AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:42 am

My sons and I saw Avatar last week and loved it. Not too sure how much it fits in with the dhamma-- The spiritual beliefs of the Na'vi seemed to have more similarities with Hinduism and Native American traditions. Still, we liked it, very much so. It was visually stunning, and there was a heart to the story. Way better then Transformers, which my youngest is crazy about.

While some critics complained about it, I especially appreciated how many old story themes and archetypes were reworked by Cameron. I think in this day and age its a good movie to have out there, if only to get people thinking and talking about topics like war, terrorism, materialism, imperialism, greed, interdependence of lifeforms, science & the environment, traditional spiritual systems, etc.

Have you seen it, and if so what did you think?

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:12 am

Hi Christopher
I went to see it last week with my fourteen year old son. I was impressed though i am a bit of sucker for sci-fi. Visually, the movie is stunning.
As for the spiritual dimension of the movie - I think Cameron has drawn from the spiritual beliefs of indigenous cultures.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby phil » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:02 am

Lovely and thrilling first half ruined by the last 30 minutes of endless battle scenes. (I doubt that is giving away anything.) Gave me a headache. And as for the 3D, very nice, but I took the glasses off once and realized the screen was filled with light that was lost due to the murk of the shades. I don't understand how a film-maker is willing to sacrifice that for special effects. Anyways, something really generous about Cameron's desire to create spectacular entertainments, and the message against imperialism is always welcome anywhere.

Metta,

Phil

p.s my favourite movie last year was Moon. I can't believe how little attention it is getting in Awards talk.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:18 am

The plot reminded me a lot of a Kevin Costner film, "Dances With Wolves". My biggest criticism of both films: [well, I don't want to give away plot...]

Although the Dhamma is not immediately present in the movie, there are some good discussion points: consumerism leads to greed, which leads to sociopathic destructive behavior. A simpler lifestyle produces less suffering, and this is contrary to modern value systems that claim technological advancements should relieve suffering.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:25 am

Hi Monkey Mind
Monkey Mind wrote:The plot reminded me a lot of a Kevin Costner film, "Dances With Wolves". My biggest criticism of both films: [well, I don't want to give away plot...]

I actually heard another person make that connection. The film that came to mind for me was 'Man called Horse'. I was never a big fan of Kevin Costner.

As for elements of the story having dhammic overtones - i think its to be expected in a way. We all suffer and we all wish to move from suffering to a state of less suffering or some form of resolution or happiness. And happiness could mean a shopping spree in the mall, political revolution, the death of one's enemy or something a bit more sublime.

The quality of 3D was just brilliant.
metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:46 am

Howdy all.

Ben wrote:Hi Christopher
I went to see it last week with my fourteen year old son. I was impressed though i am a bit of sucker for sci-fi. Visually, the movie is stunning.
As for the spiritual dimension of the movie - I think Cameron has drawn from the spiritual beliefs of indigenous cultures.


Hi Ben. I'm also a big sci fi fan, and yes, agree about the spiritual belief influences. I thought it was cool how the scientists "hooked" into the avatars in a way that was similar to "Matrix" except these were living organisms, not computer generated beings. They faced some of the same "online/offline" challenges though that were explored in Matrix.

And I thought it was interesting to borrow so heavily from indigenous cultures for the "aliens" as Star Wars borrowed from Japanese Samurai culture. Watching powerful blue "Natives" (on dragons) take down space ships with bows and arrows provided a new twist on some old themes...

phil wrote:Lovely and thrilling first half ruined by the last 30 minutes of endless battle scenes. (I doubt that is giving away anything.) Gave me a headache. And as for the 3D, very nice, but I took the glasses off once and realized the screen was filled with light that was lost due to the murk of the shades. I don't understand how a film-maker is willing to sacrifice that for special effects. Anyways, something really generous about Cameron's desire to create spectacular entertainments, and the message against imperialism is always welcome anywhere.



Hey Phil. We didn't try the 3D. As for the battle scenes I felt like this was Titanic for men at times, and to hook average Joe "the modern warrior" those scenes were probably included.

I guess after Lord of the Rings, Transformers, Gladiator, Troy, etc they knew that element was something that pulls folks (especially men) in. Romance for the ladies, battles for the men? Very nice though as you say to have that include an anti-imperialist message. This movie is a bit of a "challenge" for many Americans, because of that, imo...

Monkey Mind wrote:
Although the Dhamma is not immediately present in the movie, there are some good discussion points: consumerism leads to greed, which leads to sociopathic destructive behavior. A simpler lifestyle produces less suffering, and this is contrary to modern value systems that claim technological advancements should relieve suffering.


Excellent observations, which i hope sinks a bit more deeply into a few million people's minds...

Monkey Mind wrote:The plot reminded me a lot of a Kevin Costner film, "Dances With Wolves". My biggest criticism of both films: [well, I don't want to give away plot...]


Is there anyone left on our planet who does NOT know the plot, lol?

I agree though- "Dances with Wolves," also "The New World" (about Pocohontas) seemed to be a plot influence...



And "The Emerald Forest" which is a gem of a movie, imo...

Last edited by christopher::: on Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:27 am

I know Chris was planning on seeing this movie a couple of days ago, so I am looking forward to her thoughts...
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:34 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:I would not limit oneself to just movies:

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/12 ... d+Blend%29

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:28 am

Ben wrote:I know Chris was planning on seeing this movie a couple of days ago, so I am looking forward to her thoughts...


Hello Ben, and all,

Yes, I went to see the 3D version - hadn't seen a 3D movie before. The person I went with had seen it the week before but was so impressed he wanted to see it again. He said that he was surprised that the second viewing was just as enjoyable as the first, and that he noticed a number of new things he hadn't noticed the first time.

The colours, the animals and flying creatures, the tropical forest, the sounds were riveting, and the unexpected alliances between huge powerful beasts and comparatively weak, but agile, native inhabitants was interesting.

I felt a real connection between what was happening to the indigenous inhabitants, the way they were viewed as being able to be fooled so their resources could be stolen and exploited by races with higher technology, less ethics, and the will to destroy. I thought of the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines.
The double talk was the same that we have heard in various 'oil' inspired wars around the world. Same old, same old - I thought of indigenous people all over this world, first being demonised and then having their land stolen and their cultures destroyed with a 'clear' conscience by those who saw themselves as superior and having more advanced cultures. Higher technology and higher moral values clearly don't necessarily go together. The woman near me was crying quietly when the destruction began, and I have to say I felt something like Piti all over when the tables were turned unexpectedly.

Some connections to buddhism which arose in my mind:
I felt the expression of oneness with nature by the indigenous people, the spiritual life which was their essence, and the value and respect they accorded to the Elders in the nation was similar to the culture Buddhism arose in. The 'transfer' of consciousness - a re-becoming - of the 'hero' into a completely different bodily form is a reminder of what may happen to all of us when this life ends. Perhaps not so auspiciously. The ease with which delusion (moha) overcame the Sky people, so that they could believe they had a 'right' to act in the way they were.
It was heart-warming to see that some of the Sky people had good Sila, and stood firm against the evil being perpetrated, even to losing their own lives.
There was a hint of kamma in the outcome - and I see this movie as being part of a series - that is, there will be a future re-becoming.

with metta
Chris
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:49 am

I don't like the film, not seen it, or anything like that, but it stole its name from a nickelodian aname style cartoon which is being released as a film this year at some point.
it is based on eastern philosophies generally and the cartoon has many references to Dhamma so hopefully the Movie will.
it is being called the Last Air Bender, Aang - the last airbender, or Avatar, the former is the title of the movie and the cartoons can be called one of the three depending on where you are.

sorry for the off topic, but it is related in a loose sense.
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby phil » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:30 pm

Honestly, I can't think of anything that felt like Dhamma to me. Not the violent (natural enough, of course) response to the enemy forces, not the group magic rituals, not the worship of a creator goddess. Nice entertainment, sure. But for non-violent defeat of an enemy, "Witness" is my favourite. Amish pacifists rock! (I guess you heard the great story of the community of Amish who raised money to start an education fund for the children of the man who went on a shooting spree at an Amish school.)
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby salty-J » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:36 pm

I enjoyed it very much, and think if it's watched for what it is, a sci-fi movie :alien:, it is fantastic. I think any cons regarding the films plot being unoriginal or overly simplistic characters or anything like that are easily outweighed by the pros of the amazing visual effects and all the cool details.....but I would highly recommend seeing the 3-D version, Christopher, it was so cool.....now that I am typing about it, it reminds me I wanted to go see it again on an IMAX in 3-D :tongue:
In fact, I've already been twice, my wife and I went that first Friday it'd come out, and then the following Sunday morning, when the family were sitting around, "What are we going to do today?", I thought, "Well, the kids haven't seen Avatar yet", so off we went again :popcorn: heheh. Now I want to be a 10 foot tall blue person with 3 fingers! :twothumbsup:
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby salty-J » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:41 pm

Manapa wrote:I don't like the film, not seen it, or anything like that, but it stole its name from a nickelodian aname style cartoon which is being released as a film this year at some point.
it is based on eastern philosophies generally and the cartoon has many references to Dhamma so hopefully the Movie will.
it is being called the Last Air Bender, Aang - the last airbender, or Avatar, the former is the title of the movie and the cartoons can be called one of the three depending on where you are.

sorry for the off topic, but it is related in a loose sense.

yeah, that threw me for a loop at first before it came out, I was thinking, "Is this Avatar(the Airbender), or not?" but after I heard an interview with the Cameron guy on the radio about the film, I decided to check it out. The Last Airbender movie previews look pretty cool to though!
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Tex » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:22 pm

Thought it was terrific. Yes, the plot has been done before and a couple of the bad guy characters are completely over the top. I have no problem overlooking things like that. I didn't go for Shakespearean dialogue and character development; I went to be visually blown away, and I was. I've seen all the big time special effects CGI movies, and many of them are very impressive, but this one had something more. This is special effects as art.

And the plot is still important because every kid I know is seeing this movie, and there's no way we'd get them to sit through Dances With Wolves or anything similar.
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:32 pm

salty-J wrote:
Manapa wrote:I don't like the film, not seen it, or anything like that, but it stole its name from a nickelodian aname style cartoon which is being released as a film this year at some point.
it is based on eastern philosophies generally and the cartoon has many references to Dhamma so hopefully the Movie will.
it is being called the Last Air Bender, Aang - the last airbender, or Avatar, the former is the title of the movie and the cartoons can be called one of the three depending on where you are.

sorry for the off topic, but it is related in a loose sense.

yeah, that threw me for a loop at first before it came out, I was thinking, "Is this Avatar(the Airbender), or not?" but after I heard an interview with the Cameron guy on the radio about the film, I decided to check it out. The Last Airbender movie previews look pretty cool to though!

Oh Yeah,
I will be going to see it if I can, not many cinemas over here so may have to wait untill video
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:45 pm

I saw it last night, in 3D, and enjoyed it. I agree completely with those who have said the special effects were fantastic, and with those who saw more indigenous peoples' beliefs in it the story than dharma.
Congratulations to Tilt for the darkroastedblend link: the connections that article made were all great, too. (I'll just throw in a free plug here for Ursula Le Guin, whose 'Word for World' was mentioned there: she is one of the most deeply humane sf writers anywhere, anytime, and I recommend her books to everyone here. Can't recommend the movie of 'Earthsea', though - it misrepresents the book.)

But I now have another reason to like 'Avatar'. Someone I hardly know sent me a link in reply to something I said about (surprise!) climate change. Andrew Bolt is a prominent (am I allowed to say 'horribly prominent'?) right-wing Australian journalist and blogger. As far as I can see, he stands for absolutely everything I oppose, so I figure his response to 'Avatar' means its political message is right on target. :smile:
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_avatar_the_answer_to_a_copenhagens_dream/

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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:31 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:But I now have another reason to like 'Avatar'. Someone I hardly know sent me a link in reply to something I said about (surprise!) climate change. Andrew Bolt is a prominent (am I allowed to say 'horribly prominent'?) right-wing Australian journalist and blogger. As far as I can see, he stands for absolutely everything I oppose, so I figure his response to 'Avatar' means its political message is right on target. :smile:
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_avatar_the_answer_to_a_copenhagens_dream/


Yes, you may say the man is 'horribly prominent'! Andrew Bolt is, as you said, the worst sort of right-wing political commentator in this country. I remember vividly his style before John Howard was booted out of office. Bolt was then, and still is, a mouth-piece for the conservative right and appeals to the lowest common denominator. Intellectually bereft.
Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:47 am

Avatar just smashed all box office records, making it into the top five highest-grossing movies of all time in only 17 days. It took Dark Knight 33 weeks to get to that spot. The film just opened in China, yesterday and will probably be #2 by this time next week, right behind Titanic, lol...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hi ... sing_films

So what is it with Cameron and his movies?
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: AVATAR- the Movie: Pros & Cons?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:32 am

Hello all,

It had to happen ... :tongue:

Is blue the new black? Why some people think Avatar is racist
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... _some.html

metta
Chris
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