Anthropological Themes in Avatar

December 6, 2017 Anthropology

This film, even though it is a fantasy, contains so many scenarios that can apply to modern or past societies. The story revolves around Jake Sculls in his Journey as an anthropologist/ body guard in the world of Pandora, and how he experiences first hand a lot of the anthropology themes and terms we have discussed in class. The story starts off in 2154 when humans have depleted the Earth from its natural resources.

A company called the RADAR mines for a valuable mineral that powers equipment and has several other uses found a planet containing a large amount of this mineral. This planet is named Pandora. Pandora is a densely forested planet habited by several creatures, most importantly by the Naive, 10-foot tall, blue-skinned, sapient humanoids who live in harmony with nature and worship the planet itself. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the existence of the Nava culture and land, and this is what the whole movie is about. The most prevalent anthropological themes and ideas found in the film AVATAR are globalization and spirituality.

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The most prevalent theme in the film is globalization. This connection between AVATAR and anthropology can be found from the very beginning. The humans in the movie leave earth and travel to Pandora to mine the planet Just as the pilgrims and other settlers left Europe to go to the Americas in search of new homes and other matter. Humans bring to Pandora their traditions and values and to them the natives are different and demure. In our somewhat similar history; globalization led European ideals, and later US ideals, to be imposed on the native cultures with little Edgar for the local people and their customs.

You see this in Avatar with the humans trying to force their will on the Naive and how they don’t care about the existence of a real Mother Nature, the power of their magical forest, and how what they are doing is going to destroy the Nava home/God/place of worship. In our class we talked about the people in Cambodia and how they face a similar dilemma with the farming companies coming into their land and cutting down the trees in their sacred forest. To me that discussion in class was the biggest correlation between AVATAR and anthropology.

Spirituality is the next big thing. In the film the native Nava worship the forest and connect with nature itself. We talked about this in class where many native tribes connect to the land and worship it because of all that it gives them. I think the Nava are much more like Buddhists in many ways. Both the Nava and Buddhists believe that all beings are united, that we are all a part of each other. Our own ego is damaging to our happiness because if we embrace our ego, we might hurt others, and if we are all united, then we will in fact be hurting ourselves.

Just as the Nava say hat if we hurt the environment or hurt the animals we hurt ourselves and the delicate balance existing between the whole CEO-system. Buddhists also believe in compassion Just as the Nava showed compassion to the people letting them leave after they were defeated and stopped in their attempts to take over the planet. The film itself was a great one. It showed the dark side of humans and our nature and tendency to do this sort of things over and over through history and in the films setting. Globalization and spirituality were the most prolific anthropological themes in the movie that we discussed in class.

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