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COSMIC BOOK REVIEW
from the February 2010 Star Beacon
Stephen Simon of Spiritual Cinema
Circle reviews James Cameron's AVATAR
films literally change the face of the art form itself and are
rare indeed. The Great Train Robbery, the first big hit
silent film; The Jazz Singer, the first talking film;
The Wizard of Oz, the first huge family film; Jaws, the
first summer blockbuster; Star Wars, the first science
fiction epic of the new technology era; and now Avatar.
is simply unlike any other film ever made. The experience of
Avatar in 3D is a glimpse into the potential of film to literally
immerse the viewer in the story. We actually materialize in the
onscreen world. Even more amazingly, the spirituality of the story
of Avatar is on a par with its technology. We truly aren’t in
Kansas anymore, Toto. We’re on Pandora.
is the distant planet on which Avatar plays out. Humans have come
to Pandora to mine the most valuable mineral in the universe.
Standing in their way are the N’avi, Pandora’s blue, 10-foot tall,
deeply spiritual, indigenous race. To infiltrate the N’avi, humans
create biological Avatars of the N’avi into whom the consciousness
of human beings can be transferred. The Avatars can then interact
with the N’avi, even though the N’avi can easily detect the
difference. One particular human Marine is sent in as an Avatar
and falls in love with a N’avi, ultimately transforming both
himself and the world around him.
spiritual metaphors of Avatar are truly dazzling. Aren’t
all of us humans truly Avatars — spiritual beings inhabiting human
bodies that our consciousness adopts as a temporary home while our
The N’avi are a deeply spiritual race, fiercely devoted to family
and their environment, choosing mates for life, and worshiping the
beauty and power of their natural world. “We are all one” is taken
to its highest zenith on Pandora. Not only are the N’avi connected
to each other, but also they have learned a way to bond, both
physically and spiritually, with the magical and glorious
creatures of Pandora. Furthermore, all of nature itself on Pandora
is connected in a very tangible and communicable way, something
that humans encounter in the denouement of the film.
can prepare you for the visual and visceral wonder of visiting
Pandora in 3D. Fortunately, the film uses none of the old and
cheap 3D tricks of scaring you out of your seat with arrows or
bullets coming straight at you. You just feel like reaching out
and touching the wonders of Pandora.
The genius behind Pandora is writer/director James Cameron, whose
last film, Titanic, became the highest grossing film in
history. As in Titanic, Cameron gives us a magical love
story in Avatar, tender and fierce, loving and comical,
challenging and engrossing. Cameron has mastered a new 3D
technology that literally catapults us into a new era of film
wherein we as viewers truly inhabit a whole new world.
also created the Terminator films and, unfortunately, the
final confrontation between the N’avi and the marauding humans is
quite violent, as are some earlier sequences. For that reason, I
do want to warn those of you who are sensitive to onscreen
violence that Avatar very well might be a bridge too far
for you. Normally, my wife and I feel the same way, but we were so
immersed in the drama and wonder of the story that we made it
through the violent scenes of the film, knowing that the
spirituality and goodness of the N’avi would ultimately rule the
day. (Not to be a spoiler, it does). Still, I would be remiss in
not waving a caution flag about the violence in the film. It’s
there and it’s significant.
violence aside, Avatar has birthed a new method of movie
storytelling. Some day, the technology of Avatar will be
used (sans violence) by filmmakers to take us much further into
the spiritual journey of our souls. Into the dreams we call
illusion and the illusions we call reality. Into the awe and
wonder of this majestic, mysterious, and mystical adventure that
we call life. Into a new world of Spiritual Cinema. And we will
look back and thank James Cameron for bringing this new vision to
us for the first time.
Avatar in 3D while it is still in theaters. You just may
want to be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you
were there when everything changed.
— Stephen Simon
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