In anticipation of the slightly extended re-release of “Avatar,” or as James Cameron calls it, the “last hurrah in theaters” for families at the end of the summer, the filmmaker talked with Entertainment Weekly about that nine minutes of footage added in for the blockbuster’s return to cinemas, as well as hint of an even longer cut that will exclusively be available on some future DVD edition. But the most interesting bit of the interview [thanks to The Playlist for highlighting it] has to do with the film’s sequels, the plots of which Cameron says have been altered a bit from his original plans due to a response to “Avatar” by an indigenous tribe in South America. Here’s the story that made him rethink things in his words:
I was doing a fund-raiser for these people called the Achuar. [The Achuar are an Amazonian community who want to keep oil companies from drilling near their homelands.] This fund-raiser was trying to get public attention. A bunch of Achuar were bused in to watch Avatar at an IMAX theater in 3D. These are people who had never been in a movie theater. They’re wearing feathers and paint. And they put on the glasses and watch Avatar, the first movie they’ve ever seen. And when they came out, the BBC interviewed them. This one woman, a tribal elder, says, “In this movie, they solved their problems by fighting. We are not afraid to fight, but we have decided to try to solve our problems through dialogue. So this movie needs a better message.”
I could make a joke here about how Cameron ought to similarly show “The Terminator” and “T2: Judgment Day” to robots, but one, that doesn’t sound as funny or make as much sense as it did a moment ago in my head, and two, I actually think it’s an important anecdote. Of course, I find it somewhat terrible that the Achuar were seemingly exploited for the following cheap media stunt:
But I will use the opportunity to note that the Achuar tribe and their conflict with energy companies can be seen in James Jandak Wood’s documentary “Crude Impact.” And I think they might also be represented in the trial against Chevron that’s documented in Joe Berlinger’s more recent film “Crude.” I’m not sure if they’re one of the five indigenous tribes or not. They’re at least a relatively nearby group to those seen in the doc, which has been in the news lately because of a side case regarding the subpoena of Berlinger’s footage.
Maybe “Avatar 2” can be influenced by and somewhat based on the long- and on-going trial. I see a 3D courtroom drama dealing with an “oil” spill in the oceans of Pandora. I can’t wait to see the book being thrown at the evil “oil” company executives seeming like it’s flying directly into the audience. Also, that “oil” is going to be called “unobtoleum.” But seriously, guys, get prepared for those sequels by checking out those documentaries. I do believe the following is relative, too: