Monday, January 18, 2010

Do they have Metaphysical Poets on Pandora?

Watching Avatar was a wonderful experience. While the story is common it is majestically and emotionally handled, and during the climax I found myself caring for Neytiri and her people. It is a sort of movie that is bound to become a phenomenon. Not that it is a great or a profound film. But it will surely be an event in cinema history. It will be watched and discussed throughout the world. In fact, it is being watched and discussed throughout the world.

The making of the movie, the technologies used, the Pandora universe the film creates, and the film's implicit comments on the War in Iraq is well-known now. And it will be pointless of me to write about it. The film is extravagantly ambitious as far as the visuals are concerned; and what I liked most about the film was the interconnectedness of nature and Na’vi people. The trees, animals, and ecosystem are all in synch, forming a single large entity called Pandora. The Na’vi just has to plug her tail in a tree bark and she can extract any information; even the memories of past ancestors. That’s an interesting concept. It is the sort of harmonious state mentioned in Zen philosophy. As in, life is in itself a flow, and the awareness that everything is one is the highest bliss (please note that this is not the gist of Zen Buddhism, which is a vast doctrine, and I have just mentioned one of the ideas of a state of consciousness explained by Zen scholars). In Upanishads also it is mentioned that every leaf contains a medicine, but you need to find a doctor who can extract it. What I mean by these examples is that the higher state of consciousness talked about in Asian schools of thoughts is something a practitioner yearns for, as it is not easily attainable considering the manifold directions mind tends to run to. But such a state is easily available to the Na’vi. They are living in a sort of utopia where harmony is not achieved but is obvious. It is an envious state, but I wonder: what do they yearn for? What sort of myths do they form, considering they are themselves mythical? Do they have metaphysical poets on Pandora? I guess not coz Pandora is the end of metaphysics!

I am sure Cameron does not intent us to entertain such questions. He has made a wonderful film nonetheless, and he has filled Pandora with such beautiful and humble images that it reminded me of the films of Hayao Miyazaki whose Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke are enchanting visual experiences. Miyazaki is a master filmmaker, who always manages to find balance between myth and reality, giving his films a fable-like quality. With Avatar Cameron comes quite close.