After the movie came out, many critics and moviegoers alike complained about the similarities between Avatar and films like Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas, films where the theme is “white man goes native”. Does anyone remember “Fern Gully”? A similar idea with an environmental (anti-deforestation) agenda. Cameron acknowledges thematic similarities to Dances with Wolves but this doesn’t mean, as many claim, that the idea was unoriginal or stolen. Stories and themes have been recycled through millenia and the fact that this is a familiar idea doesn’t take away from the movie (in my mind). Cameron didn’t invent the idea of an avatar, either. It is about the amalgamation of all the elements, the new story in this particular film, the acting and the visual spectacle. If it’s a great theme, it can handle being recycled and I’m sure it’s not the last time it will be.
To let James Cameron speak for himself: “I just gathered all this stuff in and then you look at it through the lens of science fiction and it comes out looking very different but is still recognizable in a universal story way…And I think returning to classic tales is a powerful thing.”
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