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  #16  
Old 10-28-2010, 11:37 PM
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I think the reason that Neytiri doesn't quite fit the noble savage is that she is not really portrayed to be uncivilised or a savage in the first place.

To me the noble savage clearly appears to be or is a barbarian at the beginning, but turns out to be more civilised as the story goes on.

But right from the first scene we see her, Neytiri is shown to be clever, thoughtful and compassionate. So it doesn't quite fit.

If any character fits the noble savage it is Tsu-Tey. While Grace fits the tragic hero quite well.
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  #17  
Old 10-29-2010, 07:46 AM
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Okay...
Jake is definitely the reluctant hero, he didn't plan on being heroic and just fell into it and changed sides because of his basic heroic nature. (He was a Marine after all, they all think they're heroes)
Norm is the side kick of course, but considering what happens, he's the 'crippled' side kick now.
And of course we have our stereotypical bad guys.
The very thing that we're pointing out is the reason why some people didn't like the movie. The archetypes were too obvious and out front. But look at Star Wars, Lucas made that movie specifically like the old 50's style space opera, what he calls a 'popcorn' movie. You go and expect the hero to succeed, fall in love with the girl and save the world.
Avatar is on the same track. Reluctant hero(Luke/Jake), side kick (Norm/Han), love interest (Leia/Neytiri), mentor/tragic hero (Obi Wan/Grace).
Now obviously they aren't a direct parallel. Leia turns out to be a love interest for Han instead of Luke...and there is a little bleed over between roles.
There are no new stories, only permutations of the old ones.
We've seen it before, but we like what we see now because of the setting and characters.
I never saw Dances With Wolves which is what most people compare Avatar to, but that doesn't mean that I don't recognize the plot and characters from other stories.
As I've said before, Cameron left a LOT of story out for the sake of time, which diminished the story greatly and left a lot of people disliking it.
The extended version will help flesh out the characters and the story but it is too late for most.

(Very, very long day for me, sorry if I repeated myself and others... going to bed now.)
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  #18  
Old 10-29-2010, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aihwa View Post
Which is almost the exact description of the "noble savage" hero type...


The point of it is that such stereotype is initially portrayed as completely the opposite.
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  #19  
Old 10-29-2010, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post


The point of it is that such stereotype is initially portrayed as completely the opposite.
"We have an indigenous population of humanoids called the Na'vi. They're fond of arrows dipped in a neurotoxin that can stop your heart in one minute, and they have bones reinforced with naturally-occuring carbon fiber. They are very hard to kill. As head of security, it is my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed."

And from the script, deleted from the movie:
Quote:
JAKE
How do we contact them?

GRACE
We don’t. They contact us. If they see
us taking our samples, treating the
forest with respect --
(pointedly to Jake)
Not trampling everything in sight --
they may reach out to us.

JAKE
Or they may skin us and make a drum.
From the above, we can guess that Jake himself probably DID expect the Na'vi to be "primitive beings" who are "fierce and uncaring," whether or not the audience feels the same. His perception starts to change when Neytiri comes in and saves his ass, of course, but we already agreed that "Noble Savage" does not fit perfectly, just that there is an element of it there. And none of us are asserting that use of archetypes is a BAD thing.
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You came back
How do you make up after you've done the unforgivable? Jake and Neytiri have a conversation in the wake of Hometree's destruction, during their first real moment alone following his return as Toruk Makto.

The Last Train Home
Fourteen years after the war, a lone spaceship appears in the sky. The former members of the Avatar program watch its approach expecting the worst, fearing for their adopted home. Then the ship lands. And suddenly, nothing makes sense anymore.

Five seconds too late
This is a different kind of Jake/Neytiri romance, the story that would've unfolded had she been delayed for just five seconds while trying to reach him following the fight with Quaritch.

Last edited by Sothis; 10-29-2010 at 07:49 PM.
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  #20  
Old 10-29-2010, 11:14 PM
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I am not convinced that Jake really matches the reluctant Hero. Usually a reluctant Hero is reluctant all the way through and is a hero despite himself. Prime examples of reluctant heros are Han Solo and Marvin from Hitchhikers. I still think Jake is more like the bold Adventurer, at least in his dealings with the Na'vi as he is actually quite enthusiatsitc about learning from them.

Although, Neytiri does have some elements of the noble savage, I think it is a very loose comparison. To me, the noble savage continues to be savage all the way through the movie, but often uses these savage tendencies for good. The best example of the noble savage I can think off is King Kong. Other good examples are Chewbaca and Conan.

I think Neytiri is a little unusual as she represents a people as a whole. Everything know about the Na'vi we hear from Neytiri herself or she is ever present. A similar case is Leia from Star Wars who is the embodiment of the Rebellion. While Leia lives, the Rebellion lives. Of course, Neytiri has much more depth than Leia.

Last edited by neytirifanboy; 10-29-2010 at 11:18 PM.
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  #21  
Old 10-29-2010, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post


The point of it is that such stereotype is initially portrayed as completely the opposite.
And as redpaintednavi just explained, it was. We only hear negatives of the Na'vi initially. Our first hint they even exist is arrows embedded in a trucks wheel's.
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  #22  
Old 10-30-2010, 07:07 AM
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Okay for those that haven't looked up the definition of 'noble savage' here it is from Wiki:
"The term noble savage originally expressed the concept of the natural man, unencumbered by either civilization or divine revelation. Although the phrase noble savage first appeared in the seventeenth century in Dryden's heroic play, The Conquest of Granada (1672), it became identified with the idealized picture of "nature's gentleman", which was an aspect of eighteenth-century sentimentalism."

You can read more about that definition on wiki for yourself. And given the definition, I'd say that Tsu'tey was more a 'noble savage' than Neytiri.
There are other permutations of that term but I'll stop there.

After some reflection, I'd agree that Jake isn't as much a reluctant hero as I thought. Think about Luke Skywalker, he craved adventure but never saw himself as a hero. Jake is more like an everyman who is thrust into adventure and heroic acts. It is only the gradual shift in his perception of the forest and his falling in love that changes his focus from 'everyman' doing his job to a hero.
Once he realizes all that had welcomed him was being destroyed did he break free of his own mental bonds and accept his path as a hero. He didn't think he was being a hero, they rarely do. His conscience calls him to a new duty to protect and defend his new home and finally cut the ties to his birth home and defend his true home.
So anyway... got totally sidetracked on that!
Sorry.

'The difference between a hero and a coward is the direction they're running in a battle.'
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  #23  
Old 10-30-2010, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aihwa View Post
And as redpaintednavi just explained, it was. We only hear negatives of the Na'vi initially. Our first hint they even exist is arrows embedded in a trucks wheel's.

That's not how they are portrayed though, that's the ayskxawng's understanding of them, we see how they are wrong as soon as we see the Na'vi, arguably even before.
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  #24  
Old 10-30-2010, 03:13 PM
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I think the noble savage is used more when the "savage" is brought into civilisation and becomes a hero through employing his natural talents and appying a natural sense of morals/ethics that have been washed away by a modern society based on ambition and accumulation of wealth. The best example I can think off is Crocodile Dundee and the more recent Tarvan movies (where he comes back to civilisation). But the most Classic example is "John the Savage" in Adlous Huxley's Brave New World.

Brave New World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The other main form are where the person living in Nature or as an outlaw end up saving civilisation or people from civilisation. Such as Conan, the Rock and Beastmaster and perhaps XXX and Riddick.

And thirdly, there is the noble savage who is also an anti-hero. A savage being who shows unexpected compassion and human emotion and gains the sympathy of the viewer. the best example of this is King Kong.

So on this basis, only a human can be a noble savage, because the Na'vi nether interact with or save human civilisation (at least not yet). so only Jake, or perhaps, Grace can really be the noble savage, but from the Na'vi point of view.

As far as Neytiri and Tsu-Tey are concerned, they have elements of the noble savage from a human point of view. But even then, it is incomplete. because they only operate within their own environment.

Jake does not really fit my understanding of the reluctant hero. To me the reluctant hero is trying to get out of the fight all the way through the story. In fact he specifically expresses no interest in the mission at all. Han Solo is the perfect example of the reluctant hero as he is desparate to just get the job done and get his reward. In the end, his conscious gets the better of him. another example of the reluctant hero is Spike from Buffy who ends up sometimes fighting for good just because that is the only way he can commit evil without hurting himself.

To me the definition of the reluctant hero is not deternmined by whether the person wants to be a hero, but whether he or not he wants to do the right thing. To me Luke is not an anti-hero because he wants to do the right thing and is motivated by compassion, love, etc. While Han is the anti-heros because he is motivated only by money. Han appears not to really care for the Rebellion or the Princess (although he comes to care for them all despite himslef).

To some Jake can also be the Anti-Hero. If the viewer sympathises with the RDA and their aims, the Jake would be seen as an Anti-Hero.

Last edited by neytirifanboy; 10-30-2010 at 03:17 PM.
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  #25  
Old 10-31-2010, 12:10 AM
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Thaty's not how they are portrayed though, that's the ayskxawng's understanding of them, we see how they are wrong as soon as we see the Na'vi, arguably even before.



Until we see Neytiri spare Jake, that's the understanding the audience is supposed to have. It's how the movie's designed.
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  #26  
Old 11-01-2010, 04:12 AM
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It's blatantly obvious that Grace, who supports the Na'vi more than any other human at that time, is in the right. To me, that gave me a positive impression of the Na'vi before I even saw them.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:35 AM
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It's blatantly obvious that Grace, who supports the Na'vi more than any other human at that time, is in the right. To me, that gave me a positive impression of the Na'vi before I even saw them.
Yes, but you may be biased. :-p

Anyway, even if it's blatantly obvious to the audience that Grace is "in the right", it isn't to the protagonist, and the movie is set up to follow the protoganist. To Jake, it initially would've been like yet another military situation against a hostile "other." I'm sure he does see that Grace supports the Na'vi, but Grace is a total bitch to him when they first meet (as much as I love Grace, it's true). Quaritch, on the other hand, is one of the first people at Hell's Gate who actually treats Jake with real respect, like he's a strong and capable force unto himself and not just a substandard replacement for his dead brother. Quaritch comes from a background that Jake can relate to, and he's the kind of guy Jake is inclined to respect. I'd expect he'd see Quaritch's perspective much more readily than Grace's perspective at that point in the story, and Quaritch keeps referring to the Na'vi as "hostiles" who only want to kill you.

Even if you ignore all that, Jake's quip about how the Na'vi might "skin us and make a drum" definitely seems to indicate that he initially sees them as brutal and uncivilized.

Again, I agree that the "noble savage" archetype does not exactly fit in the same way it fits King Kong or the other examples that have been cited. But you're saying it "doesn't fit at all," whereas I think there are definitely some elements of it there.
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Selected writings:

You came back
How do you make up after you've done the unforgivable? Jake and Neytiri have a conversation in the wake of Hometree's destruction, during their first real moment alone following his return as Toruk Makto.

The Last Train Home
Fourteen years after the war, a lone spaceship appears in the sky. The former members of the Avatar program watch its approach expecting the worst, fearing for their adopted home. Then the ship lands. And suddenly, nothing makes sense anymore.

Five seconds too late
This is a different kind of Jake/Neytiri romance, the story that would've unfolded had she been delayed for just five seconds while trying to reach him following the fight with Quaritch.
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  #28  
Old 11-01-2010, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
It's blatantly obvious that Grace, who supports the Na'vi more than any other human at that time, is in the right. To me, that gave me a positive impression of the Na'vi before I even saw them.
That's a very good point. The information about the Na'vi is ambiguous as best. And in fact, Selfridge and co only start really insulting them when they have conflict with Grace.

Also, Jake does not have a negative opinion of the Na'vi. In fact he has no opinion of them at all at the beginning.

Like others, I do believe there is a little bit of the noble savage in the Na'vi. But I agree it is tenuous at best and as I have already said, doesn't really fit the archetyp in my view.
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  #29  
Old 11-01-2010, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sothis View Post
Yes, but you may be biased. :-p

Anyway, even if it's blatantly obvious to the audience that Grace is "in the right", it isn't to the protagonist, and the movie is set up to follow the protoganist. To Jake, it initially would've been like yet another military situation against a hostile "other." I'm sure he does see that Grace supports the Na'vi, but Grace is a total bitch to him when they first meet (as much as I love Grace, it's true). Quaritch, on the other hand, is one of the first people at Hell's Gate who actually treats Jake with real respect, like he's a strong and capable force unto himself and not just a substandard replacement for his dead brother. Quaritch comes from a background that Jake can relate to, and he's the kind of guy Jake is inclined to respect. I'd expect he'd see Quaritch's perspective much more readily than Grace's perspective at that point in the story, and Quaritch keeps referring to the Na'vi as "hostiles" who only want to kill you.

Even if you ignore all that, Jake's quip about how the Na'vi might "skin us and make a drum" definitely seems to indicate that he initially sees them as brutal and uncivilized.

Again, I agree that the "noble savage" archetype does not exactly fit in the same way it fits King Kong or the other examples that have been cited. But you're saying it "doesn't fit at all," whereas I think there are definitely some elements of it there.
If Jake never learned to See, Avatar wouldn't be the first film where the 'protagonist' is actually in the wrong and you're hoping for them to fail. I've read such a story before. It was actually fairly interesting

I'm not 'biased', because those were my thoughts the FIRST time I saw Avatar.

The difference is, as soon as we see Neytiri, she's seen acting as a person would and not portrayed as simple, unintelligent or uncivilised as in this 'noble savage' group.

I really hate it when people feel the need to categorise everything and lump things together for being vaguely similar, especially if it would otherwise challenge them to think a bit
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
The difference is, as soon as we see Neytiri, she's seen acting as a person would and not portrayed as simple, unintelligent or uncivilised as in this 'noble savage' group.
Again, you make a good point. The first time we see Neytiri she is merciful and compassionate. Our initial view of the Na'vi is actually very positive. It is only when we meet Tsu-tey that the Na'vi look in any way violent. Even then, Neytiri protects Jake.

If anything, out inital feeling is that the RDA are the violent ones. Quaritch talks about hitting them hard, grace talks about how machine guns aainst them in a way that suggests that the Na'vi were probably not at fault for the incidenent and Selfride talks about getting them to move. With that background information, even the hostile way that Tsu-tey and Etukahn refer to Jake and the Skypeople in general is understandable from the viewers point of view. We don't really see a barbarous people. We see a people concerned about a hostile enemy, and with good reason.

I also read the Wiki on the "Noble Savage" and it doesn't really say anything to convince me that any of the Na'vi correspond to the noble savage. This is partly because the Wiki is flawed in that is does not seem to look at the noble savage at all in modern or contemporary literature of film.

so the more I think about it, the more that Neytiri and the Na'vi really don't fit in with the noble savage idea.
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