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The film Avatar has finally been released this month after being in development since 1994. I have not seen it yet, but I have read about it and discussed it with several people who have. This prose-poem tries to encapsulate some of my initial thoughts on this blockbuster, its initial reception and some of its meaning.

James Cameron, who wrote, produced and directed the film, stated in an interview that an avatar is: “an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form." In this film, though, avatar has more to do with human technology in the future being capable of injecting a human's intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body. "It's not an avatar in the sense of just existing as ones and zeroes in cyberspace,” said Cameron; “it's actually a physical body." The great student of myth, Joseph Campbell(1), should have been at the premier in London on 10 December 2009. I wonder what he would have said.

Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic. A field guide of 224 pages for the film's fictional setting of the planet of Pandora was released by Harper Entertainment just five weeks ago. The guide was entitled Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora. With an estimated $310 million to produce and $150 million for marketing, the film has already generated positive reviews from film critics. Roger Ebert, one of the more prestigious of film critics, wrote: “An extraordinary film: Avatar is not simply sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough."-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 30 December 2009.

Like viewing Star Wars back in ’77
some said/an obvious script with an
earnestness & corniness/part of what
makes it absorbing/said another/Gives
you a world, a place/worth visiting/eh?
Alive with action and a soundtrack that
pops with robust sci-fi shoot-'em-ups...

A mild critique of American militarism
and industrialism.....yes the military are
pure evil........the Pandoran tribespeople
are nature-loving, eco-harmonious, wise
Braveheart smurf warriors. Received....
nominations for the Critics' Choice Awards
of the Broadcast Film Critics Association &
on and on go the recommendations for the..
best this and that and everything else. What
do you think of all this Joseph Campbell???
You said we all have to work our own myth(1)
in our pentapolar, multicultural-dimensional
world with endless phantoms of our wrongly
informed imagination, with our tangled fears,
our pundits of error, ill-equipped to interpret
the social commotion tearing our world apart
and at play on planetizing-globalizing Earth.(2)

(1)Google Joseph Campbell for some contemporary insights into the individualized myth we all have to work out in our postmodern world.
(2)The Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, has been presented as an avatar in India beginning, arguably, in the 1960s. With only 1000 Baha’is in India in 1960 to more than 2 million by the year 2010. Baha’u’llah has been associated with the kalkin avatar who, according to a major Hindu holy text, will appear at the end of the kali yuga, one of the four main stages of history, for the purpose of reestablishing an era of righteousness. There are many examples of what one might call a quasi-cross-cultural messianistic approach to Bahá'í teaching in India.

This approach has included: (a) emphasizing the figures of Buddha and Krishna as past Manifestations of God or avatars; (b) making references to Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, (c) the substitution of Sanskrit-based terminology for Arabic and Persian where possible; for example, Bhagavan Baha for Bahá'u'lláh, (d) the incorporation in both song and literature of Hindu holy spots, hero-figures and poetic images and (e) using heavily Sanskritized-Hindi translations of Baha'i scriptures and prayers.

Ron Price
30 December 2009

Tags: avatar, comment, dialogue, movies, released

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Does the film, Avatar, support or conflict with the Baha'i faith?

And what are the moral implications of Avatar's financial success for the world's societies?
Thanks for your questions, Pihk. The film, Avatar, as a piece of entertainment in the world of cinema is part of the great film industry. There is no official position of this Faith on films and so whatever comments I make here are personal ones. Here is some info about a recent Baha'i film festival FYI--Ron
Film festival brings it all together
January 30, 2009 - 4:57pm

Film is a lot like the Baha’i Faith, says Mithaq Kazimi. One brings together all the art forms. The other brings together all the peoples and religions of the world. The two combine also in Kazimi, a young Baha'i filmmaker and native of Afghanistan who founded the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival (DBIFF).

DBIFF debuted in December at the 24th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The public was invited to attend and some 600 people from around the country participated in this two day event. In the coming year, DBIFF plans to take its films on the road to several cities in the United States and abroad.

The films, which were submitted by Baha'is and other industry professionals from all over the world including Malaysia, Spain, the United States, New Zealand, Cambodia, Australia, Pakistan, France, Canada, Hungary, Ethiopia, India, and the United Kingdom, range from music videos to television programs and feature-length movies.

The shortest film runs shy of three minutes, the longest 117 minutes. Some premiered at DBIFF but Armed, a music video featuring well-known actors Alex Rocco and Eva La Rue, has been viewed by thousands on the Internet. And Donkey in Lahore, a documentary about the quixotic courtship of an Australian and a Pakistani, was screened at the respected Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

What binds these productions is their makers' belief that their films will help contribute to the advancement of a new civilization. One of the reasons DBIFF was created is to introduce and recognize films with Baha’i themes, such as the oneness of God, of religion and of humanity. As each film was screened at the Grand Canyon conference, the audience discussed its themes and their applicability to people’s lives.

This year's selection includes films that explore the power of prayer, forgiveness, justice, equality and the contributions of Baha’is to their communities around the world:

* Little Mosque on the Prairie, a TV comedy about a small Muslim congregation learning to live in harmony with each other and with fellow residents of their fictional Canadian town.
* Justice, a short film from France about two men on opposite sides of a jail cell: prisoner and visitor. They don't know each other but they're linked inextricably.
* Tsehai Loves Learning, a TV show from Ethiopia that follows a 6-year-old giraffe as it learns about reading, writing and truthfulness.
* Ardia, short film from Spain that shines a bright light on how we treat people who are different.

The festival founder himself aspires to make positive contributions to society through film. He has produced 16 Days in Afghanistan, a documentary on life after the fall of the Taliban, and Quenching the Light, a short film on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran that has been screened in many events and television stations.

Filmmakers and film fans are encouraged to participate as the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival takes place in different cities in 2009. Check the DBIFF site in the future for upcoming dates and locations.
I'm curious - why are you talking about the Baha'i faith in India. The Baha'i faith began in Iran. You could be a lot more personal about your comments if you had seen the movie.
I'm talking about the Baha'i faith in India because of the concept of avatar which has a strong Hindu connection. The Baha'i faith began in Iran but the concept of avatar is not a Shi'ah concept. I agree that could be a lot more personal about my comments if I had had seen the movie, but I have not seen it.
In Hinduism Avatar refers to a deliberate descent of a deity from heaven to earth, and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation", but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation".
I read this twice and am still not sure I understand what I'm reading. Can you give a 10 word synopsis of your point?
Spindaddydad, I make many points in this poem. But to stress one of the main ones the film is:

A mild critique of American militarism and industrialism; the military are pure evil........the Pandoran tribespeople are nature-loving, eco-harmonious, wise Braveheart smurf warriors. Of course there is much more but you asked for 10 words.-Ron


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