Avatar (2009) Poster


Frequently Asked Questions

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  • In the year 2149, paraplegic ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is offered the chance to travel to Pandora, a distant Class-M world inhabited by a 10-foot-tall cat-like humanoid race, the Na'vi, in order to help exploit the planet's resources. Arriving nearly six years later, in 2154, he remotely "drives" a genetic hybrid of a Na'vi and his late identical twin brother Tom in order to learn about and influence them. He falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the eldest daughter of the local tribal leaders, finding their culture and relationship to the planet to be compelling. Now he must choose sides, either remaining loyal to his fellow humans (consisting of the mining corporation, scientists, and the Marines sent to protect them) or to helping protect the Na'vi and their planet.

  • Avatar was filmed from an original screenplay penned by writer/director/producer James Cameron. However, the screenplay does contain elements and concepts from several science fiction works, including The Jesus Incident (1979) by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom, Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card, and Winds of Altair by Ben Bova, to name a few. Avatar 2 (2020), Avatar 3 (2021), and Avatar 4 (2024) are in the works with release dates planned for 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively.

  • "Avatar" is a Sanskrit word meaning incarnation or embodiment. Both this film and the Avatar series are named after this concept. In modern internet usage, the term refers to a small image that appears near a message author's name/handle (ID, nick, gamertag or such). Like the handle, the image appears beside all messages (posts, articles, columns, tweets etc.) the person submits to a system, acting as a representation of the person, much as the hybrid alien bodies are representations of the humans using them.

  • No. This is a completely original movie conceived about a decade before Avatar: The Last Airbender (2003) (2005-2008) aired on the Nickelodeon channel. Because Cameron's concept and screenplay was already registered and copyrighted, he still reserves the right to use the word "avatar" as the title of his movie. A film based on the TV series was released in 2010 as The Last Airbender (2010), but the word "Avatar" was dropped from the title to avoid confusion with this film.

  • This is never explained in the film and is considered to be a MacGuffin, a film term for an item that is unimportant except for its part in progressing the plot. "Unobtainium" is a humorous term used mainly in the aerospace industry to describe the perfect material for an application except for the fact that it does not exist, that it is extremely expensive to make or obtain (hence the name "un-obtain-ium"), or that it is required to violate the laws of physics as the person or persons making the remarks understand them. Corporation administer Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) states that it's worth "$20 million per kilo", so its value can be related to items such as gold, silver, gems, and large diamonds. Another possibility stems from two scenes in which a sample of the mineral is seen floating in mid-air over a relatively small and weak magnet, about the size of the average pincushion. Superconducting materials are sometimes shown hovering in a magnetic field in demonstrations, but current superconductors only exhibit such behavior when cryogenically cooled. Modern science is attempting to create materials that are superconducting at more useful temperatures. One could guess, then, that the mineral is a naturally-occurring "room temperature superconductor", which would be very valuable indeed. A line by Jake that was cut from the theatrical version and put back in the Extended Edition reveals that Unobtainium is indeed a superconductor (Jake's line also confirms that Pandora's floating mountains are made of the mineral).

  • The film does not explain it but viewers have offered several possibilities, including: (1) as most, if not all, of the military and science crew weren't handicapped (aside from Jake), they wouldn't see a point in spending the money on a more advanced wheelchair, (2) being a former marine, Jake purposefully chose a manually powered wheelchair so he'd still be able to get as much exercise as possible given his condition, (3) Jake cannot afford something more advanced, (4) because the ability to cure paralysis ("get new legs" as said in the movie) exists, people have never bothered advancing wheelchair technology (or it was phased out over the years), and (5) as storage space and weight are a concern, a collapsible and portable wheelchair is preferable to a heavier, larger chair. As an example, consider the size of the storage locker assigned to Jake and his only having one small sea bag (dufflebag to non-jarheads) of personal gear. James Cameron also states in his early draft scriptlet that it costs "a million dollars a pound to get something from Pandora back to Earth." The four-minute Earth intro that was reinserted into the Extended Edition has Jake reveal that his VA benefits amount to very little money which implies that he is unable to afford a more advanced wheelchair (in fact he is using the same wheelchair on Earth thus confirming that it is his property).

  • Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) states that he received the scars on his first day on Pandora. While the movie doesn't state how it happened, we can assume that the wildlife, likely a viperwolf or thanator (the large cat-like creature that Jake escapes), gave it to him.

  • We see several floating mountains in the movie having majestic waterfalls, starting from close to the top of the mountain. Yet there is no snowcap and no place for enough precipitation to collect in order to fuel waterfalls of that size. Three explanations have been offered that might explain that conundrum.

    (1) When it rains on Pandora, the water is stored in the rock of the mountains as groundwater (the same as water is trapped in the porous rocks on Earth). This would not require constant precipitation as the "floating mountains" themselves act as aquifers (rock-made reservoirs) if it can be assumed that the upper layers of rock are permeable i.e. water can percolate into them, but the lower levels of the mountains are impermeable, thus the water is trapped inside the rocks themselves and do not simply fall out of the bottom. Heavier rocks lying above the lighter rocks could also help to pressurize the water and push it upwards toward the top of the mountain rather than pouring out half-way down (much the same way as oil is pressurized underground and forced upwards).

    (2) The rocks quickly condense water from the surrounding fog on their surface and guide it through creeks to the waterfalls on their sides. The mountains are shown surrounded by a significant amount of fog.

    (3) The flux vortex (the unusual magnetic conditions that allow the rocks to float) allows water to behave in unusual ways, e.g., after falling from the waterfalls, the water evaporates or is magnetically drawn back up to the underside of the rock, whereby it moves upwards via capillary action only to cycle back out at the top again.

  • Avatars were controlled either by telepresence or by mind upload from the scientists into the avatar body, then mind download back to preserve memories. Both cases require a high-speed data connection between the operator and the Avatar. This connection would also go through the field that prevented humans from tracking the Na'vi, because Jake wakes up many times in the middle of the Na'vi forest. Given that the humans had this brain-avatar data connection all the time, it stands to reason that they could use it to communicate among themselves as avatars. In the movie, however, Jake and other scientists are still using the radios that are hanging around their necks. One possibility is that they needed radios to communicate with non-Avatars: aircraft pilots, the Na'vi, or other humans. Hence, Avatars just used radios to communicate among themselves out of convenience. It is also possible that the type of link they use for controlling the Avatars is not practical for other types of communication. One such possibility would be that of a direct, neuron level connection between the avatar and the controller. This type of connection (based on quantum entanglements, which could explain why it is not affected by distance or interference from the field) would not be "translated" by a machine so it couldn't be used to transmit anything other than body control "commands" in both directions. Another theory is that, as stated in the film, the Avatars, and the devices used to interface with them, cost millions of dollars each. In practical military application, it is likely that there will be a need to replace devices used in the field. Hence, radios are a far more cost-effective solution.

  • One of the attendants tells the passengers that they have been in cryo for nearly six years, and yet neither Jake nor any of the visible passengers have any sort of overly bushy hair. Despite this, three months spent among the Na'vi people gives Jake slightly scruffy hair and a considerable beard. This difference in growth could be due to the cryogenic hibernation affecting normal hair production. Another possible explanation is that hibernation puts the individual into a state of suspended animation, stopping or dramatically slowing the body's processes including hair growth, which is common with films that have cryogenic sleep, i.e. Cameron's other film that included the concept, Aliens.

  • His troops almost entirely wiped out, Quaritch dons a cybernetically-controlled mech suit (AMP) and pursues Jake's avatar, while Jake's human body lies asleep in the avatar link cylinder nearby. After a brief battle with Neytiri, who rides a giant thanator, Quaritch breaks open the cylinder, exposing Jake's body to Pandora's atmosphere. Just as Quaritch is about to kill Jake's avatar, Neytiri shoots two arrows through Quaritch's chest, killing him. She then makes her way into the chamber where Jake has crawled out of his cylinder in an attempt to reach his rebreather mask. Neytiri enters the pod and puts the rebreather on Jake's face, saving both the human Jake and his avatar. Some time later, after the humans have been sent back to their dying planet and Jake has made his final log entry, he attends his "birthday" party amongst the Na'vi, where he is given the greatest gift of all: Eywa transfers him from his crippled human body into his avatar, allowing him to live out the rest of his life as a Na'vi.

  • "I See You (Theme from Avatar)" (also shortened as "I See You") is a pop ballad performed by British singer Leona Lewis. It was written and produced by composer James Horner, Simon Franglen and Kuk Harrell for the soundtrack album to the high-grossing film by James Cameron, Avatar. Horner and Franglen composed the music, and Horner, Franglen, and Harrell wrote the lyrics.

  • The tracks featured in the trailer are "Fire-bombing London", "Crowd breaks out" and "Helicopter Mayhem" from the 28 Weeks Later: Original Motion Picture Score by John Murphy. For the second trailer (released October 30th 2009) the music is—in order—My Name Is Lincoln by Steve Jablonsky [found on the soundtrack to The Island (2005)], followed by "Akkadian Empire" and "Guardians At The Gate" by the "go to" trailer music people, Audiomachine.

  • Yes. Some new scenes, according to sources, are: (1) The opening Earth scene with Jake in the bar and his apartment, (2) Grace's school, which features Grace teaching the Na'vi youth and showing them holograms of the Earth, (3) an extended sex scene between the leading couple, (4) Tsu'tey death scene (his tail cut off and then is killed by Quaritch), (5) Selfridge's confrontation with Quaritch, saying something like having sympathies for the Navis and telling him to stop, and (6) Sturmbeast hunt.

  • Technically, there are three official versions available of Avatar. First of all there's the well-known record-breaking theatrical version that runs approximately 155 minutes and is available on Blu-ray/DVD. During its theatrical run Cameron announced that he'd planned to release extended versions of his movie, as well.

    The first extended cut is the so-called Special Edition of the movie that had a theatrical release a couple months after the original run. There are one or two extended scenes which deepen existing portions of the plot on an emotional level and some completely new scenes. Those, however, only deepen the parts already known, but do not offer the viewer new possibilities of consideration or interpretation of the actual story. Among the highlights of the new scenes is the visit to a deserted Na'vi school by Grace, Norm and Jake. The other scenes are often simply contextual extensions. They include, among other things, scenes of Jake and Neytiri fusing their tendril features during their extra-terrestrial intercourse, the Na'vi and Jake hunting and burning the humans' excavating machines and Dr. Augustine's scientific explanation for the floating mountains. This new Special Edition runs approximately 8 minutes longer than the original theatrical version.

    Furthermore there's the Extended Edition. The Extended Edition can be seen as a kind of bonus version. It is based upon the Special Edition and is nearly completely identical to it—except for the opening of the film. Initially, "Avatar" was to start on Earth. In the end, Cameron removed these scenes, because they would delay the plot. Only small parts of it were shown during Jake Sully's opening monologue. Cameron clearly prefers the classical start of the film aboard the spacecraft. However, the fans' disappointment with the missing scenes on Earth was so profound that Cameron decided to insert them in this extended edition. Thus, it must rather be viewed as some kind of bonus for fans. This Extended Edition runs approximately 7 minutes longer than the Special Edition and 15 minutes longer than the theatrical version and can be found in the Extended Collector's Edition.


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