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A review by Stephen Simon
Avatar is simply unlike any other film ever made. The
experience of Avatar in 3D is a glimpse into the potential
of film to literally immerse the viewer in the story. We actually
materialize in the onscreen world. Even more amazingly, the
spirituality of the story of Avatar is on a par with its
technology. We truly aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. We’re on
Pandora is the distant planet on which Avatar plays out.
Humans have come to Pandora to mine the most valuable mineral in
the universe. Standing in their way are the N’avi, Pandora’s blue,
10 foot tall, deeply spiritual, indigenous race. To infiltrate the
N’avi, humans create biological Avatars of the N’avi into whom the
consciousness of human beings can be transferred. The Avatars can
then interact with the N’avi, even though the N’avi can easily
detect the difference. One particular human Marine is sent in as an
Avatar and falls in love with a N’avi, ultimately transforming both
himself and the world around him
The spiritual metaphors of Avatar
are truly dazzling. Aren’t all of us humans truly Avatars –
spiritual beings inhabiting human bodies that our consciousness
adopts as a temporary home while our spirits evolve.
The N’avi are a deeply spiritual race, fiercely devoted to family
and their environment, choosing mates for life, and worshiping the
beauty and power of their natural world. “We are all one” is taken
to its highest zenith on Pandora. Not only are the N’avi connected
to each other, but also they have learned a way to bond, both
physically and spiritually, with the magical and glorious creatures
of Pandora. Furthermore, all of nature itself on Pandora is
connected in a very tangible and communicable way, something that
humans encounter in the denouement of the film.
Nothing can prepare you for the
visual and visceral wonder of visiting Pandora in 3D. Fortunately,
the film uses none of the old and cheap 3D tricks of scaring you out
of your seat with arrows or bullets coming straight at you. You just
feel like reaching out and touching the wonders of Pandora. The
genius behind Pandora is
writer/director James Cameron, whose last
film, Titanic, became the highest grossing film in history.
As in Titanic, Cameron gives us a magical love story in
Avatar, tender and fierce, loving and comical, challenging and
engrossing. Cameron has mastered a new 3D technology that literally
catapults us into a new era of film wherein we as viewers truly
inhabit a whole new world. Cameron also created the Terminator
films and, unfortunately, the final confrontation between the N’avi
and the marauding humans is quite violent, as are some earlier
sequences. For that reason, I do want to warn those of you who are
sensitive to onscreen violence that Avatar very well might
be a bridge too far for you. Normally, my wife and I feel the same
way but we were so immersed in the drama and wonder of the story
that we made it through the violent scenes of the film, knowing that
the spirituality and goodness of the N’avi would ultimately rule the
day. (Not to be a spoiler, it does). Still, I would be remiss in not
waving a caution flag about the violence in the film. It’s there and
The violence aside, Avatar has
birthed a new method of movie storytelling. Some day, the technology
of Avatar will be used (sans violence) by filmmakers to
take us much further into the spiritual journey of our souls. Into
the dreams we call illusion and the illusions we call reality. Into
the awe and wonder of this majestic, mysterious, and mystical
adventure that we call life. Into a new world of Spiritual Cinema.
And we will look back and thank James Cameron for bringing this new
vision to us for the first time.
Simon has produced acclaimed projects such as the Academy
Award Winning WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (starring
Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.) , the classic
SOMEWHERE IN TIME (Starring Christopher Reeve and Jane
Seymour), ALL THE RIGHT MOVES (Starring Tom
Cruise) and was an executive producer on fan favorite BILL
AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (starring Keanu Reeves).
As of February 1, 2010, the film
Avatar grossed more money at the box-office
than any other in the entire history of film!
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