James Cameron’s path breaking film Avaatar (2010) has been minutely dissected ever since its release. This review attempts to look into the communication aspect of the most expensive film ever made.
The film is of the classic ‘good over evil’ format. It starts off with the Commander –in-chief giving the new batch a military safety drill speech. How some things never change! History stands witness that good orators and speeches of twisted ‘truths’ have manipulated crowds and caused wars.
The whole concept of Avaatars is very similar to multi-player virtual role playing games like World of Warcraft etc. The player here assumes a character or ‘avatar’ in a fictional world. Avatars on the World Wide Web also refer to customised characters that are meant to represent you.
The Ecology of Pandora, the distant moon planet, is of special significance in the film. It stands as a brilliant example of communication and media. The biological brilliance of its trees is depicted by the Signal Transduction between the roots of trees. All living creatures are connected via Eywa (Mother Tree) who, at the time of dire need, sends out signals to the animals and birds to fight the Sky People. This concept of a network is highly similar to Digital Platforms. New Media mainly allows a satellites or a server to connect many computers, cell phones and thus individuals. Apart from that, the writer also attempts to depict the sacred relationship between indigenous population and Mother Nature.
The Na’vi People have a special language of their own all complete with war cries. The director along with linguistics experts Professor Frommer created unique syntactic and grammatical rules for the Na’vi Language. Example: Kaltxì – Hello, Nga – You, Tolaron – Hunted. With the coming of The Sky People (Earthmen) and Dr. Grace’s schooling initiatives, select Na’vi people learnt English. Thus, literally universalising the English language. Non-verbal signs from Eywa are taken very seriously by the people. Seeds of Eywa are considered an auspicious sign from her to the people.
Prayers are a way of communicating to the Mother Tree Eywa and their ancestors. This age old earth tradition continues to be depicted on Pandora but with a twist. This alien species have tentacles at the tip of their hair plaits. These tentacles are their used to make a ‘bond’ (Zahelu) or connection between animals, The Tree of Souls (of ancestors) and Eywa. When two tentacles intertwine, the sensual bond results in a strong union of sorts. The power of this bond has no bounds. Communication is possible by only thinking it. When all the Na’vi people together make a bond with Eywa, she is capable of transferring life from one body to another.
Communication by way of physical touch is portrayed several times. The physical act of touching among the indigenous is a non-verbal communication of unity and support.
Jake Sully, our loveable protagonist, video logs his experiences. This undying need of human to record their feels and memories is evident here as well as in the Tree of Souls. The Tree of souls records the memories of the ancestors of the Na’vi Clan.
What strikes me the most is the sense of community is beautifully revealed. Inter and Intra community harmony and the combining of forces by communication for the greater good of Pandora is touching.