Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #17

Re: Avatar and the Meaning of Life

I found a kind of grim irony in the Avatar blues” phenomenon. Tolkien wrote in Tree and Leaf that one purpose of fantasy was to help us recover our sight or “clean our windows”:

By the forging of Gram cold iron was revealed; by the making of Pegasus horses were ennobled; in the Trees of the Sun and the Moon [or, one might hope, Pandora] root and stock, flower and fruit are manifested in glory.

It is kind of sad then that rather than helping viewers realize what an exciting world our own planet it is, Avatar has had the opposite effect on some (though not all; I recovered my sight of panthers, horses, and gunships).

Grim irony, indeed. In the movie’s own words:

Neytiri: Sky People can not learn. You do not see.

Sully: Then teach me how to see.

Neytiri: No one can teach you to see.

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