Avatar (2009).

D/W: James Cameron. DP: Mauro Fiore. Starring: Sam Worthington/Zoe Saldana/Sigourney Weaver/Stephen Lang/Giovanni Ribisi/Michelle Rodriquez/Joel Moore/CCH Pounder/Laz Alonso/Wes Studi/Dileep Rao.

20th Century Fox and James Cameron have re-released the notorious Avatar early this fall. Although an obvious play to beef up DVD sales and swindle more money from movie goers, the situation actually offers a unique opportunity. Not only is there the opportunity for new audiences to see the film, but also for those who have seen Avatar to see it again. And see it in the 3D experience the film was built for.

Back in December of last year, Avatar premiered amist astonishing hype and literally broke records economically, visually, and three dimensionally. Hording the project for years until technology had caught up with him, writer, director, editor and producer Cameron finally debuted his first feature film since 1997’s ginormous Titanic. Not only did Avatar sparke debate about its somewhat simple storyline, tremendous use of 3D and motion capture, but it also sent ripples through the Academy community. Was and is this film worthy of an Oscar? How do we even measure it? Does the film even belong?

Yet putting aside all that happened in December and sitting down to watch the film again, audiences will be still be struck by Avatar the second time around. Firstly, the film is not as tiring as you know how long it is and can relax as you (if you never fell asleep AHEM) know how the story ends. The script still feels simple, especially the scenes when Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully is on the human base. The military and business characters seem startlingly one dimensional. However, what is lacking in those sequences you gain in every frame with the Na’vi.  Worthington’s interactions with the Na’vi community and Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri seem all the more complex and symbolic than before.

The visuals of Avatar still remain luscious and inspiring on a second viewing, yet once you are able to relax into the film the world of Pandora seems to be mysteriously 3D and accentuated. Rather than it merely being a cinematic trick. Cameron deserves every praise for his ability to seamlessly incorporate 3D into his film and use it to the story’s advantage. A story whose focus I still believe to not be on the individual character’s journey, but rather on two groups of peoples whose values differ so strongly that their journeys collide. In other words, although Worthington and Saldana progress and evolve in the course of the story, the issues they unearth between each other is more important as it symbolizes the groups they represent.

Ultimately, for me, the themes of Avatar remain in tact on a second viewing. Transgression, homeland, extortion, and community all come out of the film’s narrative. A narrative that is able to illustrate to audiences the necessity of human connection and compassion. A narrative that reinforces the theory (and fact in my opinion) of the disconnect between modern human life and the planet that fuels and energizes these lives. Whether or not you read it as a pro-environmentalist approach, it cannot be ignored that the film smartly captivates you into this theory. Cameron builds the emotional and physical connections between characters to exemplify this disconnect between the humans and the planet.

So if you have not seen Avatar see it. If you have then see it again and see what it brings up in you. Because if anything you can still see it in its true form, one that no home entertainment system will ever be able to match.

4 thoughts on “Return to Pandora for a Second Time”

  1. I agree, the themes cannot be ignored, however, I think Cameron ultimately succeeds because he tells classical stories with great heroes and villains. 3D TVs will catch up at some point but they haven’t yet, so its definitely worth seeing in the theaters again.

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