Saturday, December 26, 2009

AVATAR's message

Before going home this Christmas, my suitor (tehee!! ('0') and I agreed to meet before I went home for the Christmas break. Avatar is the movie that came to my mind. As I was already trying to nap for not to miss the good scenes of the movie on last full show when I remembered I promised a friend to attend her spaghetti party.Oh no! I almost forgot! So I was hesitant to pursue watching Avatar since dinner and videoke after was the plan.

It’s already the start of the holidays, parties here and there, friends did not arrive to the spag party. And since I’ll be going home the next day and surely my suitor will miss me (haha!), so I excused myself for the videoke session. Three friends already watched the movie during the day and they were raving bout it. Worth your time and money, they said. Hmmm…I really need to see it for myself then.

9:45PM. There was already a line in Cinema 3 in NCCC for AVATAR. Young and Young once. It’s a good sign. We got a good seat at the center and after sitting, two kids sat beside us. When the story started to unfold, I was in awe. I can relate to the struggle of the Na’vi, fighting for Pandora and the rich resources they have that the Earth people desperately needs. This is what I have been writing about ancestral domain struggle of indigenous peoples and I am watching it on the big screen!

The time is set on 2154 wherein Earthlings has already used up the resources and is now on the look-out for another sources. Pandora, a moon roughly the same size as Earth contains minerals worth $20 Million per kilo! That’s a lot of money so a corporation is set to conquer it at all costs!

At first they have tried “peaceful” means to ‘subjugate’ the Na’vi’s by ‘educating’ them, teaching them English (reminds me of American's benevolent assimilation..hhmm..). But they could not let them say yes for their project to extract the precious minerals. To do it, they found another brilliant military strategy. By the aid of science, they were able to clone and create mind-controlled avatars that resembles the Na’vi’s in every way.

Here comes Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), a paralyzed ex-Marine who tried to fill his brothers’ shoes and wanted to make his own mark; took his brother’s avatar and was encouraged by Col. Miles Quaritch to study the ways of the “savages” and help them to gather information to make a direct and ‘easy’ strategy of extracting the minerals.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

In the end, after taking all the necessary lessons to learn the Navi’s ways, Jake learned they are not ‘savages” at all. He fell in love with Neytiri (the daughter of the Navi’s head chief) and was in dilemma to pursue his promise to Col. Quatrich (and Quatrich's promise of new legs for him) and for the Earth people or to fight for The People of Pandora. He was already accepted to the tribe and he's in quandary. Is destroying Pandora will be worth for the new legs? Can he betray The People? The information he gave was used. He betrayed the Na' vis. He regretted it and to repay their good deeds, he led the Navi armies during Col. Quatrich's attack. He even hunt the great dragon and led other Na 'vi hunters for the war.

Good thing, Jake is being supported by other good-natured scientists and pilot (played by Michelle Rodriguez, a Fil-Am actress).

Jake and Neytiri

The minerals is located at the heart of Pandora, under the oldest and ‘Tree of Souls’ that is the source of life of all life forms in the forest. Dr. Grace Agustine, the head researcher and writer of a book about the Na’vis understood the interrelationships of lifeforms in Pandora and tried to stop Parker Selfriedge (Giovanni Ribisi), the corporate guy from destroying the forest. But greed and profit is strong. Military were deployed and attacked the area. But the Na’ vi’s never stop fighting. The Na Vi’s organized the other tribes and fought hard. So many lives were lost. But through The People, The Na’Vi’s strong resistance and unity of tribes and even animals to be affected by the destruction, they won.

Despite the three-hour rolling, there are no boring scenes. The filming of the movie itself was delayed since James Cameron, the director waited for the technology to be perfected. He wanted to use a photo-realistic computer-generated characters by using motion-capture animation technology. The film also used the newly developed stereoscopic camera. And the output is really excellent. The illuminating tree where Eywa (the Na’Vi goddess) and the ancestors reside is spellbinding. It showed a more enhanced cinematography.

"It's this form of pure creation where if you want to move a tree or a mountain or the sky or change the time of day, you have complete control over the elements."
—James Cameron on virtual filmmaking

The movie has an overt message against extractive industries that caused global climate change. Jame Cameron is an environmentalist and he said in an interview that “industrialist society’ has destroyed societies faster than we are able to identify species. He also referred to the war that United States had waged to Iraq, Vietnam and its colonial period to emphasize the fact that humans have a "terrible history" of "entitlement" in which we "take what we need" from nature and indigenous peoples "and don't give back." (Yahoo Movies interview)

The movie is also a reflection of the struggle of the indigenous peoples and rural communities in the hinterlands of Mindanao. Mining and other ‘development projects” is lnked with militarization and human rights violations; pitting lumads against lumads. The movie also showed the military and corporations cooperation to pursue the destruction. In our case here in Mindanao, this current administration is guilty of using the military in “protecting the interests of the investors”- Oplan Bantay Laya, Investment Defense Force, EastMinCom-AFP, 10th Infantry Division-AFP, and Task Force Gantangan.

I’m thankful for James Cameron- for the visual treat and for mainstreaming social issues like global climate change, human rights violations and indigenous peoples issues on land and mineral resources ownership.

AVATAR is an activist’s dream movie. I strongly recommend it for kids and the kids at heart.



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