I watched Avatar with my family on New Year’s Day and highly recommend it.  One of my friends described it as a futuristic Pocahontas story that ends well for the natives.  He also found it amusing that the substance for which mankind was willing to lay waste to the beautiful moon of Pandora was called unobtainium.  Spoilers ahead.

I was thinking about the parallels to Pocahontas as I watched it.  And that, of course, made the happy ending seem terribly uncertain after all.  Half a dozen early American colonies failed and yet Europeans kept coming, even though North America never boasted any single resource vital to European needs.  As my daughter’s boyfriend pointed out, if humanity had so destroyed our Earth that we required a substance for our energy needs that was only available on Pandora, we would return and poison the place if necessary to kill off all life and extract what we needed.  The leaving of the humans from the pristine moon at the end of the movie seems like a regrouping rather than a final retreat if we consider humanity’s history.  Can we learn?  Is there a way that we can learn to live with respect for the environment we rely on?

Various groups of humans have lived in relative harmony with their environment even for extended periods of time.  Can that become a human norm?

The movie is visually stunning and crafted with astounding effects.  Pandora is sumptuous and glittering.  The storyline is also compelling, and reminds us constantly of parallels to life on Earth today.  Even my hypercritical 14 year old brat enjoyed it, and approved almost uncritically.

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