Camera Work and Colonialism in Avatar

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  • Topic: High-angle shot, Colonialism, Roz Kaveney
  • Pages : 3 (806 words )
  • Download(s) : 60
  • Published : April 9, 2013
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There has been nearly as much criticism as praise for James Cameron’s Avatar, which has been garnering the attention and awe of audiences worldwide since 2009. Many people spoke very highly of the film, praising its pro environmental warning message and stunning visual effects. Others found fault in its plotline originality and depiction of white and native races in what some thought was a clear neo- colonialist setting. Neo-colonialism is the use of economic, political, and cultural pressures to perpetuate or extend influence over underdeveloped nations or areas. While I certainly enjoyed this film then and now, I can see why some people might have issues with it being a stereotypical colonialist film. In fact, some would say Avatar simply uses a cookie cutter plot, and is basically a flashy re-release of an earlier colonialist film, Pocha Hontas. Roz Kaveney, of Strange Horizons agrees in part: “The most important and telling criticism leveled at the film—to the extent of causing some people to boycott it altogether—is that its central plot structure is a standard neo-colonialist one, in which the Pandorans need the help of a superior being, a white American, to survive and the story is about him, not about them. The argument is that, even granted that sometimes members of a privileged group renounce privilege, telling their story inevitably still privileges them above the unprivileged group whose story is not being told. (Kaveney, 2010)” I believe that unfortunately, the film does indeed pose a slightly pro white “messianic” colonialist message and this depiction of superiority can be seen throughout the camera work in the film. Camera work can influence a scene in many ways and is commonly used for the following: focusing attention, concealing and revealing detail, creating atmosphere, and suggesting character subjectivity. To demonstrate this, I will show and attempt to explain two stills from the movie which I believe send a neo-colonialist, pro- white...
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