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Avatar, reviewed by Jerry Katz


A review by Jerry Katz

I’m reading a book on conducting interviews and one suggestion for a print magazine interview is to hold the interview at the home of the subject. It’s an older book and an example is given of Fred Astaire. An interviewer noted that in Astaire’s home there were no photographs, mementos, keepsakes, or other reminders of Astaire’s past. Except for two Oscar statues quietly on display, Astaire lived in an ordinary home. You would never know it was the home of one of Hollywood’s most revered and appreciated stars.

The point was that one should note the surroundings of the interviewee, as they often say more than words. Clearly, Astaire lived in the present and must have felt burdened by tokens from the past. Anyone seeing him dance sees at once that Astaire was all about lightness and ease. Check him out here:

The advice of observing the surroundings I carry to this review. Maybe that makes this no review at all, but this is Avatar I’m reviewing so I think it’s okay to stretch and reach and see if I can pull everything together. Let’s look at certain surroundings of this film, surroundings I happen to encounter and notice.

I saw this film in IMAX 3D. IMAX is a Canadian invention begun in 1967. The first IMAX film was shown in 1970 and first IMAX 3D film was shown at the Expo in Japan in 1985. It was We Are Born of Stars:

“Using computer graphics, the film traces the development of life from the formation of atomic nuclei in stars to the molecular structure of water and DNA, zooming the audience through the five-billion-year evolution of our solar system.” [http://www.bigmoviezone.com/filmsearch/movies/index.html?uniq=124]

The history of IMAX 3D, therefore, is rooted in a film which connects the audience to their cosmic self, their biological self, their molecular self and which would, I imagine (I haven’t seen the film), give the viewer a sense of interconnectedness with literally everything. That interconnectedness and the intelligence associated with it, is what Avatar is about.

But let’s look at more of the surroundings of this film. I’m really indulging myself here as this review should have been finished by now. So on we go. Interconnections. Surroundings.

I had heard so much about Avatar, especially within nonduality circles, and had talked to several friends who had seen it, that I figured I better see it. I went on the Internet to find out the times it was playing. Then I bought my ticket online and printed it out at home. Surroundings. Interconnections.

Then I checked my bus schedule and walked to the bus stop and got on the bus which picked me up on time. Interconnections, interconnections.

The bus delivered me early, so I stopped into Chapters (aka Borders Books in the U.S.) and strolled amongst tens of thousands of books and accessories associated with books, the scent of Starbucks permeating one end of the store. Books are interconnections of themes and stories within interconnections of stores interconnected by computers, and all of it pulsing within an interconnection of interconnected supporting businesses and industries.

I haven’t stepped into the theatre yet but I feel I’m living the movie at some level. Avatar is about seeing interconnections and also the failure to see interconnections. The theme of Avatar is told in three words: “I see you.” Someone once sent me a book and inscribed it, “I see you.” The question is, who is this you? It’s the interconnectedness, the vast and deep interconnectedness, and the unknowable knowing that one is That.

It’s not hard to see interconnectedness. Anyone can see it in the Internet or a bus schedule or a military takeover. Avatar requires you to look at another person and to see interconnectedness as it was depicted in the first IMAX 3D movie. It requires the seeing of intelligence immeasurable and incomparable. I see you: I see nonseparateness; I see the immeasurable, the incomparable, the unknowable. That’s what the guy was saying when he inscribed that book to me. He’s a sage. What else is he going to see?

That’s the theme and message of Avatar. How was it delivered? Pretty well. Fact is, it was IMAX 3D. You could show an old sneaker in IMAX 3D and it would hold your attention for about 8 minutes. The movie was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but not a great film.

There is one more layer to Avatar. After the story was over I watched the credits and listened to Leona Lewis sing I See You:

There were about 3000 names listed in the credits. For me that was a back story worth seeing on the screen, a story in names. Here was yet another layer of interconnectedness, another sheath of intelligence.

And so I left the theatre and walked to the bus stop, my awareness filled with certain surroundings of the day. The most impressive and notable layer of interconnectedness wasn’t the movie itself. It wasn’t the rolling credits or the bookstore or the Internet. What was it? The running of the buses, the meetings of passengers, buses, and destinations. The coming, the going, the waiting, the sitting, the departing and arriving, that meant interconnectedness to me more than anything else.

However, seeing interconnectedness doesn’t require a display of buses or anything else. It requires seeing something, which in this movie is called “you.” This “you” is the other — whatever the other is — and you, at once. Our surroundings are deeply interconnected and saturated with intelligence and wonder. Those themes are what Avatar is about and they are delivered in a very entertaining way. The same could be said for the day, any day.

-Jerry Katz