Avatar is a science-fiction film set on the distant moon Pandora, where a team of humans has come establish a mining colony. This causes a conflict with the indigenous Na’vi population, who want to protect their home from destruction. The protagonist, Jake Sully, is sent to convince the Na’vi to leave through the use of an ‘avatar’: a Na’vi body that he temporarily inhabits through a neurological link. As Sully immerses himself in Na’vi life and culture, he decides to help them defend their sacred home against the humans instead.
The film uses the image of the Na’vi and their relationship with nature to put forward a message of environmentalism. The Na’vi are portrayed like a homogenised indigenous people, and face struggles strikingly similar to settler colonialism/neo-colonialism struggles in the real world (Fritz, 2012). The forest itself is portrayed as a spiritual locus of well-balanced multispecies living that questions an assumed anthropocentrism. Additionally, the depiction of nature in the film is used to show a fundamental conflict between two systems of value. On one hand, trees are reduced to natural resources seen only for their financial worth, on the other, they are appreciated for their ecological, cultural, and spiritual values. It is a debate about geontological power that is characterising of contemporary times (Demos, 2020).