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What’s in an Avatar?



By Jeevan L Xavier, Founder & CEO, JLX Studio

Few movies have fascinated me more than James Cameroon’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar. And it’s not just the storyline. The sheer creative extravaganza, scale, and complexity of Avatar are what have stayed with me, over a decade later. Avatar is set in the future -- 2154 -- in which humans are engaged in mining a fictional planet Pandora's, reserves of a precious mineral that earth wants. The movie pits humans against the Na'vi, Pandora’s residents who try to resist the colonists' expansion.

While all religious belief systems credit God or a higher power as the creator of the universe, Avatar was a lab experiment, so to speak, led by humans (who are incidentally aliens in the movie) to ideate and create a whole new planet and eco-system in an existing universe.


The Avatar team actually played God in different roles. Cameroon (who remember wrote, co-edited, and produced Titanic) was the deity-in-chief. From creating a creature to inventing a language and eco-system, the creative brains of the Avatar team exceeded themselves.


Cameroon brought together experts from various backgrounds to create that entire universe, including botanists who conceived and created exotic plant life. They had to all think out of the box. The new creature was created using automotive lines (think aerodynamic), and then there was the music (computer-generated) and facial molds. The making of Avatar required the seamless coming together of various disciplines and creativity – a language for the Na’vi (spearheaded by a linguistics professor) and even futuristic weapons (conceptualized from form to materials) to create a whole new world. The result was a spectacular movie whose gross earnings crossed USD 2.8 billion when it was shown in China in early 2020.[i]


More than anything, this project left me in absolute wonderment. The vision, and making that a reality with precision, and the sophisticated systems that help deliver and track the process.


A year from now, Cameroon will launch Avatar 2, the first of four sequels that will hit the box office every alternative year. The first is scheduled for mid-December 2022. I am sure we are in for a treat. For now, we have to be content with the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxLH0lXEGAY


[i] https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/how-avatar-reclaimed-its-global-box-office-crown-4152277/


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