The flight scene in Avatar - Departure for Pandora is one of the most popular and famous moments of the blockbuster. But have you ever noticed how brutally the Na'Vi deal with their mounts? And that this treatment runs counter to the values of the film?
Let's call the child by name: We witness cruelty to animals. Yes, torture on CGI beings, but that doesn't matter here.
Animal cruelty in Avatar: what exactly happens in the scenes?
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) learns the customs of the Na'Vi and now it's time to tame his very own dragon, also known as Mountain Banshee or Ikran.
The very basis of the relationship between Na'Vi and animals is maximally toxic. Like every Na'Vi, Jake chooses the dragon who will react most aggressively and negatively to him. Great.
The Mountain Banshee then tries to kill him. If he or she fails to do this, a "special bond" arises. In other words, if a Na'Vi wants to get a kite, "No" really means "Yes". And it only gets worse afterwards: the will is completely robbed of the animal.
Here you can watch the kite scene
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Because Jake literally creates the "connection": He forcibly connects the - let's call them cables - of animal and rider. The animal, which previously thrashed about, becomes catatonic, even stunned. Not that cool, is it? The first joint flight now seals the "bond" between Na'Vi and the dragon. (Sorry, I can't stop putting "fret" or "connection" etc. in quotes in this context.)
The animal doesn't want any of this. It doesn't want a Na'Vi who has run along to sit on its back. And it certainly doesn't feel like this Na'Vi hooking his tail with his tail. I can hardly imagine anything more intimate. Jake accesses the dragon's nervous system to gain control over his motor skills. I would protest too.
Even in our culture, such taming or submission rituals between humans and animals are not nice to look at, at rodeo for example. In the Na'Vi culture, however, the process seems downright absurd.
In the podcast we check how well Avatar has aged
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The Na'Vi love and honor animals - why do they violate them?
In the Na'Vi culture, animals and plants are almost on a level with the ruling, upright species. The Na'Vi have a particularly sensitive relationship with the flora and fauna of their planet. They are in constant contact with everything that crawls and flies around them. The harmony with nature controls your entire moral and ethical compass.
Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) extensively honors a predator she killed in battle. She corrects Jake when he grumbles delicate plants like a clumsy five-year-old. How does it all fit in with the brutal submission of the animals?
Cruelty to animals in Avatar: This is how the "double standards" can be explained
What I find most exciting is the language the Na'Vi use to justify the taming of their dragons. Their logic: Without the desperate struggle of the animal for its freedom, the intimate bond would not be possible. So, of course, you can also say it nicely. (More: When is Avatar 2 - Reasons for the Delay)
The explanation even makes sense, but makes the otherwise pure Na'Vi look a bit mendacious. Right? Oh well. Who knows how long the Na'Vi live in their evolved world system with its achievements, amenities - and mistakes.
Can the dragons in Avatar ever live without torture?
The Na'Vi depend on the dragons. They use them as a hunting tool and a means of transport. In this context, their submission is a necessary evil.
The ritual has seeped into the culture over time, so that the people no longer reflect its cruelty at all. We have only been questioning factory farming and chick shredding in public for a few years.
What I want to say: The Na'Vi may torture animals, but that does not call into question their entire, thoroughly nature-conscious attitude. This people can be nature-friendly Goldmovies torture animals at the same time.
The kites serve as a vehicle for breathtaking flight sequences in the film. Making the animals docile and degrading them to living, flying motorcycles makes sense within the overwhelming aesthetic of director James Cameron. Avatar wants to enable its viewers to experience Pandora completely. Compassion for kites is more of a nuisance.
But we have become more sensitive to animal fates over the past 11 years. It will be exciting to see whether Avatar 2 will reconsider the brutal treatment and, at best, adapt it. We already know that Avatar 2 features underwater dragons that are also used as mounts.
Film and the Na'Vi people can ask themselves: Is the violent submission process really absolutely necessary? Or are there possibly more animal-friendly, more ethical variants of this ritual?
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