Image via SlashFilm
This is a response to my past self, who is a naive apologist for James Cameron. You, my past self should get over your old self and realize you just don’t know what is really going on. James Cameron didn’t just cut bacon on the myth story, he most ostensibly ripped off a specific author. Namely Poul Anderson and his story Call Me Joe.
Many fans of Anderson suspect that the story was an important influence on Avatar, and some are calling for Anderson to be credited on the film. And it’s easy to see why.
Like Avatar, Call Me Joe centers on a paraplegic — Ed Anglesey — who telepathically connects with an artificially created life form in order to explore a harsh planet (in this case, Jupiter). Anglesey, like Avatar‘s Jake Sully, revels in the freedom and strength of his artificial created body, battles predators on the surface of Jupiter, and gradually goes native as he spends more time connected to his artificial body.
Maybe, old self, I’m just raging against coincidence. Maybe not. Update: Link to story has some great debates about this in the comments.
Even before the movie was over, I knew the haters were going to sound off about the overrated state of James Cameron’s Avatar, primarily due to the derivative nature of the plot. I thought Oh, so it’s like Dances With Wolves Meets The Matrix. That’s cool. And it is, really.
Update (4/9/2010): Since this is such a popular post, I highly recommend perusing my updated opinion on the nature of this story.
That is the main complaint right out of the gate, though, and even startup buzzkill complaints like what frakking font they used for subtitles can’t escape the comments section mob. They all huddle under the banner of Originality. They decry the sin of spending so much money on a project, and not letting some of it go to a creative story. I’m on the opposite pole. I think Cameron’s shrewdness is stellar, because “creative” can often spell doom to a film as ambitious as this. If I was investing 300 million on a world like Pandora, I would want to tell a story that’s tried and true. Tested and well-received.
Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai told similar stories, yes. But we eat that shit up, and therefore it’s not lazy of Cameron. It’s a business decision. Anyway, setting that nitpick of story aside, you have a serious success in the presentation of a movie. And, the next big step in visual effects, especially 3-D technology.
I can think of another movie that took one of those big steps, and its story was a blatant rip-off of every myth story imaginable regarding The Hero’s Journey. What was that film called, again?