James Cameron directed the film Avatar. On December 10th, 2009, it was announced. It is a science fiction film about humans who colonized Pandora in order to continue exploiting rare minerals such as unobtanium. Their scheme to extract the mineral endangers the Navi species because it necessitates the destruction of trees, including the tree of life, which houses the Navis’ souls. The book “How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Individual” explains the Avila people’s way of life, which values nature, including trees and animals.
There are comparisons between the film and the book that are portrayed. The Navi place a high importance on the tree of life in their avatar. It is believed that this tree carries the souls of Navi ancestors. The ancestors would gather around it to get special powers and be revived. The tree of life was sacred to the Navy community. No one was allowed to mishandle it or cut it down. The same treatment is given to the trees in the Avila community. It is believed that in both situations, the trees had feelings and inner thoughts that connected deeply with the animals and species that inhabited both Avila and Navi. This explains why Neytiris would easily connect with the trees to understand what they felt ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58V4FC0XjUA))
Another similarity in both the Avatar film and the book is that they have fierce animals that are feared by their inhabitants. In the book, the Tamanu Hua or the anteaters are the most feared animals. The same is seen in Avatar of how the wild animals are feared because of the poison they carry. The wild animals protect themselves from any harm and they coexist in harmony. In both, the plants and animals have a way in which they communicate. A good example is when Neytiris hair will join with the extensions of the tree of life so that was able to communicate with the ancestors. The connection between her and nature explains a significant role each played in their specific areas. Seeing deeply is an explanation of the things that happen outside the human imagination. A normal human being cannot know what a tree is undergoing, but the two explain to us the inner thoughts of what happens beyond the human imagination (Descola 267).
The ecology that surrounded Avila was semiotic in the sense that each animal or plant depended on the other for harmony and survival. The same is seen in Navi where the community depended on each other, whether plant or animal. This phenomenon is well demonstrated by the Navi people when they protect their ecosystem because the destruction of the trees meant death to their species. This destruction also meant the loss of connection with the ancestors. Another special similarity that is depicted in both the movie and the book is the rare minerals which were found in the tree of life and the flying ants. In Avatar, unobtanium was a rare mineral that was needed for the RDA mining operation. The same is depicted in the book whereby the flying ants were needed by the Avila people (Kohn 73).
Conclusively, it is noted both the book and the movie have some similarities that represent different things to appear common. In both, there is the need to protect life, whether of a plant or an animal. In both, there is also the need to ensure balance and harmony for the sake of continuity of life and connection with ancestry routes. From the two different texts, it is evident that there are things that human beings can ignore but they are very important because they promote coexistence and create a perfect balance between human beings, animals, and nature. Both the film Avatar and the book How forests think: Towards an anthropology beyond the human have brought out a great significance of concern for the non-human objects.
Avatar. Dir. James Cameron. 20th Century Fox. 2009. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58V4FC0XjUA)
Descola, Philippe. “All too human (still): A comment on Eduardo Kohn’s how forests think.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4.2 (2014): 267-273.
Kohn, Eduardo. How forests think: Toward an anthropology beyond the human. California, CA: University of California Press, 2013.