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Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on Neytiri, in Avatar

I really did not want to put this in my Avatar review, so I will park it over here, since it is more book stuff than movie stuff.  This did not start as being such a detailed comparison between Neytiri from the movie Avatar and Suki, the character in the books I helped with. The books were my first project like that and I really got into it. I just saw Avatar yesterday and it made a big impression on me. Feel good impressions on different levels. I guess this is just personal observations I am sharing with anybody who wants to read them.


Neytiri is the Princess who falls in love with Jake, and he with her, in Avatar. For some reason I was thinking the character Suki, that I helped develop, was more similar to her than an objective look reveals. I am certainly not trying to compare John's or my work to James Cameron's work either! After thinking about it, some things were comforting that we seemed to get so many things right in our stories. Comforting in the sense that the things we worked on had the right elements for a complete story. John pointed out that the similarities were just the basic elements required for a romance for modern audiences.


I guess I was thrown by Neytiri being an expert archer, like Suki. Once my science brain came back on and my aw-how-romantic brain took a rest I was all "duh, she lives in the FOREST! She better be good with a bow and a knife too!" Suki is just a great archer as a hobby, but her great marksmanship comes in handy late. So, they are both archers by accident. Both characters have mastered their environments, but they are completely different environments. Suki is a city girl, for sure and Neytiri is all country. But I can't help but think that either character could be dropped into the environment of the other and the reader/viewer would believe them mastering their new surroundings.


They both have a serious side that can be lethal and a sweet side, like most anybody. But they are revealed in the opposite order.


Part of Neytiri's status in her world is from birth. She is the Chief's daughter and daughter to the spiritual leader of the tribe/nation too. Suki is a self-made woman. Her mother was not successful in business until Suki was out of the nest and in college under scholarships, fellowships, stipends and eventually her own Intellectual Property portfolio with licensing deals for her ideas. It wasn't because of her mother's social status, nor that of her late father.


A small thing they appear to share, even after examination, is they are both loners of sorts. It is more obvious with Neytiri, who is part of a tribal culture but she seems to be the only one in the tribe who goes off by herself. Everybody else in the tribe does things as a group. That is very appealing to a women like me and something that drew me to both characters as I got to know them. The independent woman.


The other huge thing was how Neytiri protects Jake, saves his life several times, protects him with her body when he is helpless or unconscious. Suki does similar for John, especially in Suki III: Never Let Us End, but the big difference is Neytiri was going to kill Jake when she first saw him. Suki wanted to get to know John and wanted to keep him as soon as she met him. The quality of the female character protecting her guy is a pretty powerful thing in romances. Have seen it often in movies and I am sure it is in the books my friends read. It works like magic on me and it seems to impress the guys too and it is common in reality, when a girl really likes her guy.


Both characters do teach their men a thing or two. Don't we always? Neytiri has to teach Jake everything. Suki has an easier time with John. John (the book character) is impressive to Suki right away and only builds on that. Suki's problem is getting John to notice her romantically. Neytiri has the opposite problem. Jake does not impress her in the slightest but he is interested in her right away. Only a sign from God (Eywa) stops her from killing his avatar as an intruder, another time when she is out by herself. She saves him from the wild beasts right after that, but only out of her spiritual belief, not out of like or affection. LATER, she starts protecting him when he becomes her responsibility and even later, when he is her guy, she protects him out of love. Suki is ready to save John, with lethal force if needed, on their second date, while he is standing up for her against a rude young man in a restaurant.


Like I said at the beginning, these are my thoughts 24 hours after seeing one of the greatest movies I have ever seen and Neytiri is one of the greatest characters ever. None of us who worked on the books knew anything about Avatar before the Suki series was published either. The paperback with all four books was available in November, 2009 and Suki I was published on Amazon Kindle in May, 2009.


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1 comment:

  1. Oh Suki . . .

    I do think Neytiri is one of the best female characters ever created, but the similarities between her and Suki are just elements that are common between strong female characters. Especially those who are love interests.

    If we had written Suki as also being a top rated racer, like the driver Donna in Suki III, that would corrolate with Neytiri being an expert in "operating" every animal of her world. But we didn't give Suki that trait.

    One thng that you noticed and I wasn't even thinking about, both Neytiri and Suki are the only characters in their circles who are shown doing anything on their own. I wrote Suki that way for the reader to learn about the character a little more quickly, fewer distractions. It wasn't even a thought that it also shows her inner strength, but I wanted her to have that too. Strong, independant woman, etc.

    As you observed, Neytiri is the only Na'vi character to do anything on her own, as far as I can remember from the movie too. Even when Jake is climbing into the floating mountains Neytiri flies up on her banshee alone to join the group of young men and women.

    The trait of independance, until they both find a mate for life, is really the only true similarity I see. Plus they are both beautiful, but there again, not identical and sort of a requirement for a character like that.

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