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Sad retreat back to the Eywa-tree

But this will not be a post about the tele-genic properties of this or that movie critic -- no!

I would like to simply say that the "theme" of AVATAR is shmaltz, pure shmaltz, and no amount of discussion by a very cool-looking Columbia prof will disguise that fact. No amount of clever technology can disguise that fact. The bones of any good/memorable movie is STORY, and I'm sorry, but the story of "Avatar" is nothing new. In fact, it is a big yawn. (ginseng, response to post, "Stephanie Zacharek talks with Charlie Rose," 4 February 2010)

Re: “The bones of any good/memorable movie is STORY, and I'm sorry, but the story of "Avatar" is nothing new. In fact, it is a big yawn.”

This point gets mentioned a lot. Worth a debate at some point here on Salon (story is a sum of all the experiences you have during the film, much of which is often invisible in simple plot descriptions). I respect that you experienced the film as a yawn, but about it owing to the story not being worthy FOR it not being new -- at least in regards to how others might be expected to react -- consider Morris Dickstein's take on films in the 30s:

Capra's populist simplicity showed up in the way he personalized social problems into Boy Scouts and bosses, heroes and villains. But the same approach enabled him to transform America into a vivid personal myth of archetypal simplicity, affecting humor, and elemental emotional power. Like Chaplin, like Dickens, Capra remained in touch with something raw and vulnerable in himself and his audience, a memory of humiliation, struggle, and inner resolution. The coming of the Depression gave it a more than personal meaning, and helped turn it into a not always comforting social vision. (Dancing in the Dark)

That is, for many people it's not primarily about it being new, but about it being relevant to their lives, to their current emotional needs. Cameron has given them something, though, of the you-didn't-know-this-is-what-you-were-looking-for-until-you-found-it variety, which strikes me as a combination of the already known, yet still completely unexpected. That is, the experienced truth of the matter, is that for many people it FELT new, even if it all it REALLY amounts to is sad/scary primal/populist retreat back to the dissolution-in-the-communal Eywa-tree.

Link: Stephanie Zacharek talks with Charlie Rose (Salon)


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