Avatar vs. Aftershock




Watching Aftershock was fairly rewarding. One of the main points of this course was to gain cultural understanding through the medium of film, and I believe this assignment was to that end. My partner, Lucia, chose a film that I felt to be exemplary of a variety of traits which were worth examining as pieces of the construction of Chinese culture through the discourse of film. In comparison with Avatar, it was interesting to find that through all the more obvious thematic dissimilarities there was still an underlying parallel to be found in each.




For those of you who haven’t seen Aftershock, here is a short trailer.

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Comparison Analysis

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 12.50.14 AM To the left are listed themes I found to be dissimilar in each. The two films were not chosen based on thematic correspondence (otherwise there may not have been quite so many dissimilarities). For example, Avatar is more of a speculative film film in the sense that it is a science fiction that takes place far into the future, while Aftershock commemorates an actual event, the Tangshan earthquake of 1976.

Me rambling through the list

However despite these surface level differences, an unexpected underlying thread of escapism and denial managed to stitch the films together.



Escapism and Denial

Jake spends time in his Avatar body, which allows him to escape from the reality of his disability, while Fang Deng refuses to search for her mother because she chose to save her brother instead of her, and denies her former identity by changing her name. Throughout the film she clings to this childish resentment, and only at the very end does she apologize.

My Impression of Aftershock

Intrigued by Li Yuanyi’s self denial. Praise of breaking status quo.


Her reaction to Avatar

Highlights of Avatar, including some of what Lucia considered to be her favorite section of the movie – the plot development between Neytiri and Jake.