Avatar: James Cameron Accused of Plagiarism

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20raeewAvatar, James Cameron’s $200 million dollar sci-fi epic and the first feature film he’s directed since Titanic, has been surrounded by much hype, anticipation, and now controversy.  Sci-fi fans and film bloggers are calling into question Cameron’s ethics as discussions of plagiarism start to make the rounds on the web.

Speculation started in full force when a blog reader dubbed “Goldfarb” suggested to io9 that the plot of Avatar bears an uncanny resemblance to the 1957 novella Call Me Joe, written by Poul Anderson.  Both plots involve a paraplegic protagonist who mentally pulls the strings of an artificial life form, engineered for the purpose of exploring a planet with an environment hostile to humans.

People have noticed similarities not only in themes and subject matter, but many skeptics have also pointed to obvious parallels in the visual aspects of the creatures in the film and the one depicted on the cover art of the novella.

And speaking of déjà  vu, Cameron had to handle a situation a lot like this back when he made Terminator and Harlan Ellison accused him of borrowing heavily from episodes he wrote for the classic sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits.  In the end, Ellison sued and was awarded an undisclosed sum and acknowledgement in the film’s closing credits.  Now Anderson’s defenders want the same sort of concession for his contribution.

Although Avatar has mostly been promoted under a banner of complete originality, Cameron has cited a few call-me-joe“influences” such as: Dances with Wolves, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Rudyard Kipling.  Poul Anderson is absent from that list, but I suspect he won’t be for long.

As far as the controversy is concerned, it remains to be seen if Cameron will have to answer his accusers.  Will these questions even be heard or will they be drowned out by all the special effects-related buzz circulating on the internet?  All I’ve heard or read about this movie up to this point has been “CGI this” and “3-D that.”  Borrowed or not, I’m just relieved to hear this movie has a plot!

  1. Anonymous says

    Budget was 500 million dollars, not 200. And are you saying that “Avatar” actually had a plot? Oh, that’s right. It did have an evil plot— but Cameron actually stole it from secret Obama Administration “Leaked” state department documents. The White house has filed suit against Cameron claiming— “You can’t fool us sucka, that was our idea first, and we know what you are up to buddy…”

  2. Monte Nocito says

    hey fantastic movie I want to share with you where I watch this movie check w w w . topmovies24 . com

  3. […] in space, Dances with Smurfs in a hilarious South Park episode, a Yes album cover, a plagiarised 1957 novella etc. One more comparison that occurred to me as I was watching is Anders Rønnow Klarlund’s […]

  4. shoryuken says

    If you have watch the animation movies by Hayao Miyazaki, you will even surprise how many ideas what Cameroon has copied.

    GO check out Castle In the Sky, Princess mononoke, Nausecaa of Valley of the Wind.

  5. Leatha says

    When one dissects the movie into individual components, one will find elements that have been used over and over again. The magic of this film, however, lies in the whole: the merging of all the familiar components to come up with this wonderful magical unique whole.

  6. tracy says

    Hah, yeah you know, its like music. All the notes have already been played, just you have to play them differently. Everybody always wants something for nothing. Its influenced by lots of science fiction elements that everybody knows. Its meant to relate to us and be familiar even though it takes place on a different planet and surround a alien species most of the time. I loved this film, I hope he doesnt have to pay any of these guys a cent.

  7. Anonymous says

    No… it’s not from one source he did kind of an a la carte plagerism job.

    The main character and Avatar technology is from Call Me Joe.
    He took the ornothopters from the Command and Conquer games.
    He took the APUs from Matrix Revolutions.
    He took the romance from Fern Gully and Pocahontus.
    The theme message about live and let live could come from a dozen movies.
    He took the Gaia-hating military villian from Final Fantasy: Spirits Within
    He took the self-preserving tree deus ex mechanica from the Warcraft 3 game.
    He took the interaction between avatar and alien from Dances with Wolves.
    He took the interconnected alien biosphere from Evolution (which looked alot like one of the planets on Revenge of the Sith)
    …and come to think of it, watching Segorney Weaver being ignored by her interplanetary corporate bosses felt like pretty famliar ground too… :P

    Can you have a class action plagerism suit?

  8. irastev says

    Pah-lease. I’ve read the story… The similariies are greatly exaggerated. And wow, beasts with six legs are such a ground-breaking idea Cameron had to ‘steal’ it.

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