I recently did Avatar: The Way of Water seen. The sequel to avatar from 2009 tells the story of the original Na’vi on the planet Pandora who are again attacked by people from Earth, ‘skypeople‘. The Na’vi live from a deep connection with everything on their planet. It goes the’skypeopleHowever, not for this valuable philosophy of life, but for valuable raw materials. The earth is finished and a new one is needed.
This movie touched me deeply, especially beyond the fictional storyline about: how the villages of the original inhabitants of the planet Pandora were set on fire, how forests were destroyed, how they hunted (deeply intelligent) sea creatures for the sake of a substance that stops aging – what do people live for when they leave their planet die and want to colonize a new one to do the exact same thing with it?
Everything revolved around money and was solved with violence, without any respect. It looks so familiar to me. It touched me even more that when the credits came and the room got light and I was looking for some acknowledgment from the original inhabitants of our earth who I think this story is really about, I heard someone say behind me: “Yeah, nice movie. ”
This was not a fun movie. This was not a pretty movie. This wasn’t even a powerful movie – something it could have been in so many ways. This was an animated documentary that tells the history on our Earth as if it were on a distant planet in a distant future.
Horribly painful story
avatar is not a fun movie. This is the horribly painful story of colonialism and capitalism and of what natives everywhere on this earth go through to this day for the sake of money.
At the end of last year I spent a month in a village of the Yawanawa, the original inhabitants of the Brazilian rainforest. I was deep in nature and it was beautiful. With the Yawanawa I have seen and experienced how these people live in balance with nature, how they respect all the life that surrounds them, how they feel a deep connection with everything that lives. And if you’ve been paying attention to avatar then you understand how everything lives according to the philosophy of the original inhabitants.
Also read the review: Visually unparalleled water fun in ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ does not rely on its story
After the first movie in 2009, a phenomenon called “Post Avatar Depression Syndrome” (PADS) emerged. The term describes the shared sentiment shared by thousands of people on the Avatar Forums platform after seeing the film. They longed for the spiritual connection that the Na’vi had on Pandora with all living things, and at the same time worried about the future of our planet.
Pandora is closer than we think, even closer than the Brazilian rainforest
The second part of avatar could have been so powerful in this. The animated images avatar are special and beautiful, but so is our earth. As far as I’m concerned, director James Cameron has missed the mark enormously. There was a story. There could have been a message. That could have been in the movie, but even in the credits would have sufficed. They could have given the names of aboriginal peoples whose culture and habitat are threatened to this day. They could have given an indication of the number of villages set on fire for mines, resources and money. They could have raised awareness, donated proceeds from the movie. They could have supported organizations and initiatives that protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Pandora is Earth
A much-liked comment on TikTok last year was: “How much would I give to live on Pandora”. But do we really care about our own Pandora? Pandora is closer than we think. And I mean even closer than the Brazilian rainforest. There are many communities on our earth that see the world in a similar way to that fictional Na’vi. This film tells a history that is still going on. And the extent to which we recognize that history determines the future of this planet. Pandora is Earth, you just have to learn to see the power and beauty of nature on Earth.
The original inhabitants of colonized countries can teach us a lot about this. The creators of Avatar should have done more with this. It had a massive wake up call could be – and perhaps that was the vision. How nice it would have been if people had come out of the cinema with more than the feeling of having seen a ‘nice movie’.
A version of this article also appeared in the January 13, 2023 newspaper