Still from Avatar (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
(Note: This is a reply to Stephanie’s Z’s review of the film, which I just missed being able to comment on.)
Saw this movie; thought Cameron felt this movie way more than you're arguing he did. Special effects so awesome, a world so beautiful, so eternal and seductive, a story so satisfying and true: neither we, nor he, are ever supposed to decide to leave. The next step for him, that is, is not the next movie, but for this movie to be made to seem our world. I don't think he was a distant individual paying homage to some "other,"or ever for a moment thinking bachelor, but someone who is making clear that this story is his soul, as he humbles down, in a way, to embrace the communal lush.
People on this thread are talking cosmopolitanism and philistinism. Cameron has always been an interesting case. If philistinism is lapsing into group think, losing yourself to emotive child stories, in a way the particular cannot relate to, Cameron's films tend to be way too alert, I think, for them to seem really philistine. If the characters don't think, be actually quite smart and discerning, they're dead. This is true even with Titanic -- which did lose all the T2 wit -- with Rose thinking "what to do? what to do?" until the whistle-grabbing very end. Even though most cosmopolitans hate “Titanic,” they want you to know they love T2 -- and often Aliens -- and I think it's because you're kept alert, smart, and feel distinct, from beginning to end, in many of his films.
This changes here. Stephanie yet again here saves the actress, but she's the emotionally primitive date you lapse to when you've actually now begun to tire of the Sigmourny Weavers of the world, whose level of interestingness unceasingly demand you stay conscious and awake. Stephanie's right about the guy. There is nothing particular about him. He is just a wash, making him so different from what we usually get with Cameron. And the villains: the corporate hack goes Sigmourny's way in this film: he is nowhere as present and relevant as he is in Aliens and (if you allow a bit of latitude) in T2 (I'm thinking the psychologist). We get a truck, instead. And it, he, fights the tree -- the group spirit in this film, which arises in the end, to give you that feeling you never get elsewhere in Cameron: being buoyed by a larger-than-you spirit of righteous, benevolent goodness, that will address all concerns, make you feel undefeatable, will make you whole. (Actually, I suppose there was some of this at the end of Titanic, but it's in full rush here.) The action could end up seeming less distinct, moment-to-moment possible and crucial, and it would thereby PLAY to the sense of enrapture, the mystical and pre-ordained. If I go, there's another right behind me to take my place: you feel this dumb awe which numbs / kows individual pretensions, at the end of film. And this is philistinism. I feared it was our future, just as soon as democrats chose dream-addresser Obama, over conference-maker Hillary.
Someone said Gaia. This is my concern. Gaia was a concept by hippies who, though they talked collectivism, were just as much about nurturing individual difference -- your own special genius. Their personalities unfolded, and they became particulars, names, individual stand-outs. But this is Gaia as lapse into group belonging. If the youth go for it, cosmopolitans will become alien to them, become enemies to them, and we'll be surrounded on all sides.
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What I do when I find I am so late reading the thread that it's already closed is post a link to the article and then say whatever the hell I want on my own blog ( inkpaperwords.blogspot.com ). You might consider that rather than interrupt a thread that has nothing whatsoever to do with your comments. (Thesaurus Rex, response to post, “Long live ‘The Young Victoria’,” Salon, 18 Dec. 2009)
What I did was wait until I actually could see the film, before commenting. This way I could say something about the film itself, rather than just about Cameron or Stephanie -- You can't have a (or at least much of a) conversation about a book before reading it, wouldn't you agree? The thread's been up a few days, but that's only reviewer's privilege -- opened here Friday, couldn't see the film until Saturday morning, started writing about half hour after the film finished, and the thread clunked out, ten minutes into the writing. So I posted here, and wrote a letter to Salon encouraging them to do what's necessary to make Salon conversations about movies as interesting as they are elsewhere. Until they do the sensible and keep the thread up until Sunday evening, I'll do everything I can to see the movie Friday evening. I'm intending to keep this a one only.
My name is Patrick.
Link: Long Live "The Young Victoria" (Salon)