James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) defined a new era of innovative technology in the realm of film making. The 3-D animation and special effects used to create the environment of Pandora not only bring the universe to life on screen, but also the technology helps to compare Pandora to our world today.
Cameron, who began writing the screenplay for the film in 1994 with a planned release date in 1999, decided that the necessary and best technology for the film hadn’t quite been made available yet. Finally, in 2006, Cameron used motion-capture techniques, which included body suits for the actors that allowed for them to become the “avatars” and 3-D imaging which interacted with the reality. The cutting-edge usage of technology set Cameron and his film apart from previous films because the use of animation and technology created a reality for his film which was different, yet similar to our reality.
Pandora, which is the fictional universe of Cameron’s film, is the home to the Na’vi. These native creatures, played by real actors wearing body suits, were created to look like tall, blue creatures with human qualities. The plants, creatures, and natural surroundings in Pandora are unique to the planet. The shapes and contortions of the plants remind the viewer of plants here on earth. Also, some of the creatures on Pandora may look odd, but they definitely look and act like some of the animals we have.
It is interesting that Cameron uses Pandora as an analogy to our world today. Although the environment looks completely different than ours, Cameron’s use of imaging and animation bring to life the world of Pandora, making the viewer fall in love with the images. The viewer gets transported into the 3-D world and begins to relate the world of Pandora with reality. The Na’vi’s humanistic features make them emotionally likeable characters, which the viewer quickly becomes attached to. The plants, animals, and environment of Pandora, because the Na’vi are so connected with them, also become an emotional attachment to the viewer. The beautiful imagery of the floating islands and the home tree of the natives give the viewer an attachment to the beauty of Pandora, and also a beauty towards the film in general. This epic film will forever be remembered for its stunning imagery and connection of fiction to reality that Cameron instills in his viewers.
According to Christian Diehm’s Identification with Nature, our lives as human beings is shaped and defined by our natures. At first, I was skeptical as to what he was saying, because I have lived in the same home for over 18 years and have developed my own personality that is completely different than my rural country/redneck town. However, in the article, Diehm further explains that nature doesn’t necessarily mean the physical environment that one can see. He says that people identify themselves by a “sense of commonality” (3). So, does this mean that I identify myself by having commonalities with nature? Yes and no. Diehm does say that “to identify personally with nature is to develop a sense of connectedness to entities in the local natural community with which we have had personal contact” (6), but there is so much more that defines a so-called ‘local natural community’. These communities, as the article states, are relationships and connections that we have with others in certain environments. Therefore, we become identified with the people we associate ourselves with just as much as being defined by the places we go to. If this is the case, then I should defined as a peppy, spontaneous Target addict…which I have no shame in admitting! What would be your identification?
In chapter 8 of Hull’s Infinite Nature, the section called “Pricing a Life” disturbed me. Are we really being degraded to mere means of economic profit? Hull explains that in our world today, there are methods to deciphering the value of a person’s life, which includes being able to “equate the value of a life to the earnings of a lifetime – you are what you earn” (114). If I were to die now, with my part-time, minimum wage job, I would be considered “worthless” (or average) in today’s society. Is this fair? I can see that companies and businesses would use this model; it’s their job to gain profit to stay in business. However, demeaning a person to these methods is immoral to me. We are worth more than the dollar bill.
When reading “Self-Realization” by Arne Naess I thought it was interesting when he was talking about the people in his home country of Norway who were moved from their locations along the arctic coast and moved into the “centers of development.” He mentions that these people realized, after being moved, that they were not the same as they used to be: part of their identity was taken away with the change of environment.
I can understand where these people are coming from. Normally when people refer to their home, it is not just the physical house that they are living in that they are referring to. Home is the entire area that the person lives in, which includes the nature in the area. For instance, my home here in Wichita includes the openness and tranquility that the large fields surrounding my neighborhood provide. My home includes the horses in the horse stables that are at the front of my neighborhood. If I were to come home one day and all of the fields were dug up to build new neighborhoods or the horses were all moved to a different stable, home would not seem the same. Part of who I have become by living in my home would be missing. Although I’ve never actually taken the time to conciously think about it this way before reading this, subconsciously I have been thinking this all along.