Uploaded by Genie Lim

Avatar Film Meaning Analysis

Jake Scully, a marine who is paralyzed waist down, joins the ‘Avatar’ program in
place of his deceased brother. He travels to Pandora, a planet that contains
unobtanium (mineral), something the corporation that he works for (RDA) wants.
During a trip to one of Pandora’s forests, he gets separated from his group and the
princess of the Na’vi, Neytiri, saves him and he infiltrates their society, gaining their
trust to leak information to the Colonel. As time passes, he understands the actions
of Na’vi and converted to their side. The humans decide to launch an attack on the
Na’vi because they see no chance of them relocating peacefully. In the end, the
Na’vi won and the humans were sent back to Earth.
One of the meanings I have detected in the film is explicit meaning. Since the explicit
meaning of a film equals to the moral of the story, what the message implied is that
being greedy, selfish and unkind would lead one to nowhere but unhappiness and
bad karma, whereas being compassionate, respectful and humble will lead one to
prosper and success.
The RDA ignores the inhumane actions of the Colonel because they refuse to
acknowledge that they are doing evil, for the sake of financial gain. This shows that
they have a lack of moral values and ethics as they selfishly only seek power and
money. They have no respect for the natives and their heritage. In the end, the
humans are forced to be sent back to Earth after they have lost the battle. The
Colonel, who has no care for indigenous life forms, would do anything to take control
of the foreign land, claiming more territory. This is seen in his eager decisions to
ruthlessly command his army to kill without reason, claiming that it is for the greater
good of humanity. The Colonel was motivated by imperialism, and he believed that
the humans are the more superior race. He dies in the end, despite being
resourceful and smart. This shows that his cruel acts came back to bite him.
On the other hand, the Na’vi have always lived peacefully and are content with what
they have. For example, they are in harmony with nature and each other, even
apologizing for the lives they have taken for survival. This is effectively conveyed
through the use of dialogue in the scene where Neytiri showing remorse for killing
the wild animal that attacked Jake. They always have their people in mind and in the
end, they won the battle and were able to continue life peacefully.
The second meaning would be implicit meaning. We can infer that violence is not the
solution to anything as that will only bring pain and destruction, and the only way to
solve an issue would be through communication. This is effectively conveyed
through the use of symbols and film elements such as sound and mise-en-scene
(facial expressions and body language).
One symbol that showcases the importance of communication would be the Avatar
suit. It is a symbol of an attempt to form a connection with a unique group that have
different beliefs and cultures. As we know, because of the Avatar, Jake was able to
understand the actions of the Na’vi, and that forms a relationship between the two
groups, establishing a common notion and ensures peace.
As for the film element sound, diegetic sound like dialogue is used. For example, the
first mass fighting scene. When the natives realised that their traditional weapons do
not work against the guns the humans have and the humans are killing them off
quickly, they let out screams of terror for their lives and cries of anguish for the ones
they have lost. Also, when Mo’at released Jake and Grace, she told them if they
were one of them, they need to stop the humans. We are able to hear the
desperation and emotions in her voice. Musical scores that are contrapuntal sounds
are used as well. Melancholy music was used in the first fighting scene. This
contrasts with the nerve wrecking mood and fast pace of the scene. By using this
type of music, we can focus on the emotion (agony) that we are supposed to feel.
These effectively convey the message that violence brings sorrow and pain, and
hence this method should be avoided.
As for mise-en-scene, the implicit meaning is conveyed through the facial
expressions and body language of the Na’vi. For example, the facial expressions of
them during their retreat from the first battle. Their faces showcased their fear and
realisation that they were doomed. This evokes feelings of anger and frustration from
the audience, directed at the human race, implementing the idea of anti-violence into
the audience.
As for body language, we can tell that the Na’vi have accepted Grace and Jake into
their society through their heart-warming attempt to perform the ritual to transfer
Grace’s soul into her avatar from her dying human body. Their body language was
sincere and energetic yet urgent. This shows that communication can forge strong
bonds and trusts, efficiently solving a misunderstanding without much conflict.
The third one would be symptomatic meaning. The film explores the subject of race,
a relatable current issue, that we are all the same, deep down. In the film, Jake fell in
love with Neytiri, and vice versa. By falling in love, they look past their colour and
cultural differences, seeing only their heart and ethics. For example, Neytiri does not
care that Jake is human and she will receive criticism, loving him for his character.
This shows that our skin and other physical differences do not matter, in the end we
have the same hearts and feelings.
They explore the theme of racism. We can detect racist actions from the civilised
humans that are taken against the indigenous natives, under the disguise and belief
that they are making the lives of the natives better. This condescending attitude that
seem harmless is prevalent in the society now. The displacement of indigenous
tribes has been happening for years (for example, the white man saves helpless
primitive natives which in reality, is just stripping the natives of their resources). The
movie shows the natives as people unable to fend for themselves and require the
help of white people.