Of course I wasn’t the only one with my three-D glasses on with Avatar grossing in more than a billion the first week of its screening. CNN reported that hardcore fans of this eco-sci-fi flick, after returning to their urban lives, became so homesick for the unreachable planet Pandora they wanted to kill them selves. They could not sleep or eat because they wanted to return to this fantastical planet, which is in complete harmony with its humanoid inhabitants. They want to reunite with the tribe of the Nabu.
Documentary always exceeds fantasy. ‘The Story of the Weeping Camel’ shows a Mongolian tribe, which seems to live in harmony with nature, in harmony with camels to be more precise. The Gobi plains are more unbelievable than the Pandora rainforest and not even the biggest pothead animator could ever come up with a camel. The grandfather of the Mongolian family explains that when the gods created the world they had all these spare parts; a snakes tale, elephant feet, bearskin, a gooseneck, etc. and decided to create a camel out of it. ‘Not that story again’, his grandchildren cry tired of his rerun.
One of their camels has given birth to a small albino camel but she rejects it. The nomad family tries everything to restore the harmony between mother and child. Everything fails. So the situation calls for drastic measures.
The oldest and the youngest sons of the family are sent out (on camels) to go get a Mongolian violin player in a neighboring village. It’s a 3-day ride and since they are going there anyway they are also instructed to buy some new big ass batteries for some electrical appliances. In this endeavor the youngest son becomes infatuated by television while resting at a yurt of a family halfway the trip. The little Buda has never seen such an apparatus and is instantly hooked. They find the violin player and ask him for help. When he returns from his quest he keeps nagging his father for a ‘glass eye’.
A week later the violin player comes on his side span motor and plays a healing song for the camel mother, she starts to weep and then accepts the camel calf. The calf may drink her milk. The ritual has succeeded. Harmony is restored. In all this harmony of humanoid and nature the son of the family still gets his satellite dish at the end of the credits. The glass eye becomes a part of the family. Balance between human and camel isn’t enough to satisfy our needs.
I abhorred the cinematic portrayal of ‘Into the wild’. I loathed the guy mimicking Chris McCandless. Acting more holy then Jesus he embarks on his epic degeneration towards Alaska, into the wild, to spend time with Mother Nature. The stupid dreadlock could only survive so long because of the unexplainable derailisation of an old Greyhound city bus. The romantic dimwit dies in the end by eating very ecological but oh so poisoned berries. That’s going back to nature for’ya.
Gondry’s ‘Human Nature’ proves we can’t go either way. Hairy babes can’t always hide in the woods they have to go out to town to meet their mate. Lab mice have to escape. Pavloved scientist cant control their urges or their etiquettes just like ape-men cant become civilized or even return to nature. The second we are confronted with the comforts civilization has to offer us we become corrupted. Why go back to your dreary apartment when you could ponder in Pandora from the comfort of your cinema chair wearing three-D Ray Ban’s?
At least James Cameron shows us that the nature we long for isn’t real. Not lacking romanticism but very aware of the synthetic falseness of it. It is just as unobtainable as the mineral unobtainum the planet Pandora harbors. Mining for it is futile. We can completely reinvent it though. And with reinvention come to synthesis with (our human) nature.