I recently read a Guardian article that speculated on the success or failure of James Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 movie “Avatar.” The article was mostly a warning not to write off the veteran director but I was struck by the author’s view that the main theme of the film was one of the “white saviour.”
While I think this is a legitimate view of the film, I also think it is an easy interpretation. For me, it was the White Saviour himself who was saved. How? I think one way to look at Avatar is to see it in terms of connections.
We have the connection of the Na’vi to their world and to each other. There is the connection of Jake to Neytiri and through her, he also develops connections to The People and their world.
The most important connection is Jake’s connection to his true self. We first meet a young man who defines himself in terms of what he does – a member of the “Jarhead Clan.” In the opening scenes as he watches his brother’s body being cremated, there seems a part of him that is frozen, or unreachable. As he learns the ways of the Na’vi, through the connections he makes, that part becomes accessible to Jake and, as he says to Neytiri, he falls in love.
The quality of connection to effect change is also important in psychotherapy.
The therapeutic relationship that is created between therapist and client, as research has shown, is the most important factor in determining the success or failure of the therapy. When people tell me that they tried therapy and it wasn’t for them, I often wonder what the relationship, the connection, between that person and his or her therapist was like.
The importance of finding the right therapist cannot be stressed enough. Why? Because like Jake, the special client-therapist connection allows us to begin to see our world, our relationships and ourselves from a new perspective.
Here are two links about the therapeutic relationship, or therapeutic alliance, that you may find interesting.