In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Avatar: The Way of Water, we look at important motifs that help us understand the film.
Important motifs in Avatar: The Way of Water
This is an obvious one but the first Avatar emphasized the land, specifically the jungle. And Way of Water transitions us from the forests of Pandora to the ocean. Through the Metkayina culture, water becomes infused with concepts relating to life and death, darkness and light, and the connection between all things. It’s similar to the forest but unique in its own way.
Neytiri’s bow is something given to her by her father. A family heirloom representing generations and legacy. It’s crafted from wood of the Omaticaya Hometree. As Neytiri starts this new, strange adventure, the bow is her connection to the life she had known for so long and the tribe she left behind. But by the end of Way of Water, the bow breaks. It’s not a dramatic moment but it does occur close to the death of Neteyam. Both losses indicate a crossing of the threshold. Things can never go back to how they were. Neteyam can’t be revived. The bow won’t ever be the same.
As sad as that is, it’s part of the theme of next chapters. And sets up the total conversion of Jake and Neytiri to the Metkayina culture, to the way of water. We’ll see if she gets some sort of hybrid weapon in the third Avatar or a completely new bow or something.
Technology is once again presented as a terrifying thing. The spaceships that bring the humans burn away miles of forest and incinerate countless animals. The only way the whalers can poach tulkun is because of advanced technology. The reason the humans can’t get close to the Omaticaya hiding in the Hallelujah Mountains is because the ikran (the mountain banshees) swarm the human ships and rip them apart. It’s only when the humans turn some of their own into Na’vi that they make any progress. And part of the progress only happens because Quaritch has his team go “full Na’vi” and abandon some of their technology.
Of note, is that early in Way of Water, Lo’ak tries to get Neteyam to raid a cache of human weapons. They’re prevented from doing so. Then at the very end, they finally pick up a gun and use it. The exchange of fire results in Neteyam’s death. To be fair, Jake often uses a human weapon. But he was originally human. It’s a bigger deal for his children to cross the threshold and begin using human tech.
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