James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) defined a new era of innovative technology in the realm of film making. The 3-D animation and special effects used to create the environment of Pandora not only bring the universe to life on screen, but also the technology helps to compare Pandora to our world today.
Cameron, who began writing the screenplay for the film in 1994 with a planned release date in 1999, decided that the necessary and best technology for the film hadn’t quite been made available yet. Finally, in 2006, Cameron used motion-capture techniques, which included body suits for the actors that allowed for them to become the “avatars” and 3-D imaging which interacted with the reality. The cutting-edge usage of technology set Cameron and his film apart from previous films because the use of animation and technology created a reality for his film which was different, yet similar to our reality.
Pandora, which is the fictional universe of Cameron’s film, is the home to the Na’vi. These native creatures, played by real actors wearing body suits, were created to look like tall, blue creatures with human qualities. The plants, creatures, and natural surroundings in Pandora are unique to the planet. The shapes and contortions of the plants remind the viewer of plants here on earth. Also, some of the creatures on Pandora may look odd, but they definitely look and act like some of the animals we have.
It is interesting that Cameron uses Pandora as an analogy to our world today. Although the environment looks completely different than ours, Cameron’s use of imaging and animation bring to life the world of Pandora, making the viewer fall in love with the images. The viewer gets transported into the 3-D world and begins to relate the world of Pandora with reality. The Na’vi’s humanistic features make them emotionally likeable characters, which the viewer quickly becomes attached to. The plants, animals, and environment of Pandora, because the Na’vi are so connected with them, also become an emotional attachment to the viewer. The beautiful imagery of the floating islands and the home tree of the natives give the viewer an attachment to the beauty of Pandora, and also a beauty towards the film in general. This epic film will forever be remembered for its stunning imagery and connection of fiction to reality that Cameron instills in his viewers.