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Avatar… glimpse into another culture?

December 17, 2009

This article just caught my eye today, especially because one of the primary goals we had in making our film, The Enemy God, was to strive for a hyper-real, immersive experience into another culture. In our film, the culture is very much real, as is the historically verifiable story. The Yanomamö of the Amazon are the embodiment of everything Cameron wants to extol in his film. And even better yet, they are real! It’s just too bad that Hollywood seems bored with actual culture that is full of drama and action and beauty and intrigue.

You can read the review in the Washington Post: ‘Avatar,’ ‘Young Victoria’ offer glimpses of other cultures

I admit that I’m very interested in Avatar. Certainly as a filmmaker I want to see what they have done from a technical standpoint. This article doesn’t give Cameron many points for story quality, though it seems unanimous that the film is amazing visually.

So I’ll just admit that this post is going out in the hopes that there are people out there who think blockbusters are fun but also want to discover the joy and amazement that real life and cultures can bring on the big screen as well.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2010 3:57 am

    I am pretty sure that Avatar borrowed interesting bits from other cultures.
    But yes, other cultures are intriguing – maybe scary to some, confusing?
    People travel the world to see other cultures and the result of them, usually they are better and wiser for it. Incorporating or immersing a good story and conflict within a strange culture can certainly be entertaining.

    • January 6, 2010 7:32 am

      I totally agree Phillip. I guess that was even a sort of odd thing to me about Avatar – the mish-mash of cultural references. To me it became every cliché of every indigenous group all thrown together in one hyper-idealized world.

      The point I intended to make is that films like Avatar, whose story seems very simplistic to me, doesn’t really honor other cultures. I have had indigenous friends comment that they really like the fact that the white guys finally lose in this ‘cowboys and indians’ battle. However, I don’t believe what Hollywood seems to believe, that you need a white guy to come in to save the day and get the girl. Indigenous cultures are full of wisdom and beauty and strength, but also their own conflicts and dark sides. I don’t think it does them the same service to make cartoon versions.

      My passion for this comes mainly from my struggles to tell an indigenous story in a way that shows the shades of the culture but in a way that engages the audience. What we ended up with in our film was not a blockbuster, but it does deeply affect people who see it. And the indigenous stars and storytellers feel honored by it.

      You’ll probably disagree with my post later today too! Thanks for the conversation.

      • January 6, 2010 11:26 am

        That’s quite a difficult task; give audiences’ desires to see big names and big effects. I would like to see your film – in fact I just ordered it 🙂

      • January 6, 2010 12:13 pm

        You’re right. Even telling a small story well is a difficult task. I hope you find ours interesting and entertaining. I think it’s safe to say it’s not an ordinary film, at least.

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