When it comes to the thinly-veiled political message in James Cameron's mega-blockbuster Avatar, there may be no more authoritative commentary than that of indigenous Amazonian communities. One doesn't have to dig deep to see that Pandora—the lush and richly imagined alien world of Cameron's invention—mirrors what's left of the Amazon: its biodiversity, its destruction, and its inhabitants' struggle for cultural survival.
Members of indigenous groups from Ecuador's Amazon region recently hopped a bus to Quito, where they strapped on the 3-D goggles and offered some personal takes on the film.
"So good. Very, very good," said one movie-goer, "to be able to reflect and see that the basis of the struggle is not sporadic, but rather a deep struggle—a struggle for the dreams of our ancestors."
Blanca Chancoso was more critical, putting a finger on Hollywood's penchant for shoot-'em-up diplomacy: "In the movie, it doesn't show dialogue," she says. "It shows war. It's as if the only solution is war—and to begin with, we see that the conflict is not resolved because everything is left destroyed. And at the same time, human lives were lost. So I believe there should be another message."
Fran Korten's take on whether the movie shows a real path to cultural transformation.