James Cameron's Avatar
In 2154, the natural resources of the Earth have been depleted. The Resources Development Administration (RDA) mines the valuable mineral unobtanium on Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system. Pandora, whose atmosphere is inhospitable to humans, is inhabited by the Na'vi, 10-foot-tall (3.0 m), blue-skinned, sapient humanoids that live in harmony with nature. To explore Pandora, genetically matched human scientists use Na'vi-human hybrids called "avatars." Paraplegic Marine Jake Sully is sent to Pandora to replace his deceased identical twin, who had signed up to be an operator. Avatar Program head Dr. Grace Augustine considers Sully inadequate but accepts him as a bodyguard.
James Cameron's Avatar
While escorting the avatars of Grace and Dr. Norm Spellman, Jake's avatar is attacked by Pandoran wildlife, and he flees into the forest, where he is rescued by female Na'vi Neytiri. Suspicious of Jake, she takes him to her clan. Neytiri's mother, Mo'at, the clan's spiritual leader, orders her daughter to initiate Jake into their society. Colonel Miles Quaritch, head of RDA's security force, promises Jake that the company will restore the use of his legs if he provides information about the Na'vi and their gathering place, the giant Hometree, under which is a rich deposit of unobtanium. Learning of this, Grace transfers herself, Jake, and Norm to an outpost. Jake and Neytiri fall in love as Jake is initiated into the tribe. He and Neytiri choose each other as mates. When Jake attempts to disable a bulldozer threatening a sacred Na'vi site, Administrator Parker Selfridge orders Hometree destroyed. Despite Grace's argument that destroying Hometree could damage Pandora's biological neural network, Selfridge gives Jake and Grace one hour to convince the Na'vi to evacuate.
Jake confesses that he was a spy and the Na'vi take him and Grace captive. Quaritch's soldiers destroy Hometree, killing many, including Neytiri's father, the clan chief. Mo'at frees Jake and Grace, but they are detached from their avatars and imprisoned by Quaritch's forces. Pilot Trudy Chacón, disgusted by Quaritch's brutality, airlifts Jake, Grace, and Norm to Grace's outpost. Grace is shot during the escape. Jake regains the Na'vi's trust by connecting his mind to that of Toruk, a dragon-like creature feared and revered by the Na'vi. At the sacred Tree of Souls, Jake pleads with Mo'at to heal Grace. The clan attempts to transfer Grace into her avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls, but she dies. Supported by new chief Tsu'tey, Jake unites the clan, telling them to gather all the clans to battle the RDA. Quaritch organizes a strike against the Tree of Souls to demoralize the Na'vi. Jake prays to the Na'vi deity Eywa via a neural connection with the Tree of Souls. Tsu'tey and Trudy are among the battle's heavy casualties.
The Na'vi are rescued when Pandoran wildlife unexpectedly join the attack and overwhelm the humans, which Neytiri interprets as Eywa answering Jake's prayer. Quaritch, wearing an AMP suit, escapes his crashed aircraft and breaks open the avatar link unit containing Jake's human body, exposing it to Pandora's poisonous atmosphere. As Quaritch prepares to slit Jake's avatar's throat, he is killed by Neytiri, who saves Jake from suffocation, seeing his human form for the first time. With the exceptions of Jake, Norm, and a select few others, all humans are expelled from Pandora. Jake is permanently transferred into his avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls.
In 2012, Cameron filed a 45-page legal declaration that intended to "describe in great detail thegenesis of the ideas, themes, storylines, and images that came to be Avatar." In addition to historical events (such as European colonization of the Americas), his life experiences and several of his unproduced projects, Cameron drew connections between Avatar and his previous films. He cited his script and concept art for Xenogenesis, partially produced as a short film, as being the basis for many of the ideas and visual designs in Avatar. He stated that Avatar's "concepts of a world mind, intelligence within nature, the idea of projecting force or consciousness using an avatar, colonization of alien planets, greedy corporate interests backed up by military force, the story of a seemingly weaker group prevailing over a technologically superior force, and the good scientist were all established and recurrent themes" from his earlier films including Aliens, The Abyss, Rambo: First Blood Part II, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He specifically mentioned the "water tentacle" in The Abyss as an example of an "avatar" that "takes on the appearance of...an alien life form...in order to bridge the cultural gap and build trust."
Cameron also cited a number of works by other creators as "reference points and sources of inspiration" for Avatar. These include two of his "favorite" films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where mankind experiences an evolution after meeting alien life, and Lawrence of Arabia, where "an outsider...encounters and immerses into a foreign culture and then ultimately joins that group to fight other outsiders." Cameron said he became familiar with the concept of a human operating a "synthetic avatar" inside another world from George Henry Smith's short story "In the Imagicon" and Arthur C. Clarke's novel The City and the Stars. He said he learned of the term "avatar" by reading the cyberpunk novels Neuromancer by William Gibson and Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling. The idea of a "world mind" originated in the novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Cameron mentioned several other films about people interacting with "indigenous cultures" as inspiring him, including Dances with Wolves, The Man Who Would Be King, The Mission, The Emerald Forest, Medicine Man, The Jungle Book and FernGully. He also cited as inspiration the John Carter and Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and other adventure stories by Rudyard Kipling and H. Rider Haggard.
Avatar's underlying social and political themes attracted attention. Armond White of the New York Press wrote that Cameron used "villainous American characters" to "misrepresent facets of militarism, capitalism, and imperialism". Russell D. Moore of The Christian Post concluded that "propaganda exists in the film" and stated "If you can get a theater full of people in Kentucky to stand and applaud the defeat of their country in war, then you've got some amazing special effects." Adam Cohen of The New York Times was more positive about the film, calling its anti-imperialist message "a 22nd-century version of the American colonists vs. the British, India vs. the Raj, or Latin America vs. United Fruit". Ross Douthat of The New York Times opined that the film is "Cameron's long apologia for pantheism [...] Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now", while Saritha Prabhu of The Tennessean called the film a "misportrayal of pantheism and Eastern spirituality in general", and Maxim Osipov of The Hindustan Times, on the contrary, commended the film's message for its overall consistency with the teachings of Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita. Annalee Newitz of io9 concluded that Avatar is another film that has the recurring "fantasy about race" whereby "some white guy" becomes the "most awesome" member of a non-white culture. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called Avatar "the season's ideological Rorschach blot", while Miranda Devine of The Sydney Morning Herald thought that "It [was] impossible to watch Avatar without being banged over the head with the director's ideological hammer." Nidesh Lawtoo believed that an essential, yet less visible social theme that contributed to Avatar's success concerns contemporary fascinations with virtual avatars and "the transition from the world of reality to that of virtual reality".
Critics and audiences have cited similarities with other films, literature or media, describing the perceived connections in ways ranging from simple "borrowing" to outright plagiarism. Ty Burr of The Boston Globe called it "the same movie" as Dances with Wolves. Like Dances with Wolves, Avatar has been characterized as being a "white savior" movie, in which a "backwards" native people is impotent without the leadership of a member of the invading white culture. Parallels to the concept and use of an avatar are in Poul Anderson's 1957 novelette "Call Me Joe", in which a paralyzed man uses his mind from orbit to control an artificial body on Jupiter. Cinema audiences in Russia have noted that Avatar has elements in common with the 1960s Noon Universe novels by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which are set in the 22nd century on a forested world called Pandora with a sentient indigenous species called the Nave. Various reviews have compared Avatar to the films FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Pocahontas and The Last Samurai. NPR's Morning Edition has compared the film to a montage of tropes, with one commentator stating that Avatar was made by "mixing a bunch of film scripts in a blender". Gary Westfahl wrote that "the science fiction story that most closely resembles Avatar has to be Ursula Le Guin's novella The Word for World Is Forest (1972), another epic about a benevolent race of alien beings who happily inhabit dense forests while living in harmony with nature until they are attacked and slaughtered by invading human soldiers who believe that the only good gook is a dead gook". The science fiction writer and editor Gardner Dozois said that along with the Anderson and Le Guin stories, the "mash-up" included Alan Dean Foster's 1975 novel, Midworld. Some sources saw similarities to the artwork of Roger Dean, which features fantastic images of dragons and floating rock formations. In 2013, Dean sued Cameron and Fox, claiming that Pandora was inspired by 14 of his images. Dean sought damages of $50m. Dean's case was dismissed in 2014, and The Hollywood Reporter noted that Cameron had won multiple Avatar idea theft cases. 041b061a72