The Way of Avatar: Symbology and Spirituality

The symbology in Avatar and the environmental theme is the basis of James Cameron’s writing: let’s see how.

When the movie was released in 2009 Avatars one of the jokes that was most popular was “a film visually well done, but with the plot of Pocahontas”. How many times have we heard this joke? And how many times has it been resurrected now that we’re about to face the second chapter? The message that the film of James Cameron it gives to the entire world population, it is the power of cinema of a certain type to reach all the populations of the world, it is a powerful message of death and resurrection expressed in a thousand different ways.

The environmentalism of Avatar

I don’t know who I am anymore. That is real life (among the Na’vi) and this is the dream (human life). It’s all upside down

James Cameron and Sam Worthington on the set of Avatar

James Cameron and Sam Worthington on the set of Avatar

This is probably one of the jokes that captures the transformative travail and inner revelation of the human protagonist well Jack Sully and anyone who discovers the illusory lie of the world of Pandora. One must dream to be an Avatar, and it is important that the Na’vi identify “those who come from heaven” as dream people. Because those who don’t dream will never reach the coveted goals, mainly the spiritual ones, because the divine archetypes need the dream to be able to act in us. This concept alone contains much more than what was found in the classic “pocahontas gimmick”, but the world created by James Cameron has given universal messages also with regard to fight against climate change, in fact more than ten years ago various social actions were identified with the image of the Na’vi. In those years the film shot by James Cameron had a global success and in a short time Avatar became the symbol of protests all over the world. Near Ramallah in Palestine, many citizens and pacifists dressed as Na’vi to protest against the wall erected by the Israelis.

Like the Avatar fighters, we Palestinians also defend ourselves against imperialism every day

One of the first images from the film Avatar, directed by James Cameron

One of the first images from the film Avatar, directed by James Cameron

This is the response of the promoters of the initiative to the magazine times. A similar choice was made by a group of London demonstrators from the NGO “Survival International”, who marched through the center of the English capital dressed like the Na’vi to protest against the British mining giant Vedanta which was preparing to dig in the Niyamgiri hills (India), in a place that local communities have always considered sacred. But the action didn’t stop only at the “parade” as the organization published in the famous cinema magazine variety an appeal to the director by appealing to the common cause. It was precisely the activism of the NGO that brought it to general attention, finding supporters all over the world, with the result that the Indian Ministry of the Environment decreed a halt to the multinational’s projects. But it didn’t end there, as the environmental issue in 2010 (and even after) he returned to the marches against global warming organized in Washington with several “blue hominids” at the head of the demonstration. Several Na’vi took to the streets of Lima (Peru) during a demonstration by amateur cyclists to ask for more bike paths in the country, as well as in central Jakarta (Indonesia) against plans to replace forests with oil palm plantations, a sector in which the Asian country holds the world record. In Manila, the members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, with a parade in Na’vi costume through the streets of the city centre, drew worldwide attention against the privatization projects of the local water networks: in short, as in recent years the mask of V for Vendetta and the costumes of the Paper House they became symbols of political resistance, thus the Na’vi became symbols of climate rebellion. When a film becomes a symbol for different minds it means that the intent of its message has reached beyond the simple viewing at the cinema. And so it was for Avatars.

James Cameron’s Avatar returns to the cinema: only Pocahontas in space or a revolutionary sci-fi work?

Symbol of all indigenous peoples

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Avatar: The Way of Water, an image

The parallelism with Native American peoples is total on the first chapter of Avatars, a people who fight within the forest with bow and arrow and who live in full harmony with the spirituality of the Earth. But this has certainly not stopped the other populations (non-native Americans) who reflected themselves in the soul of the Na’vi in ​​all its facets. The native blogger Mindanaoan’s Narratives see Avatars how “an activist’s cinematic dream” and draws parallels with the problems of home in the Philippines: the film can also be interpreted as a reflection of the struggle of indigenous peoples and rural communities in the hinterland of Mindanao. Mineral extraction and other “development projects” are connected with militarization and the violation of human rights, which pits native against native.

The Way of Avatar: Archery like the Na’Vi

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Avatar 2: One of the first official concept art of James Cameron’s film

The People of Pandora, lives in symbiosis with it and is able to perceive and come into contact with every animal and plant form: this axiom is the profound meaning from which the story develops, a meaning that goes in search of the true purpose of the human being, perhaps, a simple “keeper” of the land and not a usurper. This connection between the Na’vi and the earth is the spiritual archetype in this film, which has managed to put into shape something that we had probably only read about in the great sagas of ancient mythology. The presence of a mother divinity in which a people recognizes itself in full respect and adoration is probably a universal message, more than one might believe. It is not a question of a dream, but of a reality placed on a higher plane that is calling its children, a reality that wants to remind all the peoples of the earth that the connection with the world of nature is not just something that is on the books and stories of the great elders of indigenous peoples. And the topos who speaks through the minds of creatives, of those who listen to mother earth and in this he speaks through cinema, announcing something that sooner or later will have to happen. To return to the last concept that animates James Cameron’s story, the connection and sharing of information between the various creatures is undoubtedly one of the acquisitions of modern quantum physics which considers this lattice as an interconnection system between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.

An image of Jake Sully's avatar on Pandora in the movie Avatar

An image of Jake Sully’s avatar on Pandora in the movie Avatar

It is no coincidence that at the head of the Na’vi we find a shaman who represents the one who travels along this network, up to the source of the information, to return enriched with what is needed for him to carry out his task. The center of Pandora’s divine network is an ancient tree, huge and gnarled, which represents the epicenter of the Na’vi, an extension of their lifeblood, a place of regeneration and knowledge. This “Tree of Souls” is located in the center of Pandora’s most powerful magnetic field, the “Vortex of Streams”. Obviously this concept exasperates and reshapes everything behind the spirituality of native peoples, but with a main focus: we are destined to go back to our origins and the more we devastate the land we live in, the more that land will give us strong signals of not sharing . Here’s the big one environmental symbology of James Cameron’s masterpiece also waiting to “dive” into another theme that is just as fundamental for the native peoples of planet Earth as water.

Avatar: The Water Way, our trailer commentary: an emotional connection as clear as the ocean

The Way of Avatar: Symbology and Spirituality