If you could live on Earth or Pandora, which would you pick?


Have you seen "Avatar," the new science fiction blockbuster movie from James Cameron, the creator of the Aliens and Terminator series? If you work with wheelchairs users, you might want to.

The main character in the movie is a young man named Jake Sully, a Marine and a paraplegic. Long story short: Sully, who uses a manual wheelchair,  joins a top-secret program that allows him to embody an Avatar and live an able-bodied life in another world called Pandora.

There are some pretty telling and touching scenes in the movie related to Sully and his disability. Here are a few:

  • Sully says his biggest motivators for joining the program are "being free" and having a "fresh start."
  • Sully says his spine could be fixed, but that "takes money," and he doesn't have any. (That's nothing new, huh? Money keeping a person with a disability from living the most independent life possible.)
  • When Sully wakes up on a stretcher as his Avatar in Pandora, he doesn't wait to stand up. He's held down by medical professionals and tethered to IVs, but he scrunches his toes,  jumps to his feet and, with a wide grin, starts walking then running.

While watching the movie, I wondered how wheelchair users would view it. I've seen a few blogs and articles by wheelchair users addressing this very topic. For David Morrison, for example, the movie got him thinking:

The idea that one can enter a world where there are no limits, no strange looks, no disabilities of any kind, and simply be yourself had me awe struck. Granted, technology may not be at that level for several years, but is this concept at all possible? What do you think?

Toward the end of the movie, Sully makes a decision to reside on Earth or Pandora. Which do you think he picks?

Liz Beaulieu



I am extremely flattered that you chose my article to include in this post. Avatar was truely an inspiring film and I hope I get some feedback from readers. Thanks again!

- David Morrison

[...] I had another eye-opening moment today when I read this commentary on Minnesota Public Radio’s Web site (for more of these moments, go here and here). [...]