for blockbusters. Of course, if you are the kind of person who is short on substance, it might be hard to tell the difference :roll:


Is that an insult? I thought Ozzu's obscurity might have saved it from that kind of juvenility...I'll reserve judgement until I know your age, though, as certain ages incur certain types of reactionary bad attitude, regardless of how otherwise well-meaning the individual is, for which they really can't be held responsible.

Anyway, to address the issue: such as Titanic, whose main plot was interesting but heavily unoriginal; and Avatar, whose plot and script are so unoriginal and cliché-ridden, respectively, that you could choke Stephanie Meyer with them. I still recommend Avatar, but your enjoyment of its cerebral components will be inversely proportionate to the number of other films you have seen, and particularly to the diversity in date of production of the films you've seen. If you'd never seen a film made before 1990, you might think Avatar was quite involving, original and well-written. If you've seen Pocahontas, The Last Samurai or Dances With Wolves, your enjoyment will be marred slightly by the lack of originality. If you've seen Aliens, many of the clever technological stylistic choices will seem rather borrowed (albeit from himself - discussion ongoing as to whether this constitutes unoriginality).

I'm still quite amazed that you accused me of insubstantiality, though. I'm brash, self-centred and unpleasant (who, after all, isn't when using the internet?) but one thing I'd like to think I definitely am is substantial, at least if you measure a person's substance by the strength of their faculties of reasoning and articulation, their disposition towards analytic thinking and the construction of opinions and arguments, and so on. But by all means, elaborate. Tell me what precisely makes me insubstantial - I presume it was more than my simply having a different experience to you of a subjective medium.
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boiled_elephant, you represent your opinions very well. I'm sure no one was trying to make it personal. I mean it's just a movie, after all.



:)
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I liked the part where the Marine dude flew in on the giant orange super chicken and was like, "yo, lets do this !" and then him and the other guy he was arguing with squashed their beef and they all worked together to put the smack down.
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boiled_elephant wrote:
Is that an insult? I thought Ozzu's obscurity might have saved it from that kind of juvenility...I'll reserve judgement until I know your age, though, as certain ages incur certain types of reactionary bad attitude, regardless of how otherwise well-meaning the individual is, for which they really can't be held responsible.


I'm gonna skip this part, I just want you to read yourself again here, kiddo. :lol:

Quote:
Anyway, to address the issue: such as Titanic, whose main plot was interesting but heavily unoriginal; and Avatar, whose plot and script are so unoriginal and cliché-ridden, respectively, that you could choke Stephanie Meyer with them.


I didn't like Titanic when I first saw it -- but I loved Aliens as a teenager, which is a "different strokes" issue. I now think they have a lot of similar themes. My whole post was motivated by this idea that Cameron is "getting away from complex script and original plots" -- like, I wanted to hear from you which previous Cameron movie displays such a thing to the extent that it makes Avatar look like a step back.

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If you've seen Aliens, many of the clever technological stylistic choices will seem rather borrowed (albeit from himself - discussion ongoing as to whether this constitutes unoriginality).


Yes, and this has nothing to do or not do with (un)originality. Those references were blatant and explicit. They are the same as a musician or a novelist would use to build upon their own oeuvre. If you have seen Aliens, you are supposed to make the identification. I have a BA in literature and humanities -- the technique is sometimes called self-referential, and everyone from Shakespeare to God does it. Half of Shakespeare is Shakespeare re-writing Shakespeare. You create angles this way that could not exist otherwise. Much of Avatar is a revisioning of Aliens. Like, for example, the perspective on the aliens themselves, and the role of "the b**ch". In Avatar, however, everyone is somewhat less innocent, but also given an opportunity that the characters in Aliens did not have.*

But you don't have to know that to enjoy the film, I think. I do think he is trying to please a wide range of people, including kids. I gotta tip my hat at what I think was a very good job of it. His dialogue sometimes seems weak or contrived, but then, so does the dialogue of real people. It's an existential flick ;)

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I'm still quite amazed that you accused me of insubstantiality, though. I'm brash, self-centred and unpleasant (who, after all, isn't when using the internet?) but one thing I'd like to think I definitely am is substantial, at least if you measure a person's substance by the strength of their faculties of reasoning and articulation, their disposition towards analytic thinking and the construction of opinions and arguments, and so on.


Yer a clown mate. That was funny, touche.

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But by all means, elaborate. Tell me what precisely makes me insubstantial - I presume it was more than my simply having a different experience to you of a subjective medium.


Well, I'm not even sure you saw the movie, you've actually said nothing about it beyond vague and subjective statements that are pretty clearly more about you than anything else.

*For example, the hero seems like a stupid oaf at first, then later you are given to wonder who's being smart and how, and why the characters adopt such poses that seem "natural and unconscious". Thrown against the background of a culture that has parallel traits (they seem childlike and naive). Of course, it is the sophisticated types in charge who prove to be the most ignorant (depending on your perspective, I guess, but to me blowing up the big tree did not seem like a wise or thoughtful act). And then a few people are metamorphosized (or martyred :( ), they have attained a sort of cathartic enlightenment (that's the opportunity that no one in Aliens had). Existential and archetypal, my two big words for today.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Great Movie,
Really awesome a must watch movie.good 3-d effects.
all in all a fantastic Screen Effects
Go watch it.
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joebert wrote:
I liked the part where the Marine dude flew in on the giant orange super chicken and was like, "yo, lets do this !" and then him and the other guy he was arguing with squashed their beef and they all worked together to put the smack down.


You're the next Roger Ebert.
  • boiled_elephant
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mk27 wrote:
<snip>


You make some good points and I think, under different motives, you'd make this a very interesting discussion. But your attitude stinks and your continual attacks on a new member basically constitute trolling; and if that isn't convincing, I'm sure few would contend that waving a degree around in a discussion like this is nothing short of egotism. That said, I'm willing to stop being an affronted reactionary cowbag if you can reciprocate and stop making patronising personal jabs - sound reasonable? :)

The point you made about contrived script, though, is very interesting. I never considered whether 'bad' script could in fact be good script if it's simply representing a bad character. A good example is the line that, for me, was the absolute low point - "We will fight terror with terror!" My immediate thought was, "Jesus, what a shameless plug of the Iraq situation!" But thinking about it, going on what we know, there's no reason to suppose American generals in the future won't have exactly the same attitude as American generals in the present. With that in mind, it's - dare I say it - quite realistic.

It has to hinge on more than just plausibility, though. Even though it's plausible, that line clearly just is a plug of the Iraq situation. There's no getting around it. And as a directorial move, that seems very cheap and lazy to me, to throw in contemporary 'hot potato' issues for the sake of seeming more profound.

edit - on a small aside, I think I have a very different understanding of the term "existential" to you...probably because you're in literature, and I'm in philosophy. Breaking out the dictionary now.

editedit - and if you don't want to drop the personal jabs, your next course simply must be to elaborate on this:
mk27 wrote:
Well, I'm not even sure you saw the movie, you've actually said nothing about it beyond vague and subjective statements that are pretty clearly more about you than anything else.

and to explain how criticisms of the plot of Titanic or of the borrowed dynamics in Avatar can be viewed as physchologically projective.
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boiled_elephant wrote:
You make some good points and I think, under different motives, you'd make this a very interesting discussion. But your attitude stinks and your continual attacks on a new member basically constitute trolling; and if that isn't convincing, I'm sure few would contend that waving a degree around in a discussion like this is nothing short of egotism.


My motives are just that I am a long time sci-fi fan and get a little defensive about it, eg, a lot of people write the genre off as juvenile, and IMO when pressed usually reveal that they are unable to approach it from a mature perspective. I don't think you are one of these as far as sci-fi goes, but I'll give you another example in a moment.

And I'm not attacking you, I'm just responding to your own level of abrasiveness. If you were a very polite person, I'd be very polite back. I don't really have a preference, I just prefer to try and talk to people in their own language, to some extent. And don't get upset -- you apparently know what "psychological projection" is; it applies far better to things like chat board messages than it does art.

As for waving a degree around, well, I'm proud of it, I did well, I consider myself an authority in the field. If someone says, "Look, I have a Biology degree and I know a few things about the study of organic chemistry", well, that's a piece of information about them. It doesn't make them automatically correct or trustworthy, of course.

Quote:
The point you made about contrived script, though, is very interesting. I never considered whether 'bad' script could in fact be good script if it's simply representing a bad character.


This may be example #1 of what I meant by the "juvenile" vs. "mature" problem. I don't think the script is contrived, except in the sense that all stories are (eg, movies get wrapped up in a few hours), I do agree Cameron uses (often tongue in cheek) contrived dialogue.* I also think he recognizes his strengths and weaknesses and has learned to exploit them very well -- eg, what he does with the "strong, silent" hero.

I appreciate subtlety (I think :lol:) but also people with heavy hands, when their aim is true.
Truth being something that I do believe in as ultimately objective.

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My immediate thought was, "Jesus, what a shameless plug of the Iraq situation!" But thinking about it, going on what we know, there's no reason to suppose American generals in the future won't have exactly the same attitude as American generals in the present. With that in mind, it's - dare I say it - quite realistic.


Yeah, that was a heavy handed line, almost punnish since of course the character cannot be intending this.

"Shameless plug" is a second example of what I meant by the false dialectic juvenile/mature. From a conservative standpoint, art should be seen and not heard, that is, to many people the most tasteful art avoids politics. Those people have two varieties: high art and low art types. The high art type loves classical music and considers any suggestion that there are still politics in Beethoven as rubbish. The low art type considers any suggestion that there are still politics in blockbuster pseudo-nihilist/escapist action-drama movies rubbish. But show me a movie, I'll show you a shameless plug for some political philosophy.

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And as a directorial move, that seems very cheap and lazy to me, to throw in contemporary 'hot potato' issues for the sake of seeming more profound.


IMO the use of a hot potato issue in Avatar is profound. Not sure if it is bound to the contemporary tho, I think it would appear much the same even if you have never heard of Iraq.

I'm from Canada like Cameron, and there is a moment in the film right before the action sequence with all the "whoop the Indians" imagery, like the flaming horse, etc, where one of the natives appears with very strong contrasted Red, white, and black face paint, standing on the side of a cliff screaming war cries in a group. She gets a close-up, then we move immediately into this very dramatic (sometimes slow-mo!) and long depiction of wholesale slaughter of what look a real lot like Indians vs. superior technology. These are the Team Canada hockey colors. She was almost a dead ringer for fans who appeared in a series of Molson (a Team Canada sponsor) beer ads for years, where they are all in the stands with this face paint on screaming for blood. These half-red half-black (painted Caucasian) faces were ubiquitous (billboards, magazine ads, TV) in Canada for what amounts to at least one whole generation. I have nothing against hockey or beer, but considering Canada's (continuing) track record with Indians, the almost transcendental significance of beer and hockey in Canada sometimes looks like at best "bread and circuses" and at worst nazi youth rallies (we are the strong ones so we shall win! and never grow up! Complete amorality.), esp. when juxtaposed like that. All this from 1/2 second of film, which I guess is partly why they take so many people so long and so many resources to make.

Is that a "shameless plug" too? What about a swastika on a wall in the background? Should we scoff at that too as being "too obvious, and not very subtle"? No, it ain't subtle -- either you see it and it is clear, or you do not see it all.

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edit - on a small aside, I think I have a very different understanding of the term "existential" to you...probably because you're in literature, and I'm in philosophy.


They are the same thing. Here's a bit from wikipedia:
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Existentialist thinkers focus on the question of concrete human existence and the conditions of this existence rather than hypothesizing a human essence, stressing that the human essence is determined through life choices. However, even though the concrete individual existence must have priority in existentialism, certain conditions are commonly held to be "endemic" to human existence.

What these conditions are is better understood in light of the meaning of the word "existence," which comes from the Latin "existere," meaning "to stand out." Man exists in a state of distance from the world that he nonetheless remains in the midst of. This distance is what enables man to project meaning into the disinterested world of in-itselfs. This projected meaning remains fragile, constantly facing breakdown for any reason — from a tragedy to a particularly insightful moment. In such a breakdown, we are put face to face with the naked meaninglessness of the world, and the results can be devastating.


Existential lit-crit tends to focus on this concern with meaning, where it comes from, and what it ultimately evaluates to. My bit about the hockey fan/alien warrior would be a kind of "insightful moment", since of course she is not a hockey fan, and JC the author is playing with the existential situation of the viewer (he just "broke in" and "rendered something fragile", inc. the understanding that tasteful filmmakers do not make these kinds of comments), which is meaningless to the character. Sartre's nausea and Kierkegaard's dread hinge on this irreconcilable rift between how supremely important the world is to you, but you are not in any way important to the world. You are whim of God, maybe...a 1/2 second of film somewhere. Pathos! It almost made me cry.

A defining trait of science fiction is that it exploits the setting (futuristic) by extracting from it some kind of conceit or trick which shifts or destabilizes how meaning gets projected. A very common example is a world where sentience is not just a human/humanoid/animal thing (which is not impossible to imagine). A variation on this, used in Avatar, is where "human" sentience transcends the human body and it's existential concerns (that is, concerns derived from the state of being-human-in-the-world). This distills the existential concerns of the sentient mind, for example, it sharpens the significance of what it means to be a singular being aware of itself in the universe.** Avatar doesn't take this very far (Philip K. Dick does); I would say it is most apparent in the development of Signory Weaver's character. It also does not have to lead to anything, which is why some people rightly observe that bad sci-fi is superficial and clings to gimmicks. Taken a long way, you get situations that seem absurd with characters that are literally lost in space, their own minds, some kind of matrix, etc. A naive or juvenile approach to sci-fi wants to leave at this point, perhaps because subconsciously there is a recognition that this is, in fact, about as strongly presented a critique of socio-cultural myopia as you can get -- at the same time as it is impossible to avoid the meaninglessness and absurdity, you are still stuck with an individual of some sort in a world that is at least real to them. A naive or juvenile approach to existentialism simply treats it as an observation: that the world does not mean anything beyond what we project into it. This mistakenly conflates existentialism with nihilism. But the existentialists (dead and living, literary and purely philosophical) regard/intend this as a path to a form of enlightenment, grounded in the reality of the individual's existence (your one immutable fact).***

One of the things sci-fi makes possible is an intensified focus on the (ultimately intractable) relationship between being and meaning.

* the first Star Wars is absolutely terrible this way: the dialogue is mostly pitched at a 6-8 year old level.
** as opposed to say, being just another unit, member of a race or class of beings.
*** nb, there are TWO immutable facts in any writer-reader relation.
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I'll probably reply in more depth when I'm less sleep-deprived, but just at a summary glance it strikes me that your enjoyment of the film stems more from the richness of your ideas and projected meanings rather than the film's actual ideas and meanings - that the depth of your learning gives a richer quality to any work which depicts, with reasonable success, traditional dramatic themes.

The preoccupations with existential concerns and such, for example, seem like quite a stretch - not in themselves, of course! But they only seem to me to be present in the film insofaras they can be said to be present in any human drama - that is, by retelling a very typical plot with realistic, familiar characters, Cameron may have accidentally echoed deeper themes that run through all such stories.

I only offer this as a possibility. I don't know much about Cameron as a director, and I haven't watched the making ofs, commentaries, etc. (AFAIK they're not out yet, but I certainly will be doing when it comes out in stores). But doesn't it seem possible - that these deeper meanings are incidental, rather than contrived?

As for cases of rewarding attention to detail such as the reference to Canadian culture and relations, I think I'd need a clearer understanding of the standard film creation process before judging, but I'm reluctant to assume that's Cameron and solely Cameron. One thing the LOTR appendices impressed upon me is that, in the necessarily huge teams making these films, creative impetus is very distributed, and ideas trickle in from all corners. I'm not saying those little touches aren't to the film's overall credit - but they may not necessarily be to Cameron's.
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boiled_elephant wrote:
I'll probably reply in more depth when I'm less sleep-deprived, but just at a summary glance it strikes me that your enjoyment of the film stems more from the richness of your ideas and projected meanings rather than the film's actual ideas and meanings - that the depth of your learning gives a richer quality to any work which depicts, with reasonable success, traditional dramatic themes.


That would make me some kind of delusional megalomaniac, which I'm not. The other possibility is that I am just looking at it in a straightforward analytical way based on the fact that "I know something about the study of organic chemistry" (which is probably not something you would do if say, you thought it was useless) and I don't really doubt the fact that many people in Hollywood do too.

Quote:
I don't know much about Cameron as a director, and I haven't watched the making ofs, commentaries, etc. (AFAIK they're not out yet, but I certainly will be doing when it comes out in stores). But doesn't it seem possible - that these deeper meanings are incidental, rather than contrived?


I don't know that much about James Cameron but I don't think he exists in a vacuum, never reads books, or has not actually been writing sci-fi screenplays since 1978 when I was five.* I don't know if he would completely agree with me altho I think if you look closely I am just describing objective details and projecting meaning on to them ;) which may be somewhat unique to me as an individual. I think we already understand this is a central premise of existentialism. A lot of Philip K. Dick's stuff is preoccupied with main characters who develop incredibly idiosyncratic perspectives that may have a lot of objective validity based on bizarre events "in the world" but which preclude the possibility of mutual assent -- that is, the main character does not have a relationship to another sentience wherein mutual assent of the meaning of events can be confirmed, but in our privileged perspective as the audience we can provide it, and it is easy to understand the rationality of the subject. They're "thought experiments". I mention Dick just because Cameron almost certainly knows enough about him to (for example) recognize that what I'm saying could have come off the back of a Philip K. Dick novel. But maybe not.*

If you are saying, "Well, what if no one specifically intended you to make this connection between the painted face and beer commercials", I'm saying it would be harder to disprove, and techniques like that seem to me to be commonly enough acknowledged in the art world. There is nothing crucial about that specific example, my point was by example all the way back to yours about the "We'll fight terror with terror!" Sometimes a rose is just a rose, eh? If you want to be a complete skeptic, you might as well say the analogy with the Western military industrial complex (so named by a US President) is totally projection as well and that this was not at all intended, it's just an action-adventure movie in 3D. ** I'm going the other way and saying the movie is not just a superficial moral fable with overtones from current events.

boiled_elephant wrote:
I
The preoccupations with existential concerns and such, for example, seem like quite a stretch - not in themselves, of course! But they only seem to me to be present in the film insofaras they can be said to be present in any human drama - that is, by retelling a very typical plot with realistic, familiar characters, Cameron may have accidentally echoed deeper themes that run through all such stories.


I didn't say that the film is pre-occupied with existentialist concerns and I don't think it is, I just provided "an existentialist interpretation" of the film which I think it lends itself to very easily. I suppose "they only seem to me to be present in the film insofaras they can be said to be present in any human drama", since I could provide you with an existentialist interpretation of any film -- except again, I think the film very favorably lends itself. It is not as if "existentialist elements" are that strange a presence in film-making, IMO they are kind of ubiquitous, so they could be unusually present at the same time as the film need not be pre-occupied with them.

It might be worth noting that most of the predominant streams of late 20th century literary criticism are explicitly derived in part from the work of existentialists. Eg, deconstruction comes from Nietzsche->Heidegger->Derrida, at least according to Derrida. And Sartre. And deconstruction was first and foremost a form of literary criticism -- in fact, this is the famous point where philosophy and literature become conflated. Consider that idea that "I am just describing objective details and projecting meaning on to them ;) which may be somewhat unique to me as an individual". Deconstruction*** is also very concerned with psycho-analytic theory, which comes to be heavily influenced by existentialism. Freud is in part about the perversity (and ultimate inescapability) of projected meaning. Which is to say, in reality "somewhat unique" is a big caveat.

I'm not that unique. I just know a lot of stuff that you can pick up by taking the reading seriously in an arts degree (and not going: "Oh, yeah, Freud, I already know what that fool said", etc) which I am already assured lots of other people in the world possess that same knowledge. And I'm Canadian and more or less have Molson beer commercials etched in the back of my skull. That ain't particularly unique.

Furthermore, In a 150 minute film that took X hundred people 4 years to make, don't you think that huge amounts of concentration went into every frame? That does not guarantee you anything, but it certainly creates the opportunity and possibility. I'm not saying Cameron wrote it all in, but he was drawing from a sort of deep well and using some common, familiar themes.

Quote:
As for cases of rewarding attention to detail such as the reference to Canadian culture and relations, I think I'd need a clearer understanding of the standard film creation process before judging, but I'm reluctant to assume that's Cameron and solely Cameron. One thing the LOTR appendices impressed upon me is that, in the necessarily huge teams making these films, creative impetus is very distributed, and ideas trickle in from all corners. I'm not saying those little touches aren't to the film's overall credit - but they may not necessarily be to Cameron's.


Right, and within each group whereby of necessity 100% of the people understand what is otherwise a common (but not universal) theme what common themes are there? It's recursive :lol:


* tho probably. PKD is a pretty famous guy, and during JC's career a number of very bigscreen adaptations of PKD novels (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, maybe a few more I can't remember) have been made.
** altho James Cameron has already admitted that the "analogy" was intended
*** a naive interpretation of deconstruction is that it negates thru dissection






* that I found out from a filmography
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Just to clarify, I certainly wasn't claiming that the allusion to the beer commercials and Canadian culture was accidental, or doubting that every single frame of a film like this is laboriously crafted and thought-out. That would be pretty naive. I'm just not clear on how accurate it is to talk of it being "James Cameron's film", to what extent the film's themes and details were his responsibility. Discerning this is made more complicated for me, personally, because I've seen making ofs that indicate opposite extremes - some films really being the director's film, and others being a very collaborative effort on every level.

I'd like to go back a step, though, and return to the point about referencing current events, 'politicizing' art, being cheap and distasteful, because I sensed that that's where our real disagreement lies. We seem to have fairly similar and accurate understandings of what was actually being done with Avatar, but disagree about whether or not it's to the detriment of the film, which I'd like to explore more.

The analogies to America's recent foreign policy (Iraq, oil, et cetera) and to the history of the Native Americans are the obvious ones. Why do you not think that these cheapen the film?

I'll approach it the other way and try to answer why I do. I find them patronizing, because playing them straight, as Avatar does, sort of implicitly assumes that I won't notice them, or am not already aware of these real-life moral issues and need to be spoon-fed my moral lessons in an indirect way. It felt like the film was trying to teach me something, and its tone throughout hammed it up so strongly that it felt as if these moral lessons were meant to be surprising and eye-opening to me.

It's possible I'm simply misunderstanding the film's intended effect upon an audience. As annoying as intentionalist dependency is, I think an insight into Cameron's motives might have spared me this discomfort while I was watching Avatar. How do you understand the straight-faced inclusion of such allusions and analogies, that they don't seem patronising to you?

(incidentally, as a Lit graduate, could you please resolve in my mind once and for all whether 'patronize' should be a Z or an S >.< )
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Is Picasso's Guernica distasteful because it is explicitly "about" the Spanish Civil War?
Image
Vis, you don't need a lecture on moralism: what do you need? :roll: In any case, there was no lecture, unless you supplied it yourself. I was not told to consider the destruction of the big tree a negative thing; as I said earlier, that really depends upon your (existential) perspective which is somewhat unique. It so happens that I did consider it that. Is Picasso glorifying or condemning violence in this picture?

The plot of Avatar has nothing concrete to do with the Iraq war except for some vague points. I think JC the author has said it is about colonialism but nothing more specific. So in fact, you can consider it a very poor parallel -- that does not matter or affect the significance of the action in the film. The parallel is too fragmented, eg, really it is mostly because on the one side you have "marines". Of course there are mercenaries. That's all. Mercenaries are not so unique either. Since the film seems pretty straight, I think it's safe to assume we do witness the truth of the critical events. Not much is hidden or unexplained. But in saying, I think the destruction of the big tree was a poor choice, etc, etc, I am not saying anything about the Iraq war. At the same time as I have my head too full of existentialism, perhaps you have yours too full of political punditry? Again, I think this was a theme but I did not experience the movie as being preoccupied with political commentary either. There were some "sickly sweet" scenes I would associate with Disney, and which always seem politically charged to me, but they did not predominate.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Omg, I think I just jizzed. We've been talking about the Guernica constantly in Aesthetics, it's our token example for illustrating different theories :)

And on-topic: hm. Good point.

More on this later, I'm meant to be writing about Islam at the moment.

edit - right, the other thing I wanted to return to in more detail was the other main bugbear many people had with the film, and probably the one that's been picked up on most frequently by critics - the unoriginality of the storyline.

I won't insult your intelligence by spelling out, as so many have already done many times, how borrowed this film's plot is. And unlike the stylistic choices, they are not borrowed from other Cameron films and do not, therefore, precisely constitute a progression of his own work. The Last Samurai, Princess Mononoke, Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas. I like all of these films, and I like Avatar (a point which might have been unclear until now :) ) but they're so similar it gets hard to swallow.

Do you think unoriginality is a bad thing in this respect? Personally I overlooked it at the time, along with most of the movie's (seeming, to me) flaws because it looked so gorgeous, was so well-paced and the subplot of his character's arc - the shift away from his own real body, the issue of his disability and liberation from it, his inauguration into the tribe - was so engrossing that I just didn't care. But now, in retrospect, the borrowed nature of the plot is starting to grate a little. I know, we all know, that Cameron could have brought something a lot more original and fresh to the table if he'd been so inclined.
  • boiled_elephant
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Post 3+ Months Ago

No debate love? :(
  • George L.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

boiled_elephant wrote:
No debate love? :(


How's Cameron's movie supposed to be original in your viewpoint ?
  • boiled_elephant
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Er, it's not, that's my point. You mean how could it be? Well, it'd be absurd to insist on absolute originality - that's probably impossible. But almost all good works bring an original, personal touch to familiar ground, or mix things up in different ways. They develop ideas. As enjoyable as Avatar was, its original touches were purely on the visual level: the plot was incredibly lifted, and didn't develop any ideas other than swapping out the token indigenous race and mixing in some sci-fi hallmarks.

Went to see it again last weekend. The 'fight terror with terror' line bothered me less this time because I realised it's actually perfectly plausible in context.

As to your original question, mk, of whether explicit reference to current events diminishes a work - I still don't know. Trying to decide just has me going round in circles.
  • George L.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi boiled_elephant, I guess you're into Pocahontas? and Last Samurai? So you're also into Patch Adams?

How was the plot incredibly lifted?
  • boiled_elephant
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It was just exactly the same. Pocahontas, Avatar, The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves were totally interchangeable. I still haven't decided whether unoriginality is a bad thing, mind. That's kind of the issue here.

Just in case it isn't clear, I do like Avatar.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think the iMAX had a lot to do with the movies success. More so than the plot, the characters, or anything else.

I can't wait to see how Alice in Wonderland turns out in iMAX. If there's anything better than a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp playing one of the whackjob characters, it's a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp playing one of the whackjob characters IN YOUR FACE with iMAX 3D. :D
  • SB
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Post 3+ Months Ago

boiled_elephant wrote:
Just in case it isn't clear, I do like Avatar.


I would certainly hope so if you are prepared to spent at least 6 hours of your life watching it in the cinema :lol:

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