Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Avatar and the Goddess
When Glen, the kids, and I arrived at Cinemagick to wait in line for a computer to print our pre-bought tickets to James Cameron's Avatar, the show was already sold out—like every showing since it opened. It was probably even worse because we’d decided to splurge 2 more bucks per ticket to see the Imax
version in addition to the basic 3-D. We scrambled to get there earlier than I’ve ever arrived at a movie and still couldn’t find four seats together. So once we settled in our comfy Imax seats wearing those funky glasses and had the slightly-scary experience of a couple of 3-D previews, I was feeling a bit defamiliarized. . .
. . . and not prepared to find, embedded in the usual action film, much in the movie deeply and surprisingly familiar. A culture that treats the interconnected energy of life with respect. Women as spiritual clan leaders. A scientist's dying words, “I’m with Her. She’s real.” In this thealogy, the Goddess “cares for the balance of life.” They call Her the “All Mother,” and men as well as women live as if, in the words of the song, “we all come from the Goddess.” Even the planet’s name, Pandora, is believed by scholars Charlene Spretnak and Merlin Stone to have referred to an original form of the Great Goddess before the later myth demoted her to the curse of mankind.
Cameron borrows from scads of movies, from “Tarzan" and "Dances With Wolves" to “Castle in the Sky” and “Lord of the Rings,” but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Goddess-centered culture depicted so coherently in any film or at least any big-budget film. Have you? It was a wild experience—albeit nowhere as intense as visiting the Museum of Heraklion in Crete and basking in the subtle, sophisticated, and shockingly fresh art of a real Goddess-based civilization.
Yule shopping in our local pagan store last week, I noticed as often before the dearth of serious quality in pagan and goddess-centered art (Mayumi Oda one obvious exception, and please comment here if you know of others!). Cameron’s movie is characterized by an oddly compelling sort of strange ugliness, and, though there is rhythmic chanting in the untranslatable native language, goddess poetry is notably absent. Watching it makes me want to continue to help fill that gap. . .