Avatar’s Hidden Influences

Yes, I am still obsessed by Avatar. It also turns out that I am not the only one. If you feel anything like me, here are some tips. First of all, you can read James Cameron’s scriptment, originally called ‘Project 880’ and composed after he made Titanic. Here is a wonderfully well-written synopsis of it and how it generally differs from the one that made it into the final film. Another interesting thing that has emerged is the controvercy of the lack of any credits for Roger Dean for the similarity between his visionary artwork and the world that became Pandora. Like others when first seeing it, I thought, ‘it feels like I’ve somehow been here before, the flying lizards and floating mountains are somehow familiar. Whilst the umpteen special effects teams can be credited with bringing it all to life on the screen (in 3D, no less), many feel they more or less adapted designs from Rogers’ work of 30 years ago. Take a look at these below and tell me if you think. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery!

Familiar, eh? It wouldn’t be so bad if James had at least credited the influence, but he appears to be wanting to take the whole credit for himself. In a sense, it isn’t only the imaginary RDA corporation that wants to claim Pandora as it’s own with no sharing involved.  Personally, I believe that such places must exist, if only in our universal unconscious. Yet for providing the basic vision of that world, Roger should be credited, the situation as it is now having a certain dishonesty to it. To an extent the whole film is a homage to his vision, a way for us to venture there. A dream of an alien land, with flying dragons that can be ridden by the adventurous, and floating islands with trees. Even the ‘Tree of souls design, like a huge rib-cage, is similar to one of Deans. Now I don’t see this as a bad thing in itself, as it is wonderful to have the feeling of inhabiting such fantastic worlds. What bothers me is that not only are they failing to credit him, but are actually trying to deny the influence entirely, presumably for legalistic reasons. What kind of perfect future features anything less than complete honesty?

The human imagination itself is what allows us to fly into flights of fancy like this. Yet out great visionaries enable us to experience it for ourselves. So to rectify this injustice in the small way I am capable of doing, the esteemed Perfect Futures award will be shared between the two artists Roger Dean and James Cameron. If either or preferably both of them want to collect it, I’m free on Wednesday evenings.

Note- There is still time till Wednesday evening and I decided, especially after seeing the Epic again, that I was being a little harsh. I mean, it is very original. So instead of sharing, they will receive an individual award each, to treasure and put on the walls of their studio. James and Roger, I’ll be waiting for you both!

Flying reptiles, resting in tree-tops

The Hallelujah Islands ?


Capturing huge creatures on mountaintops ,with ropes to fly them.

A Dead dragon, in a primeval jungle.

The Rocks over the Tree of Souls? Dean’s ‘Bridges’.

‘Toruk’ Flying?

The ‘Torukesque’ Dragon again, above the mountains.

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