Avatar Film Promotes the Protection of the Seas

The land of Pandora: A place where banshees rule the sky, mountains float, and bioluminescent flora and fauna roam the ground. It has been just over 13 years since people were first able to see Pandora through James Cameron’s blockbuster cinematic success Avatar. His long-awaited sequel, Avatar: Way of Water, has not disappointed. Using advanced underwater CGI, Avatar: Way of Water delivers an amazing cinematic experience while highlighting one of the franchise’s biggest themes: environmentalism.
In 2009, when the first Avatar was put on the big screen, there were huge environmental activist undertones in the plot. Having humans come to an alien world to extract resources and ruin the natural beauties that the natives are willing to risk their lives for was a very clear nod to the horrors many companies and industries were inflicting on our very own Earth. Cameron himself said that while his movies are not going to give cold facts on Earth’s environment, he is trying to “stop the environmental denial and motivate people to work for change.”
This is a goal I believe he delivers beautifully in Avatar: Way of Water. The sequel’s plot line has many similarities with the original 2009 film. The audience revisits the central character Jake Sully who now has a family, and he once again has to fight against humans who have returned to colonize and extract resources from the world of Pandora. The main difference between this and the first movie is the setting. Viewers are briefly taken once again to the jungles of Pandora, but the movie quickly shifts to the islands that cover Pandora’s oceans. Here the audience experiences breathtaking scenery and special effects that bring the bioluminescent aquatic creatures and plants fully to life. Ultimately, James Cameron does more than just change the movie’s scenery; he also changes the environmental focus in a moving and meaningful way.
In the first movie, Cameron took his audience to the jungles of Pandora and the Omaticaya native people who inhabited it. Therefore, much of the environmental statements the movie seemed to make concerned the extraction of natural resources and deforestation. However, he shifts his environmental lenses from the land to the many environmental problems that plague the oceans. In the movie, this takes the form of the killing of the Tulkuns. These are whale-like sea creatures that are being massacred for their oily substance that prevents aging in humans. The horror of this in the movie is only amplified by the carnage and pollution the humans leave behind in the world’s oceans. These scenes really emphasize Cameron’s message to his audience that ocean pollution is something that affects not just marine life but all life.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, polluting our oceans is, and will, affect all humans. Plastics and chemicals that harm marine life will also make their way to humans, who then will experience many health and heart problems. Stopping the rampant spread of such chemicals and protecting our marine wildlife is the main key to a healthier, fitter world. Berkley High School junior Ari Perrault-Victor expresses how the movie’s environmental message affected him. “The film really impressed me with the natural wonders of Pandora and inspired me to be more actively involved in helping the environment,” he explains. A truly powerful film can entertain as well as spread positive change, and youth such as Perrault-Victor are proof of Avatar: Way of Water doing this.
James Cameron’s Avatar: Way of Water gives us a re-entrance to an amazing, breathtaking world. More than that, it allows us the opportunity to dream what our own world may look like if we all do our part to create a better and cleaner Earth, not just for ourselves but for the generations to come.