Reading Between the Lines: First Image of James Cameron’s Avatar

Even if acclaimed director James Cameron has been saying that he’ll be open in discussing the making of his latest science fiction 3D animation-powered opus Avatar, there is still not much to chew on while we wait for the movie to air at the end of the year this December. Now, a fully processed image has been released for the entire World Wide Web to see.

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Featuring notable actors such as Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) and Sigourney Weaver (Aliens franchise), one can see that Avatar is deeply rooted in science fiction. That’s not to mention how James Cameron broke into the scene by developing the actual Terminator franchise while melting hearts over with Titanic. So with this single image, people are safe to up the hype and talk about its possible merits early on.

For starters, Avatar will tell the story of the ex-Marine Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) who has paralyzed lower extremities during a fierce combat in the Planet Earth. The Avatar program is at hand to give him a healthy body. But this comes with a major caveat. He has to travel all the way to space to visit the world of Pandora.

Similar to Earth, Pandora is a very captivating environment with a rainforest appeal and it is filled by creatures both beautiful and despicable. One standout race is the Na’vi, a breed of humanoids which seem primitive on the surface but actually possessed a high evolutionary mental state from humans. These Na’vi are about ten feet tall and with shiny blue skin.

Humans have long seen Pandora as a valuable cache of mineral resources and thus they endeavored to conquer its grounds by recruiting through the Avatar program. Because it is physically impossible for humans to breathe in Pandora, they developed Avatars which are hybrids of men and Na’vi. Jake Sully was one of those recruited to wear the Avatar but he steadily falls in love with one resolute Na’vi: Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana).

What’s notable with this seemingly new film is that James Cameron actually prepared the initial treatment from as far back as 1995. Cameron wrote an 80-page treatment with inspiration from every single science fiction book he read as a kid. In fact, Avatar was supposed to be the follow-up film to the massive hit that was Titanic. He even planned to use synthetic, computer-generated actors for the part.

It didn’t push through however and after ten years, Cameron was reported to be working on two film titles – Project 880 and Battle Angel. Cameron chose to prioritize Project 880 and it was later revealed to be an improved version of Avatar. With the technological advances of 3D animation and computer generated imagery, it was easier for Cameron to capture his initial vision for Avatar.

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Avatar will be filmed in 3D using Cameron’s own Reality Camera System. He strived hard in intensive pre-production and scriptwriting sessions in the first half of 2006 to visualize the look and the culture of the Na’vi race. If all goes well, we can expect a trilogy from Cameron.

Let’s hope this one’s a real trilogy, not like the Terminator franchise wherein a different director was tasked to create the third film, which expectedly bombed.

As for Cameron’s own Reality Camera System, Cameron describes it as: “If I want to fly through space, or change my perspective, I can.” Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and George Lucas – all big names besides James Cameron – already visited Cameron in action while he previews this camera system.

If it was able to attract all those big-name directors, then we know that we are onto something special here with Avatar. Judging by the initial image alone, we are about to immerse in a completely different world and culture that is the Na’vi race in planet Pandora.

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