Concoction of concoctions but well Cameron-style (Avatar: the path of water), by Gustavo F. Gros | HLC
James Cameron has a recurring obsession in his cinematography: like Marshall McLuhan, he understands that technology and its means are an extension of man’s faculties to overcome his biological limitations and overcome them, but that in that overcoming, they become a weapon of double edge: they end up attacking the man. In the three blockbuster tanks of him, Terminator (1984),Titanic (1998) and Avatar (2009) amply demonstrates this, almost without metaphors.
James Cameron understands that the poetics of his films is at the very juncture of this supposed contradiction; that is to say, that of needing technology no matter how much it turns against us. At this juncture, he always tries to locate an ethical, moral message where, broadly speaking, “controlled technology” would be good and its abuse would be bad. In that good and bad, appears Avatar, the path of waterengaging in a rare ecological interplanetary anti-pro-capitalist dialectic that becomes a confusing, baroque, somewhat childish concoction but, curiously, very entertaining.
James Cameron shoots movies where ethics and morality flirt with morality; where “the human” is questioned between the alien and the technological: where “the human”, apparently, has a it must be that does not comply Where “the human” is dysfunctional due to its own intrinsic cruelty and that is why it needs “the external” to, precisely, humanize itself: in Terminator 2 (1991), with the fatherly T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sacrificing himself for John Connor; in the abyss (1989), with the aliens that emerge from the bottom of the sea; in Avatarwith the Na’vi who, although they have the face of cats-blue elves and gigantic, are more human than humans themselves in the noble sense of the term.
James Cameron accentuates noble “humanity” in Avatar, the path of water from some aliens whose genetics can be copied by humans: they can imitate their bodies, their functionalities, but, apparently, not their souls. this is where Avatar, the path of water he gasps, although with a certain positive resolution: is the human being bad because he was born bad, because society made him bad, because personal experiences in family and social life pushed him to do so, and/or vice versa, is he good for the same reasons? : essence, family, society, tradition?
James Cameron, like an anthropologist riddled with CGI and impressive special effects, that is to say, like a sociologist-filmmaker, purges these responses from the side of tradition: what contains every society and family so that breed “Good” individuals is the tradition that unites and links them in determined social practices such as politics, religion, economy, ecology, war, beyond the planet to which they belong.
James Cameron, then, turns to ancient human cultures: Aztecs, Mayans, Native American nations, Maoris, African tribes, all peoples devastated by European colonialism -by the colonialism of the “white man”- to try, in his concoction, to rescue noble ways of life, with noble philosophies and noble actions.
James Cameron, in his concoction, understands that all nobility is related, primal and foundationally, with “good ecology”… In other words, it is in the good treatment of the environment that any tradition can establish bonds of full coexistence that are worth maintaining, for which it is worth fighting and warring; bonds of coexistence that threaten the sense of progress (economic, technocratic) of civilization, stripping it bare as barbarism precisely. And here, in this nude, is where technology collapses into its own need to be used. Curiously, Avatar, the path of water, which preaches -at times in a solemn and clumsy way- these diatribes, has been built almost 90% by the most advanced digital technology in history: there is not a single plane that has not received the touch or retouching of a computer . The most beautiful landscapes of Pandora’s “nature” are all products of digital advancement and the oodles of money it takes to pull off such technical feats. Nothing, almost, in Avatar, the path of water is natural, but everything is technical and artificial; in fact, the actors themselves are a technological “avatar” designed between green walls and cables with sensors on their faces and different parts of the body.
James Cameron, however, entertains. In and with his moral contradictions; in and with his anthropological blunders, he entertains himself. AND Avatar, the path of water It does not aspire to much more than that: entertain. Traveling to Pandora for almost three hours and getting lost in that masterfully designed universe with advanced computers between a cheesy and cliché story that, nevertheless, is worth entertainment, is, precisely, that: travel to another world to have fun.
James Cameron, in Avatar, the path of water, proposes the latest (cinematic) technology as entertainment; as a mere means of and for mass entertainment. If someone really thinks about the film with a deeper perspective and is disappointed, that’s someone’s problem.
James Cameron, therefore, has planned two more films of Avatar, where the interesting thing, in any case, beyond the predictability of history, will be to see what new technological forms it offers to entertain us, to amuse us, to surprise us, to manipulate us, to show us concoctions that amuse no matter how solemn and “serious” they are. try to be, sell yourself; no matter how innocent they are in showing us that the true alien from the movie is the human who wants to conquer Pandora; no matter how artificial and digital that Pandora may be where they want to moralize us with the “nature” of an eco-moral, primal world, in harmony, despite the fact that chaos is, precisely, its most substantial paradigm.
Avatar: The Path of Water (United States, 2022). Directed by: James Cameron. Screenplay: James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver. Photography: Russell Carpenter. Music: Simon Franglen. Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi, Edie Falco, CCH Pounder. Duration: 192 minutes.
 Far, far away, however, in aesthetics, plot and masterly art Dance with wolves (1990) by the great Kevin Costner, although valid in these 2.0 times of digital avatar(s) and social networks with “biographies” to fill with content.