The Courage to Fight for What Is Right
How Avatar Makes the World a Better Place
Have you ever witnessed bullying yet you couldn’t do anything but watch?
I first witnessed bullying when I was in fifth grade. My best friend turned her back on a special education kid, and the ripple effect soon took over the whole class. Some said that the special education kid cannot feel the malevolent isolation, the negative attitudes, and the jeering faces people do to them, but I don’t believe that’s true. Although knowing they have feelings too, I could not muster the courage to fight for the kid. As the semester progressed, I remained as a bystander — spectating, watching, waiting — until Mina, a transfer student, bent down her knees to tie the kid’s shoelaces for her.
Mina’s action sparked a different sentiment among the classmates, and it especially tugged at my heartstring. Her kind act made some of us introspect ourselves and decide to treat the kid with more empathy and patience. Up until this day, I still highly regard Mina’s integrity and determination to initiate the change. I figured such righteous and honorable spirit should be emphasized and manifested in medias to inspire the general public. This is why I think the trailer of the movie Avatar(2009) by James Cameron is powerful — it perfectly illustrates an inspirational story of Jake Sully fighting against a falsely ruled authority.
The trailer of Avatar by James Cameron follows the story of Jake Sully embarking on a mission on Pandora, a primitive planet far away from Earth. Through the use of a compelling soundtrack, the choice of dialogue, and the vividness of color on Pandora, the trailer reveals the greed of humans as Jake’s moral compass begins to sway. The soundtrack governs the pacing of the video and elicits emotional responses; the dialogue contrasts the ruthlessness of humans and the innocence of the Navi; the color scheme further emphasizes the beauty of mother nature and the need to protect it from materialistic benefits. By utilizing these strategies, the trailer effectively infuses hope and courage into the audience to stand up against the suppression of authority and fight for what is right.
Soundtrack: Pacing and Emotions
In order to convey the main message of Avatar in mere 210 seconds, the trailer utilized the soundtrack as the predominant strategy for pacing. The short movie trailer has three clear stages designated by three different background music. The first one, My Name Is Lincoln (0:00–1:05), is awe-striking, spacious, and uplifting, with quick tempos indicating a new beginning for our protagonist Jake Sully to embark on a new mission on Pandora. Accompanying the song, the camera explores the various wildlife and landscape of Pandora to further intensify the cheerful, exciting aura. The second soundtrack, Akkadian Empire (1:06–1:45), is deeper in pitch. With fast paced cello playing the melody, this song gives the trailer a more serious tone while the commander Miles Quaritch informs Jake about his mission to infiltrate the native Na’vi and persuade them to relocate so humans can acquire the rare energy ore underneath their tree. The heaviness induced by the song symbolizes the weight of responsibility and the invisible pressure upon Jake as he accepts his quest. The last soundtrack, Guardians at the Gate (1:47–3:31), consists mostly of chorus, gongs, and drumbeats — instruments widely used in ancient warfare. In combination with the battle scene and the echoing of Jake’s declaration of independence, it is made clear that Jake has determined to fight for the Na’vi and rebel against the ruthlessness of humans.
The emotional impact brought to the audience by the deft use of soundtrack is significant. Not only does the soundtrack reinforce the sentiment in respective scenes, but it also provides a smooth transition for the progression of the story. Its contribution help create the broader picture of the movie and develop the theme of the piece: don’t let greed and violence blind you from your moral compass.
Dialogue: Characteristics and Tone
It is important to identify the “Good vs. Evil” element in every movie, and normally, they are made apparent through the choices of dialogue. A character’s tone and diction have significant reflection on his or her personality. Let’s take a little inspection on the words the commander in chief, Miles Quaritch, uses for an example. Upon the arrival of a new group of soldiers, he introduces the Na’vi in such fashion:
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are not in Kansas anymore, you are on Pandora. We have an indigenous population called the Na’vi…they are very hard to kill.”
Interestingly, the first information we get from the commander regarding the Navi is their fatality. Failing to even provide a basic physical description, their habitual behavior, or any kind of social construct of the Na’vi, the commander reveals his true intention to obliterate the Na’vi as soon as possible and has no desire to negotiate peace. Furthermore, the corporate administrator of the energy ore mining project, Parker Selfridge, also represents the greediness of humans when he exclaims:
“This little gray rock sells for $20 million a kilo. Their village happen to be resting on the richest deposit, and they need to relocate. Those savages are threatening our whole operation.”
Having their eyes fixed on the monetary value of the rock, the humans view any obstacles, including the Na’vi, a threat to their wealth and success.
On the contrary, Neytiri, one of the Na’vi, depicts the innocence and helplessness of the Na’vi population when she trembles and asks, “You knew this would happen?” as she unravels Jake’s lie in being one of them.
The difference in dialogue contrasts the avarice of humans and the sincerity of the Na’vi, creating the polarity of Good vs. Evil in the trailer. This technique sways the audience in favor of the earnest Na’vi and nudges them to defend their homeland against the humans.
Color Scheme: Theme and Message
The vividness of color on Pandora illustrated in the trailer also contributes to the overall theme in a similar aspect. While the soundtrack and dialogue advocate for the protection of the innocent Na’vi population, the color scheme emphasizes the protection of mother nature. Under the same scope against materialistic benefits, neither the beauty of nature nor its people should be sacrificed. By decorating the trailer with bright-colored plants and wildlife, the visuals appeal to the audience and evoke reluctance against deforestation.
As the audience grow more and more mesmerized by the environment and attached to the animals on Pandora, the more resistant they are to the idea of destroying it. Through satiating the audience’s visual pleasure, the trailer is able to capture their heart in favor of preserving the natural environment, which aligns with the mission of Jake Sully’s rebellion. By stopping the advancement of the humans, both the primitive environment and the Na’vi could be saved from annihilation. With growing affection to the environment, both Jake and the audience gain yet another reason to confront the military.
Through the deft use of powerful soundtrack, effective dialogue, and captivating colors on Pandora, the Avatar trailer encourages the audience to challenge the norm and suppression whenever it is necessary. Overlapping the image of Jake Sully on Mina, I discovered that both of them are honest to their feelings and sincere in their actions. Despite the risk of becoming an enemy against the majority, they chose to follow their heart and do what is just. Their integrity and courage are remarkable, and they inspire people like me to do the same. Now, there are no identical scenarios, and manifestation of suppression differs case by case, but the core message is the same: Don’t let power or wealth stir you away from justice, fight for what you believe is true and right.
I am ready to remedy my mistake as a bystander, are you ready to fight yours?