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Vatican Says ‘Avatar’ is No Masterpiece

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican newspaper and radio station have called the film “Avatar” simplistic, and criticized it for flirting with modern doctrines that promote the worship of nature as a substitute for religion.
L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio dedicated ample coverage to James Cameron’s big-grossing, 3-D spectacle. But the reviews were lukewarm, calling the movie superficial in its eco-message, despite groundbreaking visual effects.
L’Osservatore said the film “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Similarly, Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”
“Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship,” the radio said.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that while the movie reviews are just that – film criticism, with no theological weight – they do reflect Pope Benedict XVI’s views on the dangers of turning nature into a “new divinity.”
Benedict has often spoken about the need to protect the environment, earning the nickname of “green pope.” But he has sometimes balanced that call with a warning against neo-paganism.
In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.”
The Vatican newspaper occasionally likes to comment in its cultural pages on movies or pop culture icons, as it did recently about “The Simpsons” or U2. In one famous instance, several Vatican officials spoke out against “The Da Vinci Code.”
In this case, the reviews came out after a red carpet preview held in Rome just a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square. The movie will be released Friday in Italy.
The story of the tall blue creatures who inhabit Pandora and contend with humans intent on grabbing the resources of their planet has made over $1.1 billion at box offices worldwide. Partly boosted by higher 3-D ticket prices, “Avatar” looks well on its way to becoming the biggest grossing movie of all time.
“So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions,” said L’Osservatore Romano, which devoted three articles to “Avatar” in its Sunday editions.
L’Osservatore Romano said the movie’s plot is unoriginal and its message not new. It faulted Cameron for taking a “bland approach.”
“He tells the story without going deep into it, and ends up falling into sappiness,” it said.
Vatican Radio did say, however, that “really never before have such surprising images been seen,” while L’Osservatore said the movie’s worth lies in its “extraordinary visual impact.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • cknuck

    I haven’t seen the movie so i won’t comment on the content and at first blush one might think, “it’s just a movie” but the truth of the matter we place value on a thing with our money. We as a nation worship money so where we spend the most money could be translated to a thing of worship. This is just one of the shallow messages we send to our children that helps mold them into the people they will be. I have a friend who is doing a movie, music and television fast in his household.

  • Henrietta22

    If where we spend our money in the movies means anything at all., Susan Bullock must be very adored by the public, as she has brought more money into the box offices this year than any other actress, ever! America likes to be entertained, to say that this is worship is a laugh. I didn’t know what Avatar was about, but if it’s about nature and animals it would be interesting to see. A nice change from men with their violence, and sexual escapades.

  • cknuck

    H can yiou describe worship?

  • nnmns

    I haven’t seen it either but I think there’s plenty of violence; I have no idea how much gore.

    the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.”

    Obviously we can’t equate a human with a chimp or a dolphin, but we should highly value chimps and dolphins and other clearly intelligent creatures for their intelligence. And when we finally contact beings we can communicate with and perhaps compare our lives and civilizations then we’ll really need to think hard about how we value living creatures.

  • Henrietta22

    Ck, can you describe entertainment?

  • nnmns

    What do you mean by “worship” ckunck?

  • cknuck

    nnmns in this case it is a level of value. Americans approach our addictions in worship. How does a football player earn over 100 million dollars or a movie gross a billion? Movie stars and musicians are gods to be worshipped?

  • pagansister

    I saw the movie in Tallahassee with family and I totally enjoyed it! It is beautifully done with the special effects and 3 D. The 3 D is not “in your face”. There are many levels on which it can be interpreted. As to the violence, nnmns…it has some, as there is an invasion by the greedy company that wants the natural resources that the planet offers. However, I’ve seem much more violence on TV.
    As to Benny’s comments? Isn’t this the same church that used to(and still may) print a list that told RC’s what they could see and what they couldn’t see? Like I take anything Benny says seriously. Gotta keep those folks under control and not let them see anything that might not be RC in thinking!

  • nnmns

    So cknuck you equate money earned or spent with “worship”. If that idea is widely accepted in your church it must take in a bundle. I’m with others who point out paying for entertainment is quite different than worshiping.
    As for a football player earning a ton of money, he’s paid based on his earning potential. His team won’t pay him that unless they think his play will bring in enough ticket sales, etc. to make it back. Maybe occasionally an owner gets too enthusiastic but it’s his money.
    If you want to complain about salaries complain about business executives who get gigantic salaries while making decisions that drive their businesses (and occasionally the US economy) into the ground. And their salaries are determined by other executives with no obvious relation to what kind of job they do.

  • cknuck

    nnmns whatever money my organization has or will acquire goes to helping people, though I knew you would try to slid that type of equation in there; low balling again? I will never agree that a ball player is worth the obscene sums they are paid today, and it is only the owner’s money because they overcharge. I have a friend who knows I like mix-martial arts and he will pay over $400.00 a seat to get me to go, I don’t know how they can charge that much for something I used to exhibit for free. we’ve lost something in our values along the way.
    I won’t disagree with you concerning some executives.

  • babymoses

    Jesus is coming back.

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