27 June 2012 1:57 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Film – from King Kong to Avatar – has long been drawn to those threshold encounters where nothing is the same again

When James Cameron took a step on to technological terra incognito in 2009 with Avatar, he leaned on an old fascination for his storyline: indigenous peoples. That moment where hard eyes met uncomprehending ones, and see themselves reflected back, has still got it. It's in the nature of cameras to be pointed at the unknown, or at least point to where the unknown once was. No surprises then that cinema – from King Kong to Nanook of the North, classic westerns to mondo, Malick arthouse to Cameron powerhouse – has long been drawn to those threshold encounters where nothing is the same again.

The idea of a place's original inhabitants is a powerful one in uncertain times when countries and cultures look to fix a sense of their own identity, and the shifting »

- Phil Hoad

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