sábado, 27 de marzo de 2010

Avatar: Dumb Story?

A lot of ink has been spilled on the many alleged influences in Cameron's Avatar script, from classics such as Pocahontas, A Man Called Horse, etc.
For me, the first thing that came to mind was the Richard Corben comic "Dumb Story", first published in 1971. As one who enjoyed the movie tremendously, and with Avatar's much deserved merits notwithstanding, I nevertheless find fitting to point the more than casual similarities between both stories.
One reaches the more than likely conclusion that J. Cameron must have been exposed to this story at some point while developing the idea for Avatar, and even entertain the thought that Dumb Story might very well have been the spark that ignited in Cameron's head what would eventually grow into the cinematic wonder that the worldwide audiences knows as Avatar.
Consider if you will, the following comparison:

DumbStory: Human expedition lands on Centauro III
Avatar: Humans have established a mining exploitation on Pandora, in the system Alpha Centauri

DumbStory: The natives - green, graceful and naked - receive the earthlings with some reservations but, in their innocence, they allow them to settle.
Avatar: The natives  - blue, graceful and semi-naked - received the earthlings with some reservations but, in their innocence, they allowed them to settle.

DumbStory: The price of civilization arrives in the shape of earth diseases, pollution, and mandatory clothing.
Avatar: The earth corporation carries on their own business (extracting unobtanium) while some good earthlings - la Weaver and her posse - intend to study, educate and civilize the natives (and to whatever extent possible get them to wear shorts, at the very least...)

DumbStory: A couple of natives reject the new status-quo, getting rid of their clothes and returning to the wilderness. But their idyllic existence is interrupted by the roar...
Avatar: Human soldier goes native and falls for an indigenous girl. But their idyllic existence is interrupted by the roar...

... of the machines!!!

Dumb Story: Chief Gu Nu informs us that the natives rised up against the humans, but the rebellion was squashed and the survivors fled. The planet is doomed...
Avatar: The corporation destroys the Navi's home tree, in what is surely the most stunning scene in the movie. The survivors flee, Pandora appears to be doomed...

Dumb Story: The native couple goes on the counterattack...
Avatar: The Navi tribes go on the counterattack......

This being Corben's vision vs. Hollywood's, the similarities go only that far. No prizes for guessing that in Avatar the natives, lead by el Worthington, finally overcome the evil earth corporation. Corben's version, on the other hand, makes no sugarcoated compromises, and its outcome is closer to what we would expect in real life (look no further than the history of pre-columbian civilizations and north american indigenous peoples, who were wiped out by successive waves of european settlers)

It goes without saying, I'm not implying here that Cameron is stealing or plagiarizing. Cameron is a visionary in his own right, and has delivered with Avatar this generation's equivalent to Star Wars.
He borrows from the best to create something entirely new and compelling. Cameron, like many pioneers and virtuosos before him, is Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants.
I dare say that one of these giants is none other than Richard Corben (who as it happens, himself towers at around 6,6 feet tall).

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