Avatar

Some films evoke different emotions for diverse groups and Avatar is not only one of the more groundbreaking films ever, but one of the more thought provoking.

For some, Avatar is a movie about the fight for survival, hope and the redeeming quality of love. For others, it is a marked commentary on their social systems, racial profiling or the continued ravages perpetrated on the planet. It holds up a mirror to a society that holds economic development and financial profits as more important than nature and human life.

In the year 2154, a large multi-planetary corporation is hunting a rare mineral called unobtanium on an earth-like moon called Pandora. The indigenous population, the Naívi is threatened by extinction. A paraplegic marine dispatched to Pandora to secure the unobtanium becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he comes to consider his home.

The storyline may not be new, harking back to films like Dancing with Wolves, but James Cameron, the director conceptualized a social statement touching on everything from deforestation to capitalism.

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The surprising twist to the reception of the movie makes it stand out as a commentary on life in the 21st century. Some reviewers found the film to be profoundly racist with the protagonist taking the part of the white man who single-handedly saves the planet and the second-rate natives who were unable to save themselves. This stirred a heated debate on the undercurrent of racism in American society today in reviews and the blogosphere.

Still others believe that Stephen Lang definitely played a racist in the movie, but, in the end, the redeeming message of the film was one of anti-racism and an antagonistic perception of corporate greed coupled with allusions to the war on terrorism and U.S. terrorist policies.

The Vatican released a statement condemning the movie as a propagation of pantheism over Christianity since the characters clearly worship nature above all else.

Even the Chinese government felt the slings of arrows and condemned the film as a thinly veiled criticism of its human rights issues and allowed the movie to only be shown in the few 3D theaters in China.

However, on the technological side, Avatar was ground-breaking with the kinesiology of movement captured with a mix of infrared cameras, computer software and reflective body markers. The technology may prove useful in both athletic endeavors and rehabilitation for victims of strokes and injuries. What started out as a biomechanical tool morphed into an advanced form of cinematography resulting in a more advanced medical analysis of the human body and how it works in medical treatments.

Perhaps in the long run, what Avatar has to offer is the old adage that the ends donít justify the means. When principles are compromised, the dignity of the individual, the solidarity of family life and the respect of social and moral issues are trampled on by those who seek only to find a pot of gold no matter where it is or who it hurts.

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