The science fiction film Avatar was released in 2009, and has only recently been dethroned as the ‘biggest movie of all time’ by Avengers Endgame.
Avatar was produced in the United States, which does not end up as westernised as it sounds. The film is set in the mid-22nd century when humans are colonising Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system, in order to mine minerals.
The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi – a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. In order to interact with the native individuals, a genetically engineered Na’vi body operated from the brain of a remotely located human is used.
The movie has absolutely amazing visuals and software development, using the best technology available at the time. Despite it being visually pleasing and incredibly detailed, it also discusses the themes and consequences of an apocalyptic era. It hits on ecological imperialism, which isn’t as complex as it sounds. Essentially, the film shows the effects invasion of a native land can have on the ecology of the land and the culture of the inhibitors, as well as the possible exploitation of both (A. C. N., 2018).
Avatar also showcases a subtle romance plot, action and the dystopian nature of science fiction. It hits a majority of genres that are universally understood across the globe, enabling the flow across audiences. It shows no distinct cultural proximities which aids its success, however it does still borrow from other cultures despite being an American pioneered film, there are subtle Hindu references in mainstream North American media.
The film manages to make such a comment in a way that is not as confronting for those who are ignorant to the history of western countries, through cultural hybridisation and even possibly cultural homogenisation. It pulls cultural factors from those culturally imperialistic, and who often engage in the attempt of homogenisation, and cultural factors from lands that had colonised natives, and spins it into a mashup that is not identifiable to any sole culture. The cultural hybridisation makes it appear as a totally fictional world that is not directly represented in one country.
I think I found it to be the most impactful when I kept in mind that although it is a made up science fiction film, but it is still a very real possibility for the way the world is headed. Globalisation combines political, economic, and cultural factors to show the progression toward industrialization, capitalism, modernity and urbanization, and Avatar hits all of those points in both an apparent and subtle way (C. Manning, etl. 2010).
CAITLIN MANNING & JULIE SHACKFORD-BRADLEY 2010, ‘Global Subjects in Motion: Strategies for Representing Globalization in Film’, Journal of Film and Video, vol. 62, no. 3, p. 36,
C. N., A 2018, ‘Nature Versus Culture: Mapping Imperialistic Alternatives in The Martian Chronicles and Avatar’, Language in India, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 33–43
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