Friday 20 November 2009

Avatar and the fusion of Male and Female

At first glance, from the footage we have already been shown, Avatar seems a mix of the epic romantic sincerity of Titanic and the hardcore tooled-up cynicism of Aliens. To put it bluntly, something for the girls, something for the boys. Feminine and Masculine. The natural and the delicate set against the mechanised and the brute.

In Greek mythology Pandora (in Avatar the name of the alien planet where the army go to obtain the element unobtanium) was the first woman and a woman created to punish Man's greed after Prometheus stole fire from the Gods. Man stole a new power, a new technology, and the Gods unleashed the power of Woman in return.

Avatar seeks to plug into the source of the most ancient of mythologies and the most ancient of our differences, our two sexes. Avatar seeks to split the atom of human existence and watch it to go nuclear.

James Cameron has always played with the opposition of feminine and masculine archetypes (stereotypes?) and the line where they may meet. In Aliens he created one of the most iconic of these images in the mother / warrior Ripley carrying both Newt and a flamethrower (above left).

Now, with Avatar, Cameron offers us another embodiment of the stereotypical male and female - and the traits crudely associated with them - joined: Jake in his avatar body. Here is the invader, the brute rapist of the earth, disguised in the cloak of the natural order who, through his compassion and love for the 'natives', attempts to reconcile the two sides.

From the trailers and from the original scriptment, Avatar promises to be an exquisite and overwhelming experience. Thankfully there are still film-makers out there who have grand cinematic visions as well as the courage and ability to realise them.

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