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An Early Look at "Avatar" and Its Influences

By December 11, 2009Newswires

“Avatar”: An Early Look at the James Cameron Epic and Its Influences

Speakeasy saw an early screening of James Cameron’s sci-fi epic “Avatar” on Thursday night. Don’t worry — we’re not going to reveal any spoilers. The movie, due out Dec. 18 in the U.S., tells the story of a disabled marine who travels to the distant world of Pandora, inhabits a manufactured alien body called an avatar, and bonds with the indigenous alien population, blue creatures called the Na’vi.

Author Joseph Campbell, in his 1949 non-fiction book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” argued that mythic stories tend to draw on a similar structure. Although the advance billing was that the 3-D images in “Avatar” were like nothing filmgoers had seen before, what’s particularly fascinating is how much of the movie — based on an original story by Cameron — has echoes of earlier sci-fi, fantasy, and dramatic epics from film, literature and comics. A brief guide:

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