Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review - Avatar - Archetypes and the Hero's Journey

Avatar is a movie directed and written by James Cameron, released in 2009. It is a highly fantasy and science-fiction production, which takes the audience to a completely new world, a planet called Pandora, which seems to be a new wellhead of resources for humans from Earth. 

In the early state the movie introduces Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic former marine who’s come to Pandora to replace his tragically murdered brother. The goal of his mission is to become a bodyguard for a head of Avatar Operation – Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), and her assisting scientist Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore). 

Still 1.
The Mother Nature of Pandora
shows her acceptance
At this point the viewer might state that Jake Sully is slowly becoming the unwilling hero archetype. He doesn’t want to replace his brother as he is still overwhelmed by personal trauma and pain, although there is nothing that he can do except for accepting the offer. 

Everything changes during one of the missions, when Jake’s avatar – artificially created Pandora’s inhabitant – gets attacked and separated from Dr.Grace and Norm Spellman. Fortunately, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a female Na’vi, rescues Jake and decides to take him to her clan. She is ordered to initiate Jake into the Na’vi society. This is where his destiny changes and from unwilling hero he becomes a destined one. The more time he spends with Neytiri and other Na’vi the more he understands that living as a human being is not something that he wants anymore. 

Following Chris Vogler’s ‘The hero’s journey outline’, the audience is introduced to the ordinary world of Jake Sully, his disability, a mission that he has to accomplish and trauma after losing his brother.  The call to adventure is simply him being forced to take part in the Avatar Operation, and because of the reluctance factor, the refusal of the call appears. Meeting the mentor could be considered to
Still 2.
Jake Sully after seizing Toruk
happen in two worlds. In the world of humans, Jake’s mentor would be Dr. Grace Augustine, who supports him and shows the way of using avatars. In the Na’vi world – Neytiri, as she teaches Jake how to become a part of Na’vi society. The moment of crossing the threshold is the moment of Jake being accepted by people of Pandora and it is also the tests, allies and enemies stage, as he’s being put forth trials and difficult lessons. Jake realizes that he doesn’t want to be on the side of humans anymore as their only goal is to destroy Pandora and steal everything valuable that they can find. The moment of approach is, when Sully destroys one of the cameras on earth machine as a statement of him choosing side of the Na’vi. 

The crucial moment is the ordeal, death and rebirth when Neytiri realizes Jake has been working for humans for the whole time, giving them information about Na’vi villages and people. He is being excluded from the society, although the battle has already begun. By seizing Toruk, a dragon-like creature honoured by the Na’vi, Jake’s going through rebirth stage. He leads the warriors against humans and eventually Pandora’s safe, humans expelled to the Earth. 

Still 3.
Jake becomes a permanent member of the Na'vi
There is no road back home for Jake Sully, as he decides to stay on Pandora and, with help of Eywa, the Mother Nature of the planet, he becomes one of the Na’vi. 

The movie Avatar is a hero journey type of production, which also introduces a really vivid image of archetypes of heros and villains. The audience can exactly state which characters are on the side of peace and which seek confrontation and hatred. The colourful and fantasy world convinced many people in the world, making Avatar a box office breaker and a highest-grossing film. The words of wisdom which flow from that delightful production are making the viewer stop for a moment and think about the Earth and Mother Nature.

1. Stills:
* Still 1, online source: http://lanasheablog.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/avatar/
* Still 2, online source: http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/File:Toruk_makto.jpeg
* Still 3, online source: http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Jake_Sully

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