When Our Powers Combine: “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” and “Avatar”
Does anyone stand a chance against the forces of corporate greed destroying and pillaging our planet with smog, smoke, and chimney stacks? Both FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992) and Avatar (2009) portray a world ravaged by technology without a Captain Planet to come to the rescue. (Don’t worry, we still have Al Gore.) James Cameron took multiple ideas from FernGully to creating his anti-technology, yet state-of-the-art technical masterpiece. Thankfully, there is no Robin Williams, although the idea of a comic relief-providing blue alien thing might have improved the appeal of Avatar among the younger and geriatric age demographics.
Preceding Avatar by more than 15 years, FernGully shows the alien love affair between surfer dude Zak (voiced by Jonathan Ward — think Zack Morris meets Bart Simpson) and his forest fairy girlfriend, Crysta (voiced by Samantha Mathis). This unlikey romance will be revisited years later by Cameron in his “Blue Creatures Gone Wild” sex scene, which I swear I have never masturbated to.
Aw, isn’t love grand? Shrunk down to her size, Zack bonds with Crysta, and most importantly gets in touch with something he has become detached from: nature. Both FernGully and Avatar demonstrate sexual relationships with exotic spiritual beings leading to spiritual epiphanies in the humans that fall for them. Jake and Neytiri forever!
In Avatar, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is an paraplegic ex-jarhead who escapes to another world where he can run and hunt and live again. Throughout the movie it is reinforced that this is a dream state to him, but isn’t this where we all came from originally? A hunting-gathering society?
Avatar shows a crossroads of human development where we can go beyond our own bodies into new worlds. When Jake Sully takes on the body of an indigenous alien, it is contrasted with the military soldiers that jump inside gigantic metallic robot bodies. Cameron questions whether we have become so detached from our own natural states. Also, both movies talk about trees…a lot.