Canadian born James Cameron, has certainly outdone himself in his production of Avatar with all of its technical prowess. Cameron’s visual presentation largely compensates for his lack of unique content. His story line is nothing more than part and parcel of the incessant drumbeat we have come to expect from Hollywood: a constant denial of Catholic doctrine and a bizarre Gnostic and egalitarian solution to today’s problems.
One might ask, what is in a name, why did Cameron choose Avatar? The word refers to the incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu in human form, the preserver god of the Hindu sacred triad. Today it is commonly understood as a virtual alter ego. So this begs the question, just what is Cameron trying to teach us?
The movie imagines the Na’vi tribe from the planet Pandora who is extra-terrestrial, eco-pantheistic and lives in a supposed perfect harmony with nature. They are aggressed by greedy businessmen who are supported by the Marines in an attempt to expropriate the poor natives of their lands and wealth. Sounds like a technicolor version of the evils of Western expansionism taught in every grade school across America. Man decayed when he started walking on his hind legs.
The plot narrates an attempted mission from Earth to dig a mine that would produce a highly valuable ore, but for this end they would have to expel the local inhabitants, who are seven-foot tall humanoids with tails and a long braid of hair. Ironically, they look very similar to the myriad illustrations of devils we have seen for centuries in Catholic tradition.
This exploitation of Pandora is because man has depleted the Earth of all of its resources. The intent to mine a valuable ore from another planet will destroy the purity of their culture that is in perfect commune with nature. This message is not subliminal: it is clear and in your face. Man and everything he does is bad, and nature and extra-terrestrials are good.
There are various failed attempts by the humans to co-opt the inhabitants and convince them to leave their village that is installed in a huge tree, under which is found the deposit of this valuable ore. The humans then produce some humanoid bodies in a laboratory, to which they periodically transfer a human spirit from a few volunteers in order to infiltrate the locals. During the night when the humanoid spies are asleep, the scientists bring back the human spirits through a machine to their respective bodies and retrieve the information obtained. The migration of man’s soul into the humanoids takes place through the power of one of the trees. Is this not like the Druids?
During this time, some of these humanoid volunteers befriend the locals, end up rebelling against the attempt to dominate them and fight on their side against the humans. Cameron manages to introduce a romance for an additional sentimental appeal. The hero of the plot ends up by falling in love with a Na’vi humanoid and becoming her mate. Throughout the movie, there are explicit scenes of pantheism in which the natives communicate with animals and plants through their hair. In the end, the humanoids defeat and expel the humans through the aid of animals, despite the human’s sophisticated weapons. The hero finally gives up his human nature definitively to live as a Na’vi humanoid.
While dazzling the audience with a purely secondary aspect, its technical presentation, the movie attempts to evoke an emotional sympathy for the eco-pantheistic Na’vi tribe and a dislike for the imperialistic aggressors in a convoluted plot by showing only one side of what to the world is today. This bizarre illusion Cameron presents, is the movie’s main theme; Pandora is the perfect world toward which we must progress. The basic message denies any idea of creation, original sin, redemption, the sacraments, grace, judgment, heaven or hell. One legitimately asks if the Na’vi tribe is part of creation, did they participate in original sin, were they redeemed by Our Lord Jesus Christ, will they go to heaven or hell? Perhaps Cameron’s strange idea is nothing more than a modern rendition of the Communist mantra; imagine no heaven, no hell, just nature and man, and when we die, it all ends.
It is no wonder many are leaving the theater after watching this bizarre fiction tempted to depression, suicide and the loss of faith as made explicit in the article in the Daily Mail. The Avatar effect: Movie-goers feel depressed and even suicidal at not being able to visit utopian alien planet. When the sacred truth is not professed and practiced, abundant errors flood in to fill the void. While the world proclaims the great success of Avatar, we ask; “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” But for Avatar?