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L’Osservatore Romano and Avatar


Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen Avatar, you continue reading at your own risk.


I have seen Avatar 3D IMAX twice. It draws the viewer in just like a fantastic novel. You can’t take your eyes off the screen because it is so riveting. The colors and the fantastic world completed by new 3D technology really allowed this movie to fill theatres night after night. It has set new standards in filmmaking in 3D, by combining sci-fi themes from Star Wars with the earthiness of Lord of the Rings. Combining the two of the most successful and popular series in such a way would lead to such a popular film. Also being able to create CG scenes while using more conventional and realistic camera angles to give the viewer a sense of reality. The shots moved like a camera and felt like a camera shot.


However, (the quasi-intellectual “but”) it has its weaknesses. The plot is predictable and as my father said, “cheesy.” The more its downfall is the content. The visuals were fantastical. The story it was capturing has complications. Not just literary or plotline complications. Not big wholes in the story, the story is complete despite its cheesiness. It’s rather the implication the can be drawn from the film. This is what the L’Osservatore Romano cites (Believe you me if I could find a copy of the article I would have cite, all I have is the AP reaction story).

I noticed from the beginning not only the strong reinforcement of earth worship but also a subtle touch of communism vs. capitalism, obviously in favor of the former. Now as Catholics, in my own opinion, we can enjoy a film that has fallacies such as these as long as we understand that they contain fallacy, but I’m getting off my intended point.

But maybe not, because when “Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship” one without faith or with a weak faith can become confused. The film showed the connection between intelligent creature and the world it has been given power over. There is a connection between humanoid and the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, the very earth from which all of life theoretical sprang. This is not much different from reality. We have been given governance over the earth, to care for it and to till it. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'” (Gen 1:28). One can extrapolate from the movie what the Holy Father has been saying. We must take care of the environment yes, but because it is a deity but rather because it has been set under our freedom of will as a child to a parent.

The capitalist vs. communist theme is also prevalent. Is it for the money or is for the people? Crazy military dude vs. Sigourney Weaver. Military vs. pacivism. It forces you to take a side with the bad guy capitalists or the eco-friendly, communal Navi. It’s not that simple. Nor should this movie which can stir up emotion, leaving reason behind, affect someone’s decision. I think on a some level it probably will. Capitalism does have its weaknesses, but done in a Christian Catholic manner it very much respects the dignity of each person. If done poorly, it leads to greed, selfishness, and much of what we have experienced these past few years. Communism, done always for the sake of community, denies the dignity of each person. They must be subsumed into the whole community like the souls into Eywa.

Film can have a great impact on people, but that is a post for a different time.
About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.

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