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December 30, 2009

It pretty much sucked.  Some neato technology there that will probably be used in the future to make good movies (by other directors).   But the “white guy finds noble savages, goes native, and poof! becomes their new leader” plotline has been worn pretty thin.

And 3d sucks too, i might add.  to me it makes the digital layers seem more digital.  beowulf had the same problem.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. A. Strung permalink*
    December 31, 2009 6:45 pm

    No, tell us what you really think!

  2. A. Strung permalink*
    January 3, 2010 5:05 pm

    What are some other movies that employ that basic narrative outline? Dances With Wolves I guess. I don’t remember if he becomes their leader though.

  3. Mutterskopf permalink
    January 4, 2010 3:53 pm

    here’s a quote from a 30 second google search on “white man goes native and leads noble savages”

    (which immediately led to a bunch of articles on avatar)

    AVATAR’s plot is pretty perfunctory and is often compared to films like DANCES WITH WOLVES, THE LAST SAMURAI and THE NEW WORLD. Critics argue that these films exemplify white liberal guilt of past colonial crimes, or as io9 succinctly writes: “This is a classic scenario you’ve seen in non-scifi epics from Dances With Wolves to The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member.”

  4. Mutterskopf permalink
    January 4, 2010 4:07 pm

    Here’s another nice quote. This one is good because it addresses the other annoying cliches featured in this film (evil white man cliche, and morally pure noble savages):

    “Well, I agree that the tropes in this movie is overplayed. I get tired of both the “white rapist of all that is good and natural trope” and the “individual white who somehow becomes enlightened and repents, saving the ‘noble savage’ from the evil white people’ trope. Not to mention the “noble savage living in perfect harmony with each other and nature until the evil white man comes along” trope.”

    back to mutterskopf speaking-
    actually the “morally pure noble savages” cliche is one of the worst; after i saw this movie with my in-laws, my mother-in-law (an intelligent woman) said something to the effect of “wouldn’t it be nice if life were like the life of the navi, i.e. non-violent.” now considering the fact that the navi are “warriors,” isn’t it odd that they somehow come across as simultaneously also being pure and non-violent? but such is the power of that cliche i guess…

  5. la mama permalink
    January 4, 2010 8:15 pm

    Yeah, those cliches … Tarzan is a another example, but HIS little group of noble savages were real apes! Speaking of apes and that same cliche, ya got “Planet of the Apes.”

  6. A. Strung permalink*
    January 5, 2010 11:53 am

    I’m going to see Avatar tonight so I can’t comment on it too directly. But I will say that at least in the Last Samurai, TC doesn’t become the most awesome member. I think it’s the acceptance that’s most important though, as far as assuaging guilt; becoming the MAM is a bonus. I wouldn’t be too quick to embrace the idea that it’s liberal guilt driving this – I think moreso it’s just a largely ignorance-based fetishizing of a type of culture, with a lot of projection, or dare I say reverse-projection: the filmmakers and audience project what they believe they are lacking onto the other society.

    In the case of Avatar this is even more overt as the society in question is fantastical and the guy almost literally becomes one. There’s no guilt there obviously because those blue people don’t exist but the fantasy of possessing a fetishized “primitive” power is still apparently potent.

  7. A. Strung permalink*
    January 5, 2010 5:48 pm

    I didn’t get to go. My date canceled.

  8. Mutterskopf permalink
    January 5, 2010 5:55 pm

    Oh shit, now you won’t be inspired to go learn the languages of robins and crickets and such… maybe next week

  9. A. Strung permalink*
    January 5, 2010 6:50 pm

    But do you see what I’m saying?

  10. Mutterskopf permalink
    January 6, 2010 1:57 pm

    oh for sure yes, i meant what i was saying to be a tacit endorsement of what you said about the fetishized fantasy, like the notion of (re)learning lost ancient powers from the noble savages, such as communing with animals and such (featured very literally in avatar).

    but as far as the idea that there is no guilt there, well, the navi seem to be modeled off generic north american native american archetypes, so even though they are fantastical i think that guilt can still be at play here…

    dune has some of these themes too, of journeying from an anglo-style culture into a more primitive one and then becoming the leader of those folks, but somehow with Dune it is cool instead of offensive… maybe it’s all in the execution. or maybe i just like dune better because i read it when i was 18.

    • A. Strung permalink*
      January 7, 2010 12:58 pm

      No I mean, in some sense it’s a legitimate dynamic. The question of what is gained or lost becoming an “advanced” society is worth discussing. Now is it worth discussing in an action movie milieu wherein all such concerns become *ahem* very two dimensional in the name of easy emotional payoff? Probably not, but it goes to show there is a nerve there to be struck. And it does depend on if the movie is excellently action-packed too. So – still not having seen it – Avatar is probably more forgivable for abusing that narrative arc than a “drama”, because it’s really just there to hang a bunch of action set pieces on.

  11. Mutterskopf permalink
    January 7, 2010 6:32 pm

    well that’s fair, maybe as it’s an action flick i should just relax about plot and such…

    i think that to be totally honest, when i watched it i was probably affected by all the rave reviews i had already heard; perhaps i was consumed by the feeling of “this does not merit all this praise” and got stuck on that rather than fairly evaluating avatar for what it is

  12. tiefighter25 permalink
    January 8, 2010 10:27 pm

    Over and over again, (smell of repetition):

    Don’t forget Irish born Dick Willy, no that wasn’t his name, Cock Nads, no, fuck what was his name? Rod Knob. No wait, Peter O’Toole, Lord Jim,

    and Lawrence of Arabia:

    oh but you wanted sci-fi:

    or perhaps an update?

    and they’ll make it again.

    most importantly:

  13. tiefighter25 permalink
    January 8, 2010 10:41 pm

  14. A. Strung permalink*
    January 9, 2010 11:20 am

    Lawrence of Arabia kicks all sorts of ass.

    Hey they’re making ANOTHER Dune, a movie again. Great book, I don’t see why they can’t make a great movie or TV show or WHATEVER, apologies to David Lynch.

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