Avatar Takes the Haitian Notion of Dedouble to the Silver Screen
Some people in Haiti say that they believe that a person can send a double of theirs on a mission. That double functions in the real world as though it occupies time and space. People interact with the double and cannot distinguish it from other elements of reality around them. Hollywood filled the silver screen with Avatar, a version of a story told countless times because whether in Haiti or in Hollywood the human imagination works in much the same way.
Avatar is a high grossing movie because it appeals to the human imagination as well as to the human heart. The film creates an entirely new world with never before seen creatures and humanlike entities. The humanoids are complete with religion anchored around their connection with their ancestors as a gateway to God. The humanoids lack the technology of their invaders but their moral philosophy is second to none.
Unlike in the real world where superior military might usually wins the day, in this film the writers show how mighty the pen is and write a plot that tilts victory to the humanoids on planet Pandora. The humanoids of Pandora manage to preserve their lifestyle despite the greed of their invaders who sought to deprive them of their mineral wealth as well as of their traditional lifestyle. This movie comes painfully close to the Christian conquest and evangelization of various people around the world. The parallel is not hidden. The invaders site the name of Jesus several times revealing their religious perspective and the humanoids appeal to their ancestors for protection against the barbaric invaders.
The story on the screen is as convoluted as what occurred in the era of enslavement and of the conquest of the Americas. No group of people behaved in a monolithic manner. Not all Christians were barbaric conquerors. Some gave up their lives to defend the rights of the abused. In Avatar, it is a group of invaders who changes allegiance and helps the humanoids succeed in defending their lifestyle and religion. In this way, Avatar succeeds in being a movie about human kindness triumphing over human greed, restoring confidence in humans of whatever faith.
It is because the story is as complex as real life that the movie unfolds over a long 2 hours and 40 minutes. In its complexity, it reveals the great philosophical underpinning of Vodou as practiced by the humanoids and yet a leading character in the movie makes a fleeting negative comment about Vodou and about European traditional faiths. But such is life. It is filled with ironies and different viewpoints. One of the things the movie does best is to encourage people to respect mother Earth, its trees, its creatures, and the diversity of its religious faiths. Avatar does all this well while exploiting the Haitian notion of dedouble.