Avatar 3D (2009)
After Arthur And The Minimoys, now comes Jake And The Megamoys. Na’vi, that is, to be precise.
Next to correspondence in shape and bodysize, i wish the sequence were also on other behalf more like Swift’s “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver”. While that book presented itself as a simple traveller’s narrative with a disingenuous title, it rendered a Menippean Satire in four parts about, by then modern, society and human nature. Next to this, the reader gets the proof, that satire is neither conflicting with SciFi nor good literature.
In Avatar, a paraplegic war veteran Jake, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na’vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. He meets the right way of living, misses it and then sets out for a quest to find it again and save it. Sounds familiar? No wonder
In Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, Perceval, a young guy, virgin and ignorant to the ways of men until the age of 15, meets a crippled Fisher King and sees a grail, not yet identified as “holy”, but he fails to ask a question that would have healed the injured king. Upon learning of his mistake he vows to find the Grail castle again and fulfill his quest but Chretien’s story breaks off soon after, to be continued in a number of different ways by various authors afterwards.
So the plot, known from a medieval bestseller, is knitted into the weaving of Swift’s 18th century block buster, not sparing any stereotype successful in history, from biblical Armaggedon, over eighteenth century sentimentalist “noble savage”, to Westerns .
And while the movie does depict the devastating consequences of material greed, gone wild, it seems to suggest totemistic religiousness as the way out of it. So, people in Afghanistan, perceived as “humanoids” at best, in their cultural alienness, being in the way of hegemonic oil and gas interests, are reconnecting themselves with their nature and send American troups home after deafeat? This naive play with stereotypes does even backfire, however noble its original intentions might be: it promotes a new tribalisation and thus yields a religious justification to the conflicts arrising from globalization worldwide. But this world is not functioning on totemistic idols anymore. Nowadays human rights are remorselessly sacrificed by megalomaniacal fantasies of transnational corporation leaders about an omnipotent international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, and the spread of technology. And it is the same human rights in Khabul or Washington, that are at stake.
Rather than adding a third optical dimension, the movie would have deserved a third dimension in depth, if it pretends itself to more than a kiddie’s story. “It wouldn’t be fair to slap the “all style, no substance” label on James Cameron’s latest sci-fi epic, but it’s certainly tempting”, says Jamey Codding. It certainly is. Nonetheless, the movie looks spectacular in 3D. For a pity, the impressive computer graphic realisations are soaked in a pompous melodramatic sound carpet that sounds like Wagner on Glühwein. Some music would not have done any harm.
Alas, if it did not turn out well this time, there are still Part III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrig, Luggnagg, and Japan and Part IV: A Voyage to Houyhnhnms to try again…