Lit.Org - a community for readers and writers Advanced Search

Average Rating

(1 votes)

RatingRated by

You must login to vote

The Religion beneath the Movie

We killed our mother. According to Pandora inhabitants, the Na'vi, by 2154 A.D., we, Earthlings, would have killed the womb which gives life to our species. We have killed Nature, the trees, forests, animals, mountains, rivers, winds and seas. We have upset the natural balance of Earth, Air, Water and Fire and that it is why our "planet was dying", as the Na'vi would see it. Yet, in 2154, Man repeats the sour experience in outer space. "Man" invades Pandora, a moon belonging to the Alpha Centaury star system, for the mining of a rare metal, Unobtainium (Un-obtain-ium!), and does not hesitate to kill the inhabitants of that planet, to dig the metal from underneath their homes and sacred places, in the pursuit of corporate profits. Sounds too familiar reminding you of the scene of international politics? James Cameron’s AVATAR shows you the extrapolation on an interstellar scale.

The religion of Pandorans may seem bizarre to you at a first glance. But on a second look, you will probably realize that it is not that different from the original spiritual beliefs of Native Americans. Those beliefs, truth be said, could ultimately have the cure for our predicament.

What is a religion anyway?

Ancient clans established a set of laws, beliefs and acceptable individual behaviors to ensure the survival of the clan. These moral laws were carefully woven with mystical aspects; surrounding life, death, disease and natural phenomena together with sacred rituals and mythical stories of the ancestors; giving birth to ancient "religions". Social evolution, in turn, ensured that only the viable "religions" would survive. Good and Evil was defined on the basis of what would enhance or degrade survival of the "group". As clans developed into tribes, nations and states, the group became bigger as to encompass the entire "People" within a social system until such time that old religions had to be modernized as to cope with globalization and acquire, or pretend to possess, a universal tone to their teachings, promoting equality, peace and harmony with others, regardless of one's health, wealth, social status, race, color, gender or faith. The old religions, however, have failed to meet the ultimate challenge before Man as human colonization of the Planet and the associated advancement in technology and unchecked economic growth went beyond healthy conditions required for human sustainability on the planet.

James Cameron’s AVATAR, the movie, now may be offering us a bit more than 2 ½ hours of sheer entertainment. AVATAR, the second largest grossing movie in history, with over 1.3 billion dollars in box office to-date, may be opening our eyes to new ways of modernizing our religions, to ensure that man will voluntarily give up excessive consumption, greed and convenience, not in exchange for a seat in Heavens Express, but to reach one's inner peace while improving the chances for our children and future generations to sustained life on Planet Earth.

I always say that Man is not a threat to Nature at all. Nothing that Man can do will have any significant impact on Nature. The danger, however, is that Man, with unchecked growth and “babyish” behavior, can and have sadly managed to upset the delicate balance required for Man’s own survival on Earth. The Earth is 4 billion years old and is likely to exist for many more millions of years to come. Man is not a danger to Earth. Man is a danger to the balance which can allow for Man’s existence on Earth. CNN reported a post-Avatar depression syndrome experienced by some audience after seeing the movie "because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora." Avatar Forums show fans expressing their disgust with the relatively non-idyllic planet Earth and the human race. But the truth is, the Earth is still so beautiful beyond anything rendered by virtual reality. We can still enjoy that very real beauty on Planet Earth if we choose to live our lives differently, maintaining this beauty and becoming one with the splendor of the natural balance that has allowed us to Be, exist and evolve.

What if this is how we should now define good and evil? In how one action enhances or degrades the "Balance" of all living things, including humans, animals, trees, forests, mountains, rivers, winds, seas and beyond? Once, some two thousand years ago, Man had reached that sophisticated spiritual connection with the "Universe". In Hermetic teachings and "pagan" religions, the ancestors had developed such a holistic view of Man in relation to Nature and the universe. That is why they had animal deities and gods representing rivers, wind, sea, fertility, sun and moon. The true core of their spirituality became misunderstood as we accused them with the worship of stone idols.

Maybe this is what it takes, new religious beliefs to convince Man to take charge of his own destiny from the hands of the "Machines", the "Superstructures"; giant corporations, states, alliances and power structures, controlling Man's life and driving Mankind to ill-fated extinction.

The Vatican slammed AVATAR in belittling comments and reviews. Pope Benedict often speaks of the dangers of turning nature into a "new divinity" and neo-paganism. But movies like AVATAR may be just what it takes for us to develop a true understanding of the coming Man-induced doom's day. Blockbuster movies, games, songs and best-selling books.

Maybe this is the new scripture. Crafted by the same machine of Corporate Capitalism which is destroying the Earth, AVATAR has pushed the limits of technology to deliver the new gospel in stunning 3D IMAX temples near you.

AVATAR reminds you of "Dances with Wolves", where First Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, a white American Soldier identifies with a group of "Lakota", a native American tribe and fights along their side defending Red Indian ideals against his own white people.

Just like in natural evolution, it took quite a few landmark movies to arrive to AVATAR, which now stands in a class of its own, possibly as one of the best movies, if not "the best" movie, ever produced. Wachowski Brothers' "The Matrix" introduced the AVATAR concept where one human being "drives" another parallel existence, a machine or a virtual human life in the "machine world". In addition to the Matrix, AVATAR's genetic DNA may show lineage to Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Disney's Monsters, Tarzan, Pocahontas, Lion King and Mulan; James Cameron's own movies; "Aliens" and "Terminator", to "Lord of the Rings", "Harry Potter" and even Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain".

In this amazing production, however, James Cameron, also the director of Titanic, the biggest grossing movie of all times, gives us something totally unique and inspiring in AVATAR. Creating the Pandora universe with such captivating beauty, natural surprises, amazing physics; stunning detail and even a well-developed local language and religious beliefs, goes far beyond excellence in film-making. In addition to claiming 10+ Academy Awards soon, AVATAR, I suspect, will become a religion in its own right, both in the cinematic sense amongst fans as well as in the spiritual sense amongst environmentalists. And this may be just what we need right now.

Related Items


The following comments are for "AVATAR: the Religion beneath the Movie"
by waelnawara

love this
I loved this article!

You wrote: "I always say that Man is not a threat to Nature at all. Nothing that Man can do will have any significant impact on Nature. The danger, however, is that Man, with unchecked growth and “babyish” behavior, can and have sadly managed to upset the delicate balance required for Man’s own survival on Earth."

That is one of the most evolved statements I have read about environmental crisis in a long, long time. Most environmentalists lament, "We're destroying the earth," as if the earth were a small child that needed our protetion, when in truth, it is our race that needs protection from ourselves. Our history is only a few thousand years old. The earth's history is millions of years old. Long after we're gone from this place, destroyed by our own technology, the earth will still be here.

Simply, we're destroying ourselves. To the earth, this is nothing more than a minor annoyance.

Anyway -- great article! I'm glad you took the tine to write it.


( Posted by: ochanilele [Member] On: January 24, 2010 )

Ugh! My first post in weeks and it's filled with typos! I need to use my word processor first, and then plug my spellchecked work into lit.


( Posted by: ochanilele [Member] On: January 24, 2010 )

Thanks for the review, waelnawara. I also found it interesting that James Cameron took the time to explain exactly *how* Pandora talked to the Na'vi. He didn't have to, but it's a nice touch, explaining that Pandora's plantlife makes up a neural network which transfers information in the same way neurons in the brain do. Those are the kinds of touches I appreciate, even if the movie itself felt a bit like a more sophisticated, more exciting version of Fern Gully...or Pocahontas...

Apparently, 'Unobtainium' is engineer slang for a substance which would be ideal for something, but which is impossible to use due to being incredibly rare, ridiculously expensive, or physically impossible.

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: January 24, 2010 )

Same Page
Hi Ochani !

Thanks for your kind words. I think we are on the same Page. If we do not behave, the Earth will wash our asses of the face of existence in no time at all. The Earth is 4 billion years old. Our Human Existence is a few hundred thousand years - maybe a couple of million years max. But we only started acting really naughty for a few hundred or thousand years. The Earth saw, dealt with and eradicated many species before, so I am just sorry for us, humans.
The Earth itself is only one of many planets in one Star system of billions. So, I am not worried about nature at all. I am just worried about our sorry ass.

Again, thanks for reading and commenting.


( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: January 24, 2010 )

Dear Beckett
Thanks for your comments.

I actually have never seen Fern Gully ... I will look it up ... I loved Avatar THOUGH - I must go and see it a few more times


( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: January 24, 2010 )

Box Office Update
The update on Box Office Sales is that AVATAR now is officially the highest grossing movie in history!

Not that box office is always indicative of any film's quality - but I am particularly happy that AVATAR's message has been received by so many minds

( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: February 2, 2010 )

I'm crazy about that movie. It was great! Good article.


( Posted by: Vajrayana [Member] On: February 2, 2010 )

Great Movie indeed
@ Vajrayana
I totally agree. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It's just packed with the kind of issues which are good for debate.
Thanks for your comments and kind words.

( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: February 2, 2010 )

Add Your Comment

You Must be a member to post comments and ratings. If you are NOT already a member, signup now it only takes a few seconds!

All Fields are required

Commenting Guidelines:
  • All comments must be about the writing. Non-related comments will be deleted.
  • Flaming, derogatory or messages attacking other members well be deleted.
  • Adult/Sexual comments or messages will be deleted.
  • All subjects MUST be PG. No cursing in subjects.
  • All comments must follow the sites posting guidelines.
The purpose of commenting on Lit.Org is to help writers improve their writing. Please post constructive feedback to help the author improve their work.