‘Avatar’ Movie, Chinese Reactions & Long Lines In Shanghai

James Cameron’s latest film, Avatar, was released in China on 2010 January 2. Many Chinese are familiar with and loved James Cameron’s previous famous film, Titanic
, which is still the number one most successful movie in history. Although Avatar or 《阿凡达》 (“ā fán dá”, in Chinese) has premier two weeks later in China than the rest of the world, it has become very popular and successful as many Chinese are waiting in lines every day to buy tickets to watch the movie.

The Chinese people who have watched Avatar have praised the amazing computer special effects, but this is expected. What is more interesting is how many Chinese people feel the story of Avatar is very similar to a controversial social issue in China.

In the movie, humans use violence to take the land of the Na’vi alien residents on the alien world of Pandora. In China, there are news reports and internet postings about local Chinese governments using violence to forcefully evict residents from their homes (to demolish the buildings and redevelop the land). chinaSMACK translated and reported some of these stories in recent months, such as  Woman Sets Self On Fire To Protest Demolition Of Home and Kunming Residents Believe In Brother Chun To Save Homes.

Now that you are aware of that background, you can understand the sarcastic reactions that many Chinese netizens have posted on BBS forums after watching Avatar

Comments from Tianya (1, 2, 3):


Strongly condemn the Western director for using Avatar to allude to China’s current situation!!


Avatar is the story of violent eviction and demolition [of people’s homes] in China.


The humans actually failed to successfully evict and demolish [the aliens]?
Truly embarrassing.
Why didn’t they send China’s chengguan there earlier?

“With the chengguan, the world is mine, hahahaha…”


On what basis/authority do they openly demand to leave the land and homes they have lived in for generations?


China’s demolition crews must go sue Old [James] Cameron, sue him for piracy/copyright infringement.


Stop making a fuss brothers!

Keep making a fuss and it will be banned like “Dwelling Narrowness“!

And then we will only be able to watch recordings of Mao Zedong.


This film is too reactionary,
encouraging China’s ordinary common people
to use violence to resist demolition!!!
[It is an] attempt to subvert the great China!!


I was shocked by the special effects.


I went to see the first showing of “Avatar” yesterday and was completely shocked! Pandora was so realistic, and [I felt I] could touch it…
After I came back, a coworker’s comment about the movie gave me another level of understanding:
“Avatar” shows the director’s deep understanding and concern for the (forceful) eviction and demolition [of people’s homes] in China!!


Seeing Pandora’s beautiful scenery, I think of the environment around me that has suffered serious destruction.
Seeing the main character’s dauntless energy in fearlessly raising the resistance against the powerful, I think of of the LZ and similar people reacting to society’s injustices only by hiding here [on a BBS forum] and spitting [their complaints].


Looks like American chengguan‘s characters aren’t that much better. Just using a beauty trap, he betrayed [his own].


Epoch-making masterpiece. China’s bullshit directors should go be their apprentice [go learn from them].


Recommend the Celestial Kingdom [China] quickly blacklist such inharmonious movies.


Towards [foreign] devils’ films I have always been critical. No matter if it is good or not [to watch], I refuse to go to the cinema to contribute to the [foreign] devils’ box office. I will keep my RMB to contribute what I can to the country’s economic development. Why should I give the foreign devils’ military funds my blood and sweat money, and then let them fly their planes carrying bombs terrorizing my land. I would definitely not do such a beastly thing.


“Avatar”, Chinese name “A Chengguan’s Vindication/Confessions”
District 9“, Chinese name “Director of Demolitions”
“The Matrix”, Chinese name “State Apparatus”

Welcome those below’s creativity~


EastSouthWestNorth has translated a few more reviews and reactions to the movie Avatar from some more famous Chinese people. Also see this new post by China Real Time Report (added 2010/01/08). More Chinese blogger reactions on GlobalVoicesOnline (added 2010/01/11).


Have you seen Avatar?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Unfortunately, I have not yet seen it and this is why…

From Liba:

My alarm was set for 7:00 in the morning, but I couldn’t get up, only getting up at 7:30, getting there at 8:15~ [Peace Cinemas in downtown Shanghai, by People’s Square, yesterday Wednesday 2010 January 6]

I was startled when I got there. By the time I was in line, the line had already turned four times. 吐血

There was nothing that could be done except stand in line honestly, but to tell the truth, this kind of spectacular situation doesn’t come often, all to watch a single movie… hoho~

It happened to be time for people to go to work, so the amount of people passing by were a lot, so basically everyone who passed by and saw such a long line felt it was very interesting and, after asking and learning that it was for a movie ticket, they all felt it was a little unbelievable, haha~ 晕

And what more, those buying tickets were basically all young people, which is also very rare because in the past, it always seemed that old people were the majority of those who line up. Of course, there were also a lot of older people, entrusted by their children to come buy [tickets]~ Poor parents, on such a cold day… 爱死你

By the time it was my turn, there wasn’t much to choose from, only morning [showings] and seats on the left and right edges of the middle 10 rows, so I bought them~!! My precious tickets~ 拍手 亲


Let me contribute a photo, taken this morning. 狂笑

The above photo is the Hersey’s World next to Peace Cinemas at Raffles City Mall beside People’s Square in Shanghai. Peace Cinemas is one of the few cinemas with IMAX. It is really difficult to buy a ticket right now and I have decide I must go see it in 3D IMAX. Therefore, I am waiting for the movie to cool down and there are less people later before I can go watch it. :(

From KDS, this morning on Thursday 2010 January 7:

A video if the photos are not enough to show you how crazy the situation is:

Some people like to show off their tickets:


[replying to the commenter who posted the above tickets]

Third row? Brother, I feel sorry for you! Third row, you’re just waiting to get a neck sprain, looking up like that. What more, the upper half of the screen pretty much will be completely unrelated to you.

2009 January 8 UPDATE: New pictures from KDS of people camping overnight to buy tickets…

Avatar movie Neytiri

Aliens to rescue. chinaSMACK personals.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.