Colonization and the Development of Technology

Out of all the movies ever made, there are four that I decided to compare and contrast as references to history and the future of the development of technology as it relates to colonization of countries and states. These four movies (Avatar, Her, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and WALL-E) came out at difference points in technological advancement and they display the continuing evolution of human beings and the digital world.

Avatar is a 2009 science fiction film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron, and starring several popularly known acting stars like Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver. The film is set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are colonizing Pandora, the moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system that just happens to be inhabitable, in order to mine the mineral unobtanium, a room-temperature superconductor. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi – a human-like species indigenous to Pandora. The film uses a genetically engineered Na’vi body with the mind of a remotely located human in order to interact with the natives of Pandora.

The film, Avatar, is representative of an action-adventure journey of self-discovery, in the context of imperialism and deep ecology. Imperialism is a type of advocacy related to creating an empire. The imperialistic era of the United States was demonstrated during the Manifest Destiny and policies like the Monroe Doctrine. The illustrations of imperialism seen in the film are in the examples of how the Na’vi lose their land to the greed of men who want the Na’vi land to claim as their own resources and property. We see how our society hasn’t really evolved from a careless view of conquering and quest because even in a new age where the development of technology that influences our decisions, we still find those individuals who are insatiable.

In Avatar, the references to deep ecology are used as an environmental philosophy promoting the worth of living beings regardless of their utility to human needs. This philosophy argues that human interference with or destruction of the natural world poses a threat therefore not only to humans but to all organisms constituting the natural order. This is shown in the film when the Na’vi have a war with the men working to destroy, conquer, and rebuild their land. The examples of deep ecology reference history in how the Native Americans lost their land to the Europeans who colonized and created a new world from the ground up.

However, there are also heavy influences from the Hindu religion in Avatar. In a 2007 interview with Time magazine, James Cameron was asked about the meaning of the term Avatar, where he said, “It’s an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form. In this film what that means is that the human technology in the future is capable of injecting a human’s intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body.”

This leads me to the next movie for comparison and interpretation, Her. Her is a 2013 romantic science fiction comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. It marks Jonze’s solo screenwriting debut. The film follows Theodore Twombly, a man who develops a relationship with Samantha, an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.

In Her, the colonization of digital society and the development of humanizing operating systems through the emotional aspects of psychology and technology are displayed. In this film, we are presented with the concept of technophilia: where individuals are in love with their technology; so instead of the illustration we’re used to about technophobia: where people think technology will surpass the minds of humans and rule the world. Which brings us to the philosophical question, “what does it mean to be human?” There are various point of views in which that question can be understand, answered, and resolved. However, one that comes to my mind is that somehow the Sci-Fi genre of film has been made smart again because of, Her. People are able to understand things more clearly and think of the hypothetical situations of what to do in the times where technology fails or exceeds its limits and becomes a problem.

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the computer, Hal 9000, after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution. The film deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. It is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery.

The film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is truly representative of both spiritual and scientific symbolism. It is believed that the monolith in the film would represent the trinity in Christian faith: the father (apes), the son (astronauts), and the holy spirit (the 5th dimension). It is also said to represent the scientific evolution of man from the simpleton ape who discovered that bones could be used as weapons to hunt for survival or to kill with intent, the astronauts who have evolved technologically but are still learning the basics of life in a new environment, and the mind or the spirit where man transcends to another dimension, not known to him before certain evolutionary changes.

We see the future though in WALL-E, a 2008 computer-animated science-fiction comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Andrew Stanton, the story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up Earth after the apocalypse in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task to find vegetation and plants. He follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of his humanity. Both robots exhibit an appearance of free will and emotions similar to humans, which develop further as the film progresses.

There is a background on the movie that refers to an article titled “Wall-E and the Environmental Apocalypse”which thinks that Wall-E does a good job at showing the future of the world as result of aliens, viruses, and/or environmental conflicts. Another article that is addressed in this study is “A Jetsons or WALL-E future”, which addresses the importance of maintain a proper balance of self-interest, moral priorities, and consequences.

It is clear that WALL-E was created to reconstruct a world that no longer existed. Eve’s colonization is shown through her programming to find rich soil to grow crops to make money for her higher ups.

This is how religion plays a part in having faith to pursue your goals through reform and reconstruction.